Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer in Kensington: Not Leather Time

I live in one of the most amazing neighborhoods in my city.  The cool part about Toronto is the instant and incredible transition of Winter into Summer.  This weekend after a long winter of snow and rain...the weather has broken and Summer is here.   Kensington market is the best place in the city of Toronto.  It is also the engine behind the vintage clothing business here.  For years this place was known as the Jewish Market.  It serviced the immigrant Jewish communities that filled the warehouses down the street sewing the clothing of North America in the early 20th Century.  When the masses of sewers would pour out of their Western red cedar beamed factories, they would head to the synagogues and food markets in the "Jewish Market".  Most of my ancestors immigrated to this neighborhood.  Over the years when the schmata business migrated northward, and the hippy/yuppies transformed other neighborhoods sucking the soul out of them, Kensington remained a place for the disenfranchised, the young and immigrants.  The sewing factories of Spadina transformed from Jewish and Irish, to Italian and eventually Chinese and Vietnamese sewers.  Many became computer software and other "chic" downtown business spaces.  Kensington has somehow remained moderately democratic and diverse.  The Jewish sewing business' transformed themselves into vintage clothing stores and the deli s and the dairies became cheese stores, hipster local food butcher shops and immigrant food supplies for Africans and other communities.  The Pearl Harbor Tatoo shop is a classic example of re-appropriation.  The Pearl Harbor  modeled itself on a 1940s shop, and the owner Bill managed to buy the 100 year old shelves from my neighbor Rotman's Haberdashery when poor David Rotman had to go to the nursing home.  Bill used the 100 year old 3 generations patina of Davids hat shop to build a beautiful vintage aesthetic into his tattoo parlour.  While some might think it unseemly, I think it is a stunning example of the spirit of the Rotman family living on in a new and beautiful context.  I love my hood and all its diversity!  It makes finding vintage jackets a joy.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

FRENCH CANCAN: Civil A1 jacket… (part 3)

FRENCH CANCAN: Civil A1 jacket… (part 3): "I had a dream !!! …and David did it for me !!!! As you could read it on this post , mister FCC hunt for this model for a long time ago… M..."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Things That Bug Me: Other Stuff

Things that bug me about bloggin:  Ok...nice that Blogger is free and lets anybody pop up a website but really add something to the world, write, find, search...just add something.

Things that bug me about Blogger:  Cool new would be nice if they told me about it...and geeze why do my widgets no longer all work...where are all my followers?  You would think a mega corp like google would have the cowboys to make sure that they bits and pieces all mesh.

Things that bug me about posting:  I really want to add to the world but I never hear back from the readers popping in and out of my blogs.  Leave a comment so that the 300 spammers trying to get links to their "made in Pakistan" leather sites are not the only comments I get to delete!

Things that bug me about bloggers:  Why is it that some bloggers who started with me way back when, and then become super successful bloggers with mega millions of readers now take the links off their pages.  All those links were good enough to get readers from other dudes like me and my blog  at the beginning of their baby empires, eh?  Seems like you are only as good as your community...not good karma! (not pointing fingers at anybody).

Things that bug me about some companies:  I get contacted by people all the time that want to know the price of something, or where can I get this or that.  Or maybe they try and sell me a leather jacket.  They always seem to be looking out for number 1...themselves.  Hey, if you try to sell your jacket on ebay or craigslist don't email me looking to get some crazed retail price after trying to sell your shit to every Tom, Dick and Harry...I don't want your stinkin jacket.  If you call me asking for help and I ask you for an interview after giving you free information for an hour...don't turn me down and stop returning my phone calls you selfish*&^* ers.

