Monday, March 22, 2010

The Difference Between Best and O.K.






There were some of the best designers of "Nouveau Appalachian" gear in the world at the Inspiration show. Aesthetically I've wondered what is this movement about. I'm not 100% sure when I look at the participants. The scale of different designers and their means of production are often completely different. In many cases, like myself or my friend Robert, we are micro businesses. On the other end of the spectrum is RRL Ralph Lauren, who while having a high end small line like RRL, is as macro as you get. I'm never quite sure what qualifies as "legitimate". There were Nouveau Craftsman there showing their handmade pieces of denim, boots and bags made one piece at a time, and the guys doing small production runs of limited edition pieces. I definitely am not casting stones. I think that exclusivity and craft go hand in hand. To use the best parts and to be part of the production process are what make the difference in perfect garments. The price of the perfection is dear and that garment will be kept for a long long time. I've read many comments on blogs like ACL about companies bringing back old designs and quality at ridiculously high costs to the consumer. Those making such comments do not realize that the price of "the best of the best" materials and design and small craft production is incredibly high. The cost of made in China goods reflects the standardization of sewing techniques and materials, and the sacrifice of eco and socially friendly practices for pure profit. It can't go both ways. I use vegetable tanned leather that takes 3 months of soaking in a bark solution, from bark gleaned from mimosa trees. The animals are well treated farm animals from Europe so that they are large skins with no blemish. That is the testimonial of the quality of leather unsurpassed both in character...and ethics. As for the nature of craft...Walter Benjamin was a brilliant theorist who wrote a ground breaking article "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" asked the question what is the "Aura" of authenticity and the politics of "originality" in mass production. Benjamin proposed that since with mass produced goods there is no original piece, with its linage of ownership, cult of ritual and "high art" standing that the ritualistic nature of this form of production is smashed and the politics of it too. He wrote during a time where there was hope of new cultural politics tied up in the new "mass media" of the cinema. I suppose that after years of "mass production" that perhaps some people are longing for the ritual of slow production. That maybe the craftsman and small run clothing makers are becoming popular to return the "aura" and "authenticity" and linage back to clothing production.

In the pics...that is Snappygabs..Brian's booth, some amazing jackets from PatandMike..Mike. Included is a painted post war buco cafe racer, grizzly jacket, some early Harley shirts and some incredible 50s era two tone jackets (safer for the night riders). Thats a pic of me and Rin...and John Chapman and Mike..and that green jacket is one I havent sold for 5 years the rare East West backpack jacket...sweet!