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June 27, 2006

Meet Jared

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How do we describe Jared? Tall would be one word - he stands in at just a little over 6’2”. Driven is another word. Even though he has only started modeling recently he is progressing fast. With an agency in Chicago looking at him and another agency in New York wanting to see him as well, he is fast on his way to making a career out of modeling. Although I’m sure he’s not ready to give up his quest to become a lawyer.

When we asked Jared to come in for a test shoot we had no idea how good he would look in the clothing. He turned out to be everything we were hoping to find in a model. Every piece of clothing we put on him was a terrific fit. You can see more of Jared in our “Summer’s Top Ten Must Haves”.

As a form of introduction to all of our customers we asked Jared a few questions so everyone could get to know him a bit.

1 - Where are you from originally? Fairfax, Virginia

2 - What do you do when not modeling? Snowboard, wakeboard, lift and go to school

3 - How old are you? 21

4 - What’s your work out routine like? Gym in the a.m. for cardio and abs, back again in the afternoon for weights and more cardio - 7 days a week

5 - What’s your favorite body part to work out? Chest

6 - What body part gives you the most trouble? Chest

7 - What’s your favorite body part? Biceps

8 - What’s your least favorite body part? Back

9 - 5 years from now where do you see yourself? Practicing law

10 - What’s your favorite vacation spot? Vail Colorado

11 - What’s your favorite piece of clothing on universalgear.com? Drifter Decore Shirt

12 - What brand would we find most in your closet? Lacoste

13 - Boxers or Briefs? Boxers

14 - What do you like to do for fun? Snowboard, wakeboard, hangout with friends

15 - What’s your favorite place to just hang out and relax? At the lake house

16 - Funniest thing that has happened to you? I was at a bar one night and saw a girl that I had a class with freshman year. We were talking all night, and I could tell she was into me but I wasn’t interested. At the end of the night I was leaving the bathroom headed for the front door and she stopped me to give me her number. Thinking to myself ‘I’m never going to call’ I pretended to put her number in my phone to be nice and just punched in 111-111-1111, with every intention of deleting it later. After I put the fake number in...she reached over and took my phone saying ‘here, let me store it!’ She saw the fake number and the look on her face almost turned me to stone. Without saying a single word I took my phone back and walked out of the bar.

17 - Most embarrassing thing that has happened to you? See #16

18 - If you moved where would you go? Alaska

19 - What are you passionate about? Being outdoors and getting into law school

--Jim

The Summer's Top 10 Must Haves

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and rounding out the summer's top ten

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--Jim

June 20, 2006

Creating the Universal Swim Brand

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We sometimes get asked whether the Universal Swim board shorts we carry are related in any way to Universal Gear. Here's a quick snippet about how that brand came about:

Since my family is from Brazil, I usually visit Rio once or twice a year to spend some time with the folks (and to catch some rays at Ipanema beach, of course). Given the beach culture, Rio has tons of fantastic swimwear brands--including Blueman (read more about them here). The brand features bikinis, squarecuts and board shorts with great colors and designs. Given the popularity of the suits I brought back for friends, David (Universal Gear's President) and I decided to take a trip down to explore importing them to the US to be sold at Universal Gear stores.

The meetings with Blueman were fantastic and by the last day of the trip, we had ordered hundreds of suits for our Spring 2003 collection. During that same trip, David and I took some time to hit street fairs that featured clothing and accessories from local designers. Most of booths we visited couldn't supply us with the quantities we needed, or just didn't have the breadth of merchandise to really make an impact. But just as we were leaving, we stumbled upon a booth featuring board shorts in bright colors with contrast stitching.

The company, as it turns out, specialized in wholesale manufacturing and liked the idea of partnering with us to create our own private label of board shorts. We spent much of the next day looking at fabric swatches and samples of the detailing touches we could use to set the brand apart (branded laces, tags, etc.). After months of tweaking and editing, we had a collection ready to launch.

Naming the collection was easy. We wanted to tie it to our corporate brand, but we didn't necessarily want to brand it as Universal Gear--partly because we also wanted to sell it to other stores. You might, in fact, have seen our board shorts in other great stores like All American Boy (Fire Island), Body Body (Provincetown), Bravo (Provincetown), Symbology (Ft. Lauderdale and Provincetown), Palm Produce (Miami) and Motley (Ogunquit).

Universal Swim is now our #1 brand of swimwear. With the popularity of board shorts increasing, the brand was able to fill a need for body conscious styles with clean lines and handsome color combinations. If you haven't already, check out pictures of our Spring photoshoot featuring these board shorts here.

