The AETHER Essentials: Alan Castro
The AETHER Essentials: Alan Castro
At AETHER, we design for everything from the city to the outdoors and from motorcycle rides to skiing. Our interests are as vast as the functionality of our collections, so we got together with some friends of the brand and members of the AETHER team to share their favorite pieces. Stay tuned for more AETHER Essentials posting each week.
Photos by Alan Castro.
WHAT PIECES HE CHOSE TO HIGHLIGHT: (1) Moleskine journal in a vintage crocodile folio I found at a Swedish flea market; (2) Comme des Garçons wallet; (3) J. Lindeberg long wingtips from my favorite Stockholm vintage store, Herr Judit; (4) Vintage bandana; (5) Vintage Stetson beaver cowboy hat from the Long Beach flea market; (6) J.Crew shirt with Thom Browne tie; (7) AETHER Charter Pant; (8) AETHER Precip Trench; (9) Canon PowerShot G16; (10) KeySmart key holder: I hate key rings and keys jingling around my pocket, so I use a KeySmart organizer—the keys swivel out like a Swiss Army Knife; (11) AETHER Triangle Travel Case.
WHAT HE SHOOTS: As a creative director working in the fashion industry, I work with a lot of photography but I don’t often shoot myself for work, so that’s what made this project especially interesting for me. Mostly I shoot things that inspire me (art, architecture, design), or I record experiences I can use later.
NEVER LEAVES THE HOUSE WITHOUT: I never leave the house without a recording device. So that’s usually my iPhone or my Canon G16, but a lot of times that’s a small notebook for sketching. I also use an app on my iPhone called Paper that I sketch with. I carry an inexpensive fountain pen to write and sketch. Now that I live in LA, the sun is too harsh so I’ll often wear my Stetson or a straw hat.
DREAM PROJECT: My dream project would be to take an abandoned, rugged factory space located on a beautiful, desolate coast somewhere and turn it into an elegant hotel with a cool restaurant and design shop. It would take all the things I love—architecture, interior design, furniture design, clothing design, branding, a love of food and design, marketing—and wrap that into one cohesive project.
FAVORITE PLACES TO TRAVEL: My family just got back from three weeks on Maui so that was pretty fab. We also lived in Sweden, and there is nothing prettier than driving through the Swedish countryside. We’ve been to Provence several times, and that is always so magical. Our next extended trip will be in the Italian countryside, maybe Emilia-Romagna somewhere.
WHY HE CHOSE TO HIGHLIGHT THESE PIECES: (1) Vintage Belt Buckle: This is my favorite belt. The buckle is vintage Zuni, and it was a gift from my father around my 18th birthday. In Zuni culture the snake is a positive symbol of rebirth and renewal; (2) Rogue Territory Jeans: These are the "Officer” trousers in Japanese indigo canvas by Rogue Territory. They’re the perfect cut, weight, and my favorite color—natural indigo; (3) AETHER Moorland Jacket: This is the perfect fabric and style for any weather and for layering. There are lots of pockets for my everyday carry, and it’s great for travel to different climates; (4) Studio D’Artisan Vest: I often wear vests, and this one is made in an off-white canvas by a Japanese denim brand called Studio D'Artisan; (5) Tricker’s Boots: I have had these brogue boots from my favorite shoe company, Tricker’s, for 20-plus years. They’re classic, top-quality English shoemaking; (6) SALT. x AETHER Scout Sunglass: These have the best lenses—they’re incredibly lightweight and perfect for motorcycle rides; (7) The James Brand Knife: I have carried a pocket knife since I was 10 years old, and this one is a beautiful modern design by James.
NEVER LEAVES THE HOUSE WITHOUT: I have made it a habit to wear a waterproof wrist watch and a turquoise ring—and I always carry a pocket knife.
FAVORITE DESTINATIONS: Somewhere quiet by the waters of the Mediterranean, in the mountains, or camping in the desert.
DREAM TRIP: Living on a sailboat for two years and slowly making my way from the North Cape in Norway to the southern islands of Greece and Turkey.
