Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Locavoirs, Leather and Mindfulness....

 Part of the great struggle of both the vintage leather business and the new leather business is that of ethics.  Mindfulness is that process of becoming aware of the self and seeing all things as interconnected.  The local food movement is an example of mindful shopping where participants prefer to buy from local producers where they know the source of their food and how it was grown vs. buying by price.  Oddly my leather jacket project Himel Brothers has taught me valued lessons on the kinds of problems that indigenous manufacturers may have faced as they progressed their business.  Every day I get 2 to 3 emails and spams to this blog from Pakistani leather manufacturers offering to make me jackets from my patterns for the price of 47-57 dollars per jacket.  How wonderful!  I cannot even pay for the leather in one jacket at that price.  It makes for a very interesting debate amongst my customers and my retailers about costs and pricing.
 Now I generally don't think anything I make is average.  Certainly I aspire to not only achieve the quality and character of my vintage collection in my new jackets but I am also trying to achieve the zen nature and longevity that original jackets imbued.  Environmentally speaking I have to know each of my suppliers, and design perfect life long lasting styles that are made of ethical materials.  While not 100% local in the sense of coming from my neighborhood or Province, each supplier is vetted for what they are making and how they are making.  Perhaps the differences between lovingly grown horses, slaughtered and gently treated and then vegetable tanned in tree bark in Japan is not always
 readily apparent to the consumer?  The jackets are not indestructible, nor do they glow with electronica or transport the wearer to another planet.  Simply put the pressures for me are to make perfect technical replicas out of organic materials and not be the guy using my skills and knowledge to make 47 dollar jackets in Pakistan and sell them for half of what I am currently doing.  People ask me why and how I do things.  I think to myself...I make life long lasting, beautiful, well made, well sourced organic jackets that like my vintage collection will age and die gracefully.  It is something to think about when you are buying your next 200 dollar made in (where ever) jacket...all that energy and all the negativity that goes into making something cheaply will be worn right on your back!  Producers back in the day sought to be price competitive whilst increasing features, branding and quality.  Old makers reached the pinnacles of that paradigm and new competitors could only compete on pricing.  It was that downward push on pricing via cheaper imports and a less educated consumer that lead to the extinction of domestic garment makers.  How sad really because the consumer actually stopped caring about what they were wearing and chose simulated fashion, or simulated quality in deference to price!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wool, Leather, and Canvass: Spring is Coming

 Well the winter never really came this year.  I am behind on my posting.  I really feel badly about it but my Himel Brothers  brand has been eating up all my time.  I am making a quick post to celebrate some of the most lovely mixed media I have seen in a while.  Mixed media really refers to the elements that make up a jacket that are not as much aesthetic as a way to combine natural materials to cope with differing service needs.  In the days before synthetics, combining different organic materials often adapted jackets and outerwear to handle more inclement conditions.  One of my brilliant Swiss customers sent me this Heron he purchased and broke in.  It has a great patina but more importantly I combined original 1930s wool blankets to create a vintage liner to the jacket for extra warmth.  These types of modifications were often done by workers in the 1920s and 30s to make their jackets more practical for service.  This Heron can be purchased at VMC Originals in Zurich.

This tradition of using leather as a reinforcement is a real heritage.  Pre 1900 leather was often used as a liner to wool jackets.  Odd but true, the smart design of the 1930s reversed this theme and outerwear makers realized leather really deserved to serve as reinforcement on high wear areas.  Check out the Montgomery Ward coat, the  leather shows up on all the high wear zones increasing durability.

 The leather elbow pads almost appear to be similar in design and construction to 1960s flat track racing jackets by Bates, Lancer, Abc and other great racing companies.  Same idea different era.
Wool for warmth, Canvas for waterproofness and light weight and leather for wear, as leather becomes quite hard on its own in extreme cold.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Inspiration 2012; All Aboard the Queen Mary

 Its that special time of year again.  Clothing companies head west to Las Vegas for Magic and Project.  Gigantic shows where little and big fashion brands alike get to show off their wears.  It is also the time of year where I travel to Inspiration one more time to meet up with all the brethren and sistren that make up the crazy world of vintage dealers, vintage designers, fashion brand owners, collaborators and store owners.  Where else will you meet designers for Levis, Woolrich, and the biggest brands in the world, hanging out with surfers and photographers.
 Inspiration is the brainchild of Rin Tanaka.  Rin spent years networking with the best vintage collectors on the planet in England, Canada, Japan and the U.S.A. photographing their wears and publishing some of the finest books on the topic.  His genius was to organize Inspiration, a culture jam where designers, vintage dealers, musicians, surfers, shoppers, gurus, and the like can all meet up hang out and exchange ideas.  My brand Himel Brothers will be there, so will vintage king Larry Heller, Zip Stevenson of Hollywood Trading Co., my good friend Eric Schrader of Junkyardjeans. As well I will be travelling with Brett Viberg of Viberg Boots, and schmoozing with old and new friends alike.  The list goes on and on but the
 best way to see who is showing there is to go to Rin's website and look at the ship map.  Never mind the ship itself is absolutely beautiful!!!!  So come on down and check out the show and jump over to the website at Inspiration 2012 and check out the show.   Ultimately if you are interested in buying or seeing some of the most innovative designs or rarest vintage on the planet this is the place to be!!!!! I will post ...post show for those of you who cannot make it down and offer an insiders view! Check out the newest coolest magazine launching at the show.....Clutch Magazine which will feature Himel Brothers amongst other fantastic brands!!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

FRENCH CANCAN: Brother can you spare a dime (part 2)

FRENCH CANCAN: Brother can you spare a dime (part 2): Hobo nickels… The altering of coins dates to the 18th century or earlier. Beginning in the 1750s, the most common form of coin alteratio...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wabi Sabi: Why Vintage is Revered in Japan

 As many of my readers know I have recently opened my own leather manufacturing and bespoke jacket business Himel Brothers Leather .  I have spent more years buying and selling vintage clothing then I can remember.  I am only now starting to piece together the real cumulative knowledge and memories from my years of buying and selling into a cohesive understanding of why my work was important.

 Recently a friend attended a conference and course on the Japanese way of Wabi Sabi.  Wabi Sabi as stated in the link is a way of understanding aesthetics in the world.  Wabi Sabi views objects in the world as imperfect, transient and in a constant state of decay.  The real core of the aesthetic is the way in which objects come into the world simply and modestly, and then decay and decompose and their beauty lies in their process of decay.

 Now I am not an expert on the study of Wabi Sabi but I have been inadvertently studying it for years.  Wabi Sabi looks at the imperfection of creation. Where limitations of materials and design lead to decay and repair and age.  The value of the design is also in the decay and transcendence of objects into dust, which often conveys a sense of loss and longing and nostalgia.  I never realized this aesthetic ideal is the very crux of why vintage clothing is so revered in Japanese culture.  Longing of a lost past, the craftsmanship of solid organic materials and simple human designs that over time show their age and beauty and become art objects of the sublime.