In addition to the board shorts, we're also putting the finishing touches to our collection of cashmere blend sweaters (coming in October 06) and athletic-inspired crew and muscle shirts (coming in July 06).

-- Ricardo

June 15, 2006

Denim Fit Guide

We're all built differently but we all share one common goal: to find the perfect pair of jeans to fit our body type. To help you find the jeans for you, check out our new denim fit guide:

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-If you want to add some curves to your body look for stretch denim and slim fits.
-Avoid rigid, loose fit or wide legs jeans.
-Check out denim with a flap or zippered back pockets. Those details tend to add bulk and curvature where you need it most.

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-You can try a flare or a bootcut. Those jeans tend to balance out the curves of your hips and thighs with a slight flare at the bottom of the jeans. But avoid ultra-slim bootcuts like the Diesel Zathan (you won't be able to get those over your thighs). The True Religion Joey or the Diesel Zaf have more room in the thigh and will better accentuate your body.
- Those looking to play down their curves should try a mid to low rise straight leg. The silhouette of the straight leg will deemphasize your thighs and even out the curves on the lower half of your body. Try the G-Star Low Loose or the Diesel Levan.

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-To elongate the leg and body go for a pair of low rise jeans with a longer leg to wear with boots.
-Look for jeans with different inseam lengths. Most jeans without inseams have a 33” or 34” length.
-Avoid wide leg, flares, or anything that will widen your shape.

TIP -- If you need to hem your jeans, take them to your tailor and ask to keep the original hem -- they’ll look like they are straight from the manufacturer and you'll be able to retain all the worn-in details the brand has added to the hem! But be careful not to go too short...most jeans shrink up to 1/2 an inch if you wash and tumble dry them regularly.

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-Check out denim with a low rise and a narrow bootcut or straight leg. Examples: Levi's Offender, Levi's Skinner, Diesel Zathan.
-Stay away from wide legs or flared jeans.

TIP -- To add some style and a couple extra inches you can always let out the bottom seam, which usually contains close to 1 extra inch of fabric.

TIP -- G-Star jeans are slightly shorter than most brands. If you're normally a 32 length in Diesel and Levi's, you may want to try a 34 length in your G-Stars.

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-Stick to low riding jeans. If you're really daring, try the Levi's Offender Jean--it has a 7 inch rise (one of the lowest in men's jeans).
-Avoid jeans with medium or high rise. The length in the rise will narrow the area between your waist and chest.

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-Look for a medium rise denim with a straighter leg to help balance out your proportions.
-Avoid extra low denim.

--Chord

June 12, 2006

Meet Tracy Matthews

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At a trade show we attended in Las Vegas this past February, one of the highlights was a new jewelry designer who combined classic materials with unexpected ones to create handsome and unique pieces. Here is a quick interview with the woman behind this great new brand.

Is Tracy Matthews a real person? Yes, I am real! Can you believe it?

What does she eat for breakfast? Bananas and Peanut butter...most days.

How long has the line been around? TMD men, a little over a year; Tracy Matthews Designs (women’s) 7 years.

What is the inspiration for the men’s line? The inspiration for all of my collections comes from many things: My yoga practice, fashion, art, nature, my travels, and an interest in combining the unusual. I really felt there was a void of really cool jewelry for men. I wanted to design things that are wearable, collectable and hip. In women’s jewelry, there has been a huge trend in charms and wood. My guy friends kept bugging me to make something for them, so I thought, “Why can’t I interpret these trends into something cool for a guy?” So I took some rosewood, created some current shapes, like horns and dog tags, and added some cool castings and rivets to the pieces, and voila...TMD men was created. Within a year, the collection has really evolved. The first collection only had 30 pieces and has since grown to 100 per collection.

Why do you use the materials you do? The current collection is comprised of hand carved rosewood, sterling silver rivets and oxidized sterling silver.

Where do you see the line going? Next season we are going to develop the wood and silver collections a bit more, adding more silver shapes to the wood, expanding on the more traditional aspect of the line with different shapes in cufflinks, experiment with different metal finishes and add more signature pieces. Going forward, I would like to incorporate steel into the collection...more to come. Super cool!

What else can you tell us about yourself?
Here are a few more facts about me:
- I am an avid yogini and yoga teacher. I have been practicing yoga since 1997 and have been teaching since 2001.
- I have always dreamed of being bi-coastal and am finally giving it a shot and will be living half time in NYC and SF.
- I love music and Karaoke (even though I have a horrible singing voice).
- I like to take naps on the weekend.
- Really cool people work for me and with me...without them, TMD would not be here.

--Chord