WHY HE CHOSE TO HIGHLIGHT THESE PIECES: (1) Antique brass compass: It’s a good luck charm. I’m a tiny bit superstitious; (2) Antique Case “Rancher” pocket knife: This was a gift from a friend in Sweet Grass, Montana after I attended my first cattle branding; (3) The Department of Scenarios flask filled with Hibiki 17, because some days are better than others; (4) AETHER Welded Backpack: This is my go-to travel pack. It’s functional, has great styling, and is low-key technical; (5) AETHER Cashmere Watch Cap: I dress this up or dress it down depending on where I am. From Telluride to Patagonia, it’s the most comfortable thing I could put on my head; (6) Beoplay A2 speaker: I need music wherever I go, and this bluetooth speaker sounds amazing and is easy to pack. Music keeps crew morale up when waiting on that perfect light; (7) AETHER Shelter Hoodie has been around the world with me. It is great to travel with; it packs up small, and it keeps me warm and dry no matter where I am; (8) Leica M3 with Summicron 35mm lens: I love shooting with this camera. I’ll leave a roll in for months at a time, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when the film comes back; (9) Nikon Binoculars: These small binoculars are always in my pack for scouting missions. They save a lot of time on whether we need to push on or not.
WHAT HE SHOOTS: I shoot a combination of cameras and lenses depending on the project. My go to setup is a Sony a7R II with Leica glass. For bigger commercial projects I will shoot with a Hasselblad H5 and a Phase One digital back.
FAVORITE LOCATION TO PHOTOGRAPH: I spent 10 days in Iceland for Overland Journal in 2012 driving Land Cruiser VZJ 70s across glaciers. I still feel like I have just scratched the surface of that country.
NEVER GOES ON A SHOOT WITHOUT: Doing my homework on the location. My photography and film work is so heavily location based that I pour a ton of effort into researching the sense of place before shooting there. To me, the location is just as important a character in the frame as the product being sold.
DREAM PHOTO SHOOT: I really want to go to the Okavango Delta and do a proper automotive shoot while on safari.
WHY HE CHOSE TO HIGHLIGHT THESE PIECES: (1) AETHER Alpine Crew Sweater: A throwback to old ski sweaters. It’s thicker than you would expect. It’s very fitted, but it still moves with you with ease. I love the thick merino. This and a shell, and you are good to go; (2) AETHER Cashmere Stripe Hat and Waffle Henley are great to throw on après-ski; (3) POC Helmet: An old one, but a good one. I find the adjustability of POC to be superior. I picked this one because my wife asked that I wear a bright helmet so she can always find me. Helmets are just better, skiing without one is like driving without a seatbelt. Maybe I'm not that cool anymore, but I like living, and an operational brain is a big part of that. Also I love tree skiing, and if you are charging, mistakes can and will happen; (4) AETHER Crest Down Jacket: Favorite ski coat ever. Down is so versatile. If it is mild out, I just wear a t-shirt underneath. If it is nasty out, you could not be better protected—solid fit, tons of features, and a tall enough collar that you can sink down into it for protection; (5) Wagner Skis: The only things I have ever had made custom for me were these skis and my motorcycle—a bespoke touch on my two favorite activities. These skis, designed by Pete Wagner, are a marvel to behold. I gave him the challenge to make a ski to get me through the three stages of every hill in the California Sierras: Powdered sugar on top, packed in the middle, and mashed potatoes at the base. That's a tall order with a tremendous range of requirements. After going back and forth with Pete on my skiing style, weight placement, center of gravity, carving, how I turn, and my background as an East Coast racing kid, he designed these skis to take me where I want to go, how I want to get there, and with all of the joy I receive from this sport. I have been converted. Worth every penny; (6) Twizzlers, Starburst, Swedish Fish: There is nothing better than guilt-free candy consumption. When trekking or backcountry skiing via cat or helicopter, you burn a tremendous amount of calories with all of the activity. Sugary treats, as well as hydration, keeps me from running out of gas. I don't get as many days in the backcountry as I would like, but when I am there, I make sure to milk every last turn. Candy helps me do that. Plus, my kids love it when I have chairlift treats for them that are leftover from my last trip. We call them "power-ups.” It keeps them going for a few more runs; (7) Hestra gloves: Not a better fitting glove on the market. So good Patagonia threw in the towel and just sells Hestra. First time you put them on, you get it—they already feel broken in.
