Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sharing the First One!

So being a chronic oversharer I am proud to show off my first model. Its a size 38 1920s style goatskin jacket. The design is super primitive with a rare large one piece back panel and side gussets with D rings. The shawl collar is complimented by the 1920s cotton taped grommet zipper. The leather is 1.2 mm (3 oz) vegetable tanned goatskin identical in weight, tannage and character to original 20s-30s leather, with cotton topstiching. I tracked down original 30s buttons and have a small supply that I will be using until they run out. The liner is 100% cotton flannel Saskatchewan tartan. This is the very first, I will be making more this week tweaking style versions, design and techniques. I will say that I am very proud of the result!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amelia: My Work in the Movies

Just a little over a year ago I was contacted through my blog by Kasia Walicka Maimone looking for some consulting regarding a film project she was working on. That project turned out to be Amelia, starring Hilary Swank, Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor. I hadn't worked on films before however the circumstances regarding this movie were different. It was set in the 30s, and Amelia Earhart actually lived and worked up the street from me. I immediately began to research the archives at Purdue University...browsing through their extensive collection donated by Earhart. After our first consultation I became acutely aware of Kasia's commitment to historical accuracy. The leather jackets that they had made to that date had not struck as historically accurate. I ended up both renting some of my collections to the production of the movie and even selling an early european trench coat that was recut into Amelia's long coat. I was excited to go to the premier of the film on Friday..not so much for the story, I barely paid attention, but for the beauty of the costumes (of course looking out for some of my pieces, lol). The wardrobe was fantastic..except for a few awkward jackets (notably a Belstaff jacket that appears somewhat plastic like with a logo on the arm) the movie authentically replicates the look and feel of 1920s-30s America (and Canada). I was most excited to see Fred Noonan played by Christopher Eccleston (Dr. Who Fame) wearing one of my jackets...Nice!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halle Bros...and Halle Berry ...Thats Hot!

Oh..I will state the obvious..Halle Berry is one of the most beautiful women alive today without question. From a nerdy teenage actress she blossomed into a sensual talented goddess. Now according to my cursory google research...which we all know as potentially flawed she received her nomenclature from the famed retailer Halle Bros. of Cleveland.

Halle Bros was one of America's earliest grand retailers. Founded by the sons of recent immigrant Moses Halle in 1891, this store and later chain became one of the great landmarks in downtown Cleveland. Samuel Horatio Halle and Salmon Potland Chase Halle typified young Jewish entrepreneurs of the day. They bought a hat and furrier store and quickly turned it into a premier retailer of ready to wear.

This coat I have pictured (for sale on ebay) is one of their early mens overcoats. It has the classic early century primitive design..with a small tucked collar, oversized cellulose buttons and a cool reversible feature. One side is leather for inclement conditions and the other side is gabardine for fairer cold weather. How amazing is that...holding a piece of early American history!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

These are a Few of my Favorite Things!

Ok, so not every post is about jackets. Fall has come and Canadian thanksgiving and Simcha Torah came on the weekend. I celebrated of course by going up to my sisters place on the Bruce Trail and eating copious amounts of local foods. Sis's neighbour is an Italian trained chef and his house sits right on the headwaters of the Boyne river, a spring fed brook trout river. I awoke stuffed full of turkey and listened to the gurgles of the river running right by the back door, looked out and watched the brookies waiting for flotsam to eat flowing down the river. My wife packed us up to go for a 10 k walk down the Bruce...where I put on my new boots (vintage Herman's) and my vintage Carhartts and trekked down the hillsides. It was cold and I was amazed how incredible my vintage duck canvass pants and Survivor boots performed. My feet were cushioned and warm. Even the burrs and thistles didn't stick to my 80 year old pants, they were incredible.
The Carhartts are from the 1940s...Hamilton Carhartt opened the company in 1889. This guy went from a small 5 sewer shop to an empire. He was a trade unionist to his core...I once sold a deadstock 1930's Carhartt chore jacket and the flasher had 3 paragraphs celebrating the unionized employees of the Carhartt plant. And the best part...there was a plant right here in Toronto...proudly emblazoned on the hardware of his amazing overalls!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Perfect Skin: Harvest Time

Fall has come and my labours have born fruit. As the leaves change I took a nice long drive up to the tannery and finally worked out the perfect skin. My horsehide and goatskin are finished, and they are perfect. The leather is an absolutely perfect recreation of 1930s horsehide and goatskin. The leather is soaked and shrunk for 3 months in a bark solution and cured and finished with an absolutely grainy perfect patina..and its strong. Wow we pulled on some of the belly skin and could not tear it..smooth and character ridden, flexible and soft with just a little stretch. This is absolutely the most perfect leather ever made, even my 1950 cafe racer blends in perfectly with the hide.