Hypothetical scenario: Dude you’re on a first date with picks you up at your door; you walk over to a nearby restaurant and sit down at the table, and then you see his watch. It’s a metallic number, chunky and thick, with visible gears and ostentatious detailing on its face. Now, hold on: Let’s imagine this guy–he’s six feet tall, dressed well enough (button-down, well-fit denim, inoffensive shoes) and has obviously made a good enough impression to win a date with you. But he seems to be quite fond of his timepiece, stretching on occasion to make sure his watch is visible beyond his cuff and holding his hands together in a manner that puts his wrist on display.
“Was that your dad’s watch or something?” you inquire.
“No,” he guffaws, “I bought this. It’s a Hublot.”
“What’s that?” you ask.
“Oh, it’s a luxury brand. Haven’t you heard that Watch the Throne song, “Otis”?”
“No,” you confess.
What he doesn’t know is that you detest showy displays of income, wholesale buy-ins to maleness and co-opting pop star fashion for your own.
That wouldn’t happen with an Analog Watch Co. watch for a number of reasons. While watches made of wood aren’t completely unheard of (you can find them at Kembrel, on sale, while the Chestnut Street pop-up’s still open), Lorenzo Buffa is a Philadelphia designer and founder of AWC who’s launched and already crushed a Kickstarter goal to fund the production of soft, flexible wooden watches that are gender neutral and make a statement that’s not “I have money and taste.” In fact, a wooden watch might suggest the wearer’s a little more on the crunchy, urban hippie, eco-conscious and nature-loving tip.
On Oct. 11, Buffa launched a $10k-goaled Kickstarter push, and, at the time of this writing (10/21 @ noon), he and AWC have 333 backers with over $31,000 pledged and 20 days left in the campaign. Not bad at all. And, to his credit, Buffa’s a queer kid who’s propelled himself him into now-thriving watch designer status and a Kickstarter success story.
“If it wasn’t for navigating the challenges of being a marginalized individual, I don’t think I would be who or where I am today,” he told PW. “Those hard times only give me strength and compulsion to push myself more.” And push himself he did. For months he designed, prototyped, contacted and initiated relationships with manufacturers, studied other campaigns and prepared a marketing effort for his brand. “We spent months working on a strategy for launching on Kickstarter,” he says. “I gauged how well the project would fit in, and fortunately, it’s exceeded expectations.”
Looks like Buffa’s poised to be swimming in wristwear—taking orders, plus creating, marketing and shipping them—and he’s not mad. The U Arts Industrial Design alum’s background is pretty varied, but he sees a lot of potential in watches, much more so than just a way to tell time. “Watches today are much more about expressing one’s identity. They are symbols of status, ideals, class, etc.,” Buffa asserts. When questioned on whether or not he was ready to be the watch man, he seemed resolved: “I’m going to settle in and work on watches for now. This is just the beginning.”
The Carpenter Collection uses soft wood, leather and minimalistic design elements (no numbers, lines or figures – it’s Analog, get it?) to achieve a pretty sophisticated blend of aesthetic elements for 2013. Because he wanted to appeal to a wide audience—and, in all likelihood because he’s a talented queer—these watches are slim, chicly simplified and refined in their design. And there’s still time to get in on the Kickstarter project. There are only 10 left of the 200 spots to opt in at $85, but 97 of 100 spots are left to get yours for $95.
Kickstarter’s obviously no joke. There’s lots of build-up towards a campaign and lots of worry over how it’ll unfold if and when your campaign’s funded; Buffa gets the green light on Nov. 10th. Is he ready for the deluge? “Absolutely,” he says. “This has been over a year in the making. Months have been spent building relationships with all the parties involved [and] in bringing a product to production.” There’s magic in that Kickstarter, too, helping all kinds of creatives achieve things never believed possible.
Buffa put it perfectly: “There is an amazing tool at our disposal: the Internet and computer. You can do anything. Anything. It’s created a new era for makers, designers, and how small businesses grow in ways it never could have 20 years ago.”
Gentleman Arthur Ties, $50-$75 each / Kembrel (1822 Chestnut St.)
Farmhaus “Gurt Blöc in Sapele Cutting/Serving Board,” $65 / Art Star (623 N. Second St.)