WHAT HE SKIS: Wagner custom skis.
FAVORITE WINTER DESTINATION: Japan—have been there twice and will certainly be back. So much snow, such nice people, fantastic food, and a thrill to be somewhere where the backcountry is still being explored. Just amazing.
NEVER HITS THE SLOPES WITHOUT: Boring answer, but multiple pairs of lenses for my goggles. Visibility is king, and being able to adjust throughout the day is paramount to both safety and enjoyment. The farther you can see, the faster you can go.
IDEAL MOUNTAIN TRIP: Trekking into a mountain cabin for some backcountry skiing with friends. I prefer to have libations and food brought in via snowmobile when possible. I don't do the dehydrated food thing anymore. College was fun and all, but I have grown up, and I appreciate a huge day, followed by a well-cooked meal and drinks with friends.
WHY SHE CHOSE TO HIGHLIGHT THESE PIECES: (1) POC Helmet: I tend to wear a black coat and gray or black pants on the hill so my friends can actually spot me on the mountain with a white helmet; (2) AETHER Merino Half-Zip Sweater: this sweater transitions from the mountain to dinner, looking great all along the way; (3) Sorel boots: these got me through the winter—I love the pop of color in the laces, and they give me a little height thanks to a wedge, but they're also totally weatherproof and comfortable; (4) POC goggle: the bright pink adds a little bit of playful femininity to my look as I race past the boys; (5) AETHER Descent Snow Pant: my favorite ski pant long before I worked for the brand—super flexible and seriously flattering; (6) Cashmere hat: a great way to hide helmet hair at après ski; (7) Skiba Gaiter: the floral print also helps add flair to my often dark ski outfit—plus, it's just cute.
WHAT SHE SKIS: I'm skiing on Volkl Kenjas now and have been for a few seasons. I love them but really want to try a pair of Black Crows this year.
FAVORITE MOUNTAIN TOWN: Aspen, always. It's home. But we went to Chamonix to shoot Fall/Winter '17 this year, and it certainly made a strong case for itself.
NEVER HITS THE SLOPES WITHOUT: AETHER Descent ski pants and chapstick in my pocket.
DREAM SKI TRIP: There are two. I've been dying to do a girls ski trip to the Alps. I'm thinking St. Anton because it recently connected to several other ski areas through a lift system, making it the largest ski area in Austria. You can start your day in one town, have lunch in another, and après in another. Sounds amazing. And my other dream trip is Portillo, Chile—I've always wanted to ski there during our summer, which is their winter. I'd stay at Hotel Portillo where you essentially eat, hang out, and ski with the same people for a week so it turns into an incredible bonding experience in addition to all the phenomenal turns.
WHY HE CHOSE TO HIGHLIGHT THESE PIECES: (1) The AETHER Welded Duffle is the perfect size for carrying essentials; (2) Stylmartin boots are known for their durability, comfort, and clean design; (3) Ruby helmets are the best looking and most comfortable; (4) the CruzTOOLS RoadTech tool kit comes in handy when you have to make a minor adjustment to your bike on the road; (5) the AETHER Navigator Motorcycle Jacket rules for long-haul riding; (6) the AETHER Ramble Motorcycle Pant is a sleek alternative to bulky moto pants; (7) the SALT. x AETHER Explorer Sunglass because we built these with motorcycle riding in mind, making the frames lightweight and adding strategic windshields to maximize visibility; (8) the AETHER Moto Gloves (available soon) are just awesome.
WHAT HE RIDES: BMW 1200 GS
FAVORITE ROAD: Highway 1 north of San Francisco heading toward Oregon—it's full of slow, sweeping turns through the redwoods.
NEVER GOES ON A RIDE WITHOUT: Abrasion-resistant jacket—and a helmet of course.
DREAM RIDE: Stelvio Pass and Furka Pass in the Alps of Italy and Switzerland, respectively. These roads are legendary for riding (and driving), with lots of hairpin turns and creeping elevation as you make your way up the mountains. The view's not bad either.