OK, so my good good friend Phil grew up with a very interesting dad.  Phil's pops wasn't the best dad and I will be delicate here.  Papa Foubert was not know for his patriarchal skills, but he was quite well known for his cult like status as race car driver, biker and local track junkie.  I am going to write more about Larry when Phil coughs up some stories at poker.  For now I spent some time scanning Phil's collection of photos of his dearly departed pops and I am going to share a few.  It is great guys like my good friend Phil that make my blog fun, and my life interesting.  His generosity with his dad's life gives me windows into my own life.  I used to buy Revell model stock cars and build them when I was a kid, meanwhile Phil was sitting on the hood of his dad's car right after a races at Pinecrest and Flamboro.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Inspiration: Part 3:

 Well, the best part about the Inspiration show was hanging about for the slow meetings with people I otherwise only had seen on the internet or ebay.  After years of emailing people it is rare for all of us to be in the same room together.  For example I met Derek Harris of Lewis Leathers years ago via ebay when I was selling original Lightning zippers on ebay.  He inquired if I could get more.  I emailed him back "why?"and he told me he had taken over Lewis Leathers intent on resurrecting it from the abyss of history.  This was our first meeting for real in real existent face to face form.  His friend and store

owner Pete Makarski came from England just to see the show.  Now there was no shortage of drama...poor Derek's goods did not make it through customs for the first day, and he was deathly ill, but with the help of Pete he got his goods and booth set up the next day.  Cool boots and gloves!

The Rising Sun vintage booth was killer, looked like an old mining camp.
 If you are interested in Denim, and denim of the old west, there were plenty of jeans on show that were older then a hundred years.  Boss of the Road miners jeans had some of the coolest graphics on their tags that I have ever seen.  This show was about design not necessarily buying and wearing garments.  In fact the rougher the jeans the better because there is no urge to keep them and wear them if the right buyer comes along.

 Junkyardjeans made me this bad-ass patch from their traditional chain-stitch machine.  I really enjoyed it for the hour I had it before it was stolen.  Eric owns a cool 1950s green and white Langlitz jacket in the background for which  Dave from Langlitz told me a great story which I will tell in a later post.
 One of my favorite moments was when my good friend and co-conspirator John Chapman met face to face with the lads that own Real McCoys.  North America's premier genius A-2 maker JC of Goodwear Leather meets the best A-2 makers of Japan....Real McCoys .   They chatted about techniques, leather, suppliers and parts.  It was an incredible head to head meeting.  No one held back, there was no competition, just mutual admiration. Each one wearing one of their own creations.  It is just amazing to see the commitments to these micro-brands of vintage inspired collections and vintage.

 There is no glory in starting a clothing brand.  Of course I had my Himel Brothers Leather jackets at the show.  I was very very proud when Atsu Tagaya, Japanese clothing genius and designer purchased one of my jackets and was wearing it while showing his own line of clothing off to some of the most important Japanese collectors and designers in the world.  Needless to say there were some fringe benefits as well as the clientel was quite becoming!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Inspiration Part 2 and 3: L.A. and Vintage

Inspiration was cool.  I forget how much fun working in vintage clothing can be...nevermind the excitement of developing Himel Brothers Leather .  I went to LA in the depths of winter and emerged pleasantly happy.  I meet the legends and owners of Langlitz leather in Seattle.  Dave told me some great stories about a vintage Langlitz piece on displ in my booth.

I hung out with my good friend Robert Medellin. Rob has a new boot project on the go Ace Boots...look em up on Facebook.  Here is a picture of Zip Stevenson of Hollywood Trading Co.  checking out Roberts boot and giving some good criticism.  My good buddy Eric from JunkYardJeans whom I shared my booth with made me an awesome Himel Brothers Patch with his vintage custom chain-stitch machine.  Unfortunately a guy stole it at the show (I have his picture but I have chosen to let him live with the karma).  Check out the cutie girl mezmorized by the sewing machine.  There were designers of every ilk there.

Samurai vintage clothing, Lewis Leather's Derek Harris, his good friend Pete who runs a cool skateboard shop in England, everybody in the vintage and new design business attended the show.  Levis and other heritage brands had booths as well.  I will post more photos as soon as a finish processing them!  Thanks for reading!