Thursday, April 7, 2011

Leather Jackets: Authenticity, Heritage and Google

 I have not rambled in a while.  But lately I have found myself perplexed and confused about vintage, heritage and authenticity.  It is of course compounded by the added burden of spending my life savings trying to recreate authentic and perfect leather jackets with my new Himel Brothers brand.  I try very hard not to be critical of other clothing designers.  I always encourage beautiful clothing but of late there is a disturbing blurring of the lines between vintage brands, heritage brands and crappy knockoff branding cashing in on the craze.  Simultaneously, google seems to have been co-opted with its ranking and more and more brands are camping on the vintage leather jacket search while selling really crappy stuff. 


 I am really confused.  Why is Levis producing a Buco jacket?  And why does it have the worst thinest material, bad cut and fake zippers mocking the very beauty of an original Buco.  Surly nobody who knows what a Buco is wants that?  Why are they not focusing on their own heritage?  This is layer apon layer of weird.  If you google horsehide, vintage leather jacket or Buco 65 percent of the search results are cheap knock offs, junk overseas leather manufacturers and people camping on the words.  Google is either not paying attention or does not care.  Heck what is heritage or made locally really mean.

Seems like everybody who can buy a Free and Easy magazine is going to work for clothing brands that can add a chin strap to a shirt design and pump one out in China for 2 bucks.  It is very sad.  I really would like to see designers that focus on what they are good at and respect the past or try something new.
 Knocking off the past in China as cheaply as possible isn't helping fashion, and isn't helping style.  Im a snob...if I pay 1800 dollars for a jacket it better have cost at least 500 in materials  and labour to build and it better be beautiful and indestructible.  Why is google raising people in the search rankings that are not what they appear...and why do 90 percent of the comments that come into my blog  now contain links to Pakistani leather manufacturers?  Really lets get some sense out there before I have a melt down.. 





12 comments:

  1. Hello Mr Himel from Sydney Australia! I really enjoy reading your blog, it is a great insight into a very overlooked category, Authenticity. And of course great vintage leather jackets. I have a jacket from Tokyo I purchased last year, I would love to share photos of it with you.
    regards Joe

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  2. Hey Joseph thanks for not being a spambot! I would love to see your pics at himelator@hotmai.com

    keep the faith

    dh

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  3. Hey Dave (from another Australian fan). Thanks for your thoughtful post. It sure is frustrating when multinational corporations mass-producing stuff in the 3rd world start trying to pass off their wares as true "vintage". I'm not sure if there is a solution to this other than a long process of education; trying to change people's mindsets and values from the ground up. Definately an imposing task when you think about how much these companies spend on marketing but what other way is there? I think your blog makes a useful contribution in that direction.

    By the way, I really enjoyed your recent pictures from Japan, particularly the ones taken in the tanning factory with all the hides and the vats.

    Cheers, Tom.

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  4. Thanks Tom
    this is really reaching a crescendo this year...in a way without bad clothing and branding I would be nowhere but the reality is the creep is bad. Someone reminded me it is about making money...I obviously lost focus somewhere..I thought it was about making beautiful clothing

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  5. Yeah, well I guess this kind of reflects the different sets of values which underlie these two different models of clothing and manufacture. One is about mass production and economies of scale, exploiting labor and lack of regulation in the developing world, cutting every possible corner to squeeze a few extra cents of profit out of every unit sold with the ultimate and singular aim of making as much money as possible. On the other side, you've got a far more complex and varied set of values and goals in play. Things like pride in work, creativity, sense of connection with product and customer, respect for people at every stage of the process and, of course, a decent level of remuneration for those doing the work. When you think about how dominant the former model is in this day and age, talking about these other values can feel a little subversive, no?

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  6. succinctly put...you sound exactly like me...I think it is threatening to suggest the later values...they require paying more as a consumer...and respecting more as a manufacturer...doesn't wash with the current god of economics and money.

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  7. David, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. Your values and standards for leather products are very respectable, and I couldn't agree more with you. I'm pumped to see some of our items made it in one of your entries! Keep up the good work!
    -Adam

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  8. Koalas...
    I keep sending people to your ebay to look for jackets..you are the Nevada gold mine of leather these days!

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  9. yes, I feel exactly the same way. I adore Levi's, Bass, LLBean...and so many other makers that built their heritage on quality...and I am sickened by the garbage that is produced overseas. I started boycotting cheap stuff in the early 80s and deal in vintage because it is quality! I have lost respect for any company that moved overseas, that is pretending that the garbage they produce today is good...
    If we search hard,we can still find Goods made in a country with well-paid workers, of quality materials, but it's almost always a tiny maker! Just like 100 years ago!
    And Google...that is a crazy mystery!

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  10. Hello, Mr. David Himel. I have read your blog since you began it, and I have to thank you a lot. You have taught me and everyone else a real history lesson and how to distinguish and appreciate true worksmanship. I really hope one of this days I can meet you, since you seem a very interesting individual, you really love what you do.

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  11. Honestly, the whole Google search engine thing is easily explained. In third world countries, there are entire banks of individuals attempting to artificially rank up hits on Google. This is extremely frustrating to those looking for real goods or information. Nobody cares about what some 12 year old Indian or Chinese kid made in a sweatshop, but the team of keyword spammers keeps their crap floating high. Google needs to weed these out, but they want more penetration into these countries.

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