Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quality Speaks for Itself

Santa was extra good to me this week; maybe I actually managed to subvert/sublimate my naughty nature just often enough in 2009. I must have, since they say you can’t fool him.

First up was something I’ve been jonesing for since I asked my friend No One Line where he got his dapper cycling cap. He referred me to Walz Caps. When I first visited their Web site, it seemed as if someone had been designing headwear for me for years, but had mischievously kept it a secret from me. I had a very hard time choosing a cap. (I settled on the black and gray wool model pictured at the bottom.)

I’d been shopping for just the right one for months, but with no luck. I owned a mass-production cotton Castelli job already; I’d used it for countless rides. It’s okay, but I was looking for quality -- and here it was. You can tell at a glance that a Walz cap is special, but until you think about it, you can’t say exactly why. It just makes a person look more… I don’t know… stylish, but in a quiet, European way? Unself-consciously cool? Maybe just good? Yeah, that’s it: Walz caps just make you look, and feel, good.

You can pin this down to specific details, such as a better cutting pattern, better materials, better craftsmanship, better esthetic, and so on. You can compare their subtly different look to more “unique,” hand-made caps out there made from baroque, colorful fabrics that just scream, “Look at me! I‘m so artsy, I can‘t stand myself!” You can even sit down to write a blog post vainly attempting to define ephemeral notions like quality and craftsmanship.

Or you can throw down your coin (and not much of it, by the way), wait breathlessly by the mailbox -- and then wear the thing everywhere until it falls off your head in tatters.

I’ve tried both approaches, and, as of this moment, I’m sticking with the latter.

Once you lay eyes on it, there's no doubt.

Next up: The other quality wool gift.

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