Philadelphia Phillies Pennant Race Windbreaker, $54 / Mitchell & Ness (1201 Chestnut St.)
Hortense B. Hewitt Glass Tankard with Personalization (Set of 2), $59.95 / Scarlett Alley (241 Race St.)
Trifold Luxe, $58 / Fabric Horse (1737 E. Passyunk Ave.)
Tokens & Icons Antique Golf Club Bottle Opener, $75 / Boyd’s Philadelphia (1818 Chestnut St.)
Sperry 2 Eye Neon Red Top Sider Shoes, $100 / South Moon Under (1731 Chestnut St.)
Jack Spade Duffle Bag, $295 / Art in the Age (116 N. Third St.)
Mainline Package (choice of tie, polo and tee), $123.75 / Duke & Winston (633 N. Second St.)
Arcadia Boutique – Now through Monday, take 20 percent off any article of clothing featuring stars and stripes, including that of fave designers Alternative Apparel, DV by Dolce Vita and BB Dakota both in stores and online (promo code: STARS). Meanwhile, starting this weekend and continuing every weekend for the rest of the summer, the shop will be taking 50 percent off select vintage clothes and shoes. (819 N. Second St.)
Jay McCarroll – Free shipping on all orders of $50 dollars or more (promo code: FREESHIP50). The Project Runway star is also marking down his colorful women’s Cambridge cardigans, originally $50 dollars, now just $35 dollars. Ends: Tue/28, 2pm.
Nicole Miller – Receive an extra 20 percent off all sale items now through Monday either shopping online (promo code: spring20) or in the designer’s Center City location at The Bellevue. (200 S. Broad St.)
Three Sirens Boutique – With the exception of items by local designers/artists, this weekend, the Old City boutique is kicking off the summer season by taking up to 20 percent off their entire inventory of summer clothing and jewelry. The sale ends at 5 p.m. on Monday. (134 N. Third St.)
Concrete Polish – You have till midnight on Monday to save 20 percent on your entire order when you shop the local jewelry line’s online store (check out code: BBQ). Should you want to see designer Angela Monaco’s jewels up close first, you can do so Monday night at Silk City during their Mad Decent Mondays dance party (10pm-2am).
South Moon Under – This weekend only, take an additional 25 percent off all the store’s already marked down selection of spring/summer items. (1731 Chestnut St.)
Joan Shepp – Peruse the local retailer’s huge selection of Y-3 apparel and accessories for men and women as it will all be 25 percent off now through Monday. You can either shop online (promo code: MEM25) or stop by their Center City location for the full Shepp experience. (1616 Walnut St.)
Kembrel – Save 40 percent off full-priced items and/or 20 percent off already reduced items this weekend when you shop online (checkout code: MEMORIALWEEKEND).
Eiffel Tower Tea Set, $50 / Omoi Zakka Shop (1608 Pine St.)
Rebecca Minkoff ‘Craig’ Camera Bag, $195 / South Moon Under (1731 Chestnut St.)
Hidden Secrets Book Box, $24 / Ten Thousand Villages (1122 Walnut St.)
Kembrel Jewelry, Allie Necklace (Pink/White), $24 / Kembrel (1822 Chestnut St.)
Farmhaus “Firewood” Candle Holder, $32 / Art Star (623 N. Second St.)
Floral Blazer by Rehab, $68 / Aoki Boutique (115 S. 22nd St.)
Imported Italian and Scottish Soaps, $12-$24 / Stadler-Kahn (1724 Sansom St.)
Trois Petits Lockets, $89.95 / Scarlett Alley (241 Race St.)
Hand Embroidered ‘Relax’ Pillow, $90 / Mushmina (1540 South St.)
Large Gift Set, $65 / Duross & Langel (117 S. 13th St.)
One last local gift roundup for all you very last minute shoppers out there…
Betsey Johnson Tights (Various Styles), $20 / Aoki Boutique, 115 S. 22nd St.
Voluspa Scented Candle, $40 / Town Home Jewelry & Boutique, 1616 Walnut St.
Philadelphia Woodworks Gift Certificate (Any Amount) / Philadelphia Woodworks, 4901 Umbria St.