In the fall of 2006, on Styleforum.net and Superfuture.com, two sites dedicated for the most part to men’s fashion, “Where can I get a W+H tiger fleece slim black hoodie?” was a commonly posted question. The previous winter season, the durable, fitted hooded fleece sweatshirts made by the brand then named “Spruce” (the name was changed to W+H because of copyright problems) had become quite popular on the fora, where mania for a specific article of clothing can be contagious. The anticipation for the new run of hoodies was feverish by late 2006, and long threads appeared in each forum in which posters raved about their purchases and kept one another apprised of the availability of certain sizes and colors at different stores across the USA and Canada. More than one retailer was surprised by the rapidity with which their W+H stock was sold. One retailer, Steven Alan, sold out of a shawl collar fleece that became a favorite among the readers of the two forums in a few hours. Posters went so far as to pay intermediaries, called proxies, to procure items for them from stores in Japan.
Leaving aside the very interesting phenomenon that took place, W+H and the darker, more expensive sister line, Wings&Horns, both designed, and manufactured by the Vancouver, B.C., based company, CYC, are popular for good reason. Both brands offer high quality and good design at very (relatively) reasonably prices, though some might find $150 for a hooded sweatshirt a little steep.
Both W+H and Wings & Horns (often referred to as W&H) have suffered from lack of design direction now and again, but the quality of the manufacture has been consistently high for many seasons now. For the Fall/Winter 2007 season, the lines have actually been consolidated into a single brand under the Wings & Horns label, aimed at a slightly more sophisticated customer. In addition to the hoodies that have become so popular, and which the designers can pretty much do by the numbers, there is a terrific Cowichan sweater, inspired by the traditional clothing of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, a fleece duffel coat, and a wine-colored striped henley shirt (which I have preordered for myself – gimme now.) A second brand, Reigning Champ, which sounds a little too Footlocker-esque to me, is planned for Spring 08, and will apparently take much of what used to be the basic pieces of W+H.
Me, I’m still trolling Ebay for a slightly faded hooded, zip sweatshirt with the silhouette of a bird in a heavy print on the front that I saw at Stels in Boston the summer of 2004. It is one of my biggest regrettable non-purchases ever (so far).