If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or the handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, Chris Black is here to answer it in a regular column.
My wife is pregnant with our first child. I react negatively to the term “push present,” but I’d like to get her something classic and timeless to commemorate the occasion. What gifts will stand the test of time, both in terms of quality and aesthetics?
This might be the wildest question to arrive in the Ask Chris Black mailbag yet. Congrats! Let’s be honest, big dog: If you were dropping $10K at Cartier, you wouldn’t be asking me for help. I can’t link to a night nurse or a Tesla, but I have done what I can.
What about a portable high-quality digital camera to capture your babe’s milestone moments in all of their glory? The touchscreen Ricoh GR III is durable, compact enough to fit basically anywhere, and can capture HD video. Using this, your precious memories will look far better than they would if taken on a smudged iPhone.
An engraved signet ring would be timeless. Tiffany makes a simple sterling-silver version that could be passed down to your firstborn when he or she is old enough to stunt! And if you feel the need to put a little aftermarket diamond in it, you can.
Your wife needs to flex on these other new moms. The best way to do that is with a Gucci monogrammed diaper bag. Logo-mania doesn’t stop because a child has entered the picture. If you don’t like the black, Zappos has a beige version with the same print for about $150 more. You can use it to carry toys and whatnot as the kid grows, and should you ever not want it, you could probably resell it for a decent sum, as long as you keep it in good condition.
What are your thoughts on camp-collar/Hawaiian shirts? I own one that I bought at Jazz Fest, but am interested in getting more. Are there any you recommend?
This is a … look. A vintage Reyn Spooner, while actually in Hawaii, is very cool. Jeff Goldblum begging for attention in a Prada version with bananas all over it … not cool! Let’s check out some nice and wearable options.
If you must have something loud, Ralph Lauren has you covered. Seersucker in a hibiscus floral print is a statement that I can stand behind.
Eidos’s simple, white Oxford-cloth version is perfect for summer, even if you have to spend most of it indoors.
Lemaire has an appealing checkered style made from lightweight viscose fabric that also fits the bill. The collar is slightly freaky, in a good way! Impress your friends by being a risk-taker.
I’ve gotten into incense and burning other sorts of greenery, and I wanted to ask if you have any recommendations for a nice incense holder or ashtray? I want a cool one to leave out when it isn’t being used, but only can seem to find gaudy options secondhand.
Incense is criminally underrated! I use it often as an alternative to expensive candles. I use an amazing concrete incense bowl that my friend Benjamin Edgar made a few years ago, but it sadly isn’t available to buy anymore. That said, the incense-holder landscape is pretty lush, so let’s explore.
This incense bowl from New York City–based Mellow Ceramics is so chic: a hand-painted checkerboard pattern on the outside, and the a perfect slot for incense on the inside. When you are not burning, you can use it to hold dry flowers or potpourri. If you think you need something larger, End Clothing has different sizes (and styles) of Mellow’s incense bowls here.
Real heads know that Japanese brand Kuumba makes the best incense. Its insane collection includes wildly named scents (Stuck on The Blunt, Bootycall, Kush) for pretty much every occasion and mood. It also makes these attractive can incense burners. Put one in a corner and light it up!
This simple ceramic cube from Saikai, another Japanese maker, is minimal, inoffensive, and well-priced. Set it on a small plate or inside an ashtray for less cleanup.
This incense holder from Canadian brand Eden Power Corp is traditional in shape, but crafted from industrial aluminum with a diamond-plate pattern. Fun and practical! Plus, the company promises to “plant 20 trees for each item purchased on our website.”
[Editor’s note: Eden Power Corp lists prices in Canadian dollars, so the price shown is an approximate conversion in U.S. dollars.]
Maybe you want something that makes a statement, a rare and truly unique vessel that will also hold your incense stick. Jakob Hetzer, a Los Angeles–based designer, has made just the product: the 322118SMOKERING. It’s hand-carved entirely from African rosewood, and even comes with its own (African rosewood) case.
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