Thursday, November 24, 2011

Military Ensigns: Leather and Decoration.......

 One of the common modifications applied to vintage leather is decoration with military insignias. Cherished jackets either military issue or civilian made often bare the patches and souvenirs of the owners service in the Army, Air Force or Navy.   The history and traditions associated with those symbols are usually strongly associated with A-2s  as patch work applied to leather jackets from the American Air Force or Army Air Forces of World War Two.  What is often forgotten is that other branches and armed forces of other countries had long and deep traditions of military insignias and mascots.

During a recent trip to St. Johns, Newfoundland, one of my local friends insisted I have a pint at The Crows Nest.   Until my arrival I was utterly unaware of these storied walls.  The Crows Nest was established in WW 2 to provide a safe place for Naval Officers to unwind during active duty.  St. Johns harbour, one of the oldest in North America was a launch point for many of the convoys that supplied troops and materials for the European Campaign.  Outside the harbour safety of St. Johns, Nazi U boats lay in wait  to hunt down ships and entire convoys.  It was a game of hunt and run between the fast U boats and the Corvettes of the Canadian Navy.  Spies were everywhere and Officers needed a facility to drink and discuss the war.

As was told by the bartender in the club, naval colours, mascots, female Varga pinups, photos and war souvenirs were both exchanged and donated to the club over the years of active service for the Canadian Royal Navy.  There are a million stories here but I will not spoil the tales told within the walls of this club of secrecy.  The periscope was from a captured German U boat.
 I would point out that many designers today still borrow from the rich and often mystical iconography of the young men risking their lives fighting the Axis in WW 2.  From bike gangs to military fashion, the power of these images still resonate!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Himel Brothers Leather: New Designs and Traditions of Mixing Media

I have not posted about my leather jacket project Himel Bros in a while and in fact I've barely posted at all on my blog here.  Its not for the lack of love I have for my blogs to be sure.  I have simply been so absorbed in the Himel Brothers projects that I have barely had time to come up for air.

I am of course doing everything top to bottom at the shop.  I design the jackets, labels, pick fabrics, do branding, blogging, webstuff and on an on and on including putting the button holes on the jackets. 

I between jobs I still have to go out and find vintage jackets to buy and sell, post stuff up on my website and communicate with all my customers.  We are always looking for customers and given the hard times people are in I am always trying to make everybody feel welcome and have a great experience for their hard earned and kept money! 
 Lately I've been working on projects in mixed media.  One of the great traditions of vintage leather companies was to combine fabrics, leather and textures to create really crazy abominations of leather jackets.  These jackets often had so much flare that they made the wearer look extra tough.   From blanket jackets to Grizzly jackets I've posted in the past about the aesthetics of these combinations which often created loud displays and statements for the wearer.  Recently I made a few versions myself.  The buffalo hair on with brown horsehide was one.  And the last month I have been experimenting with wool, oilskin and leather.  I'm really really proud of the results, especially the plaid wool goat skin Heron model.  I think it turned out really snappy  with the contrasting chin strap and the deadstock navy style urethane buttons.   Super cool!