Thursday, September 29, 2011

Henriques & Løvengreen

Sometimes you hear the phrase, they don't make 'em like this anymore. Actually a rather tiresome phrase, however there is some truth to it sometimes - or probably quite often.

In the case of this henley - by a now long-gone company called Henriques & Løvengreen - it is true. It is a product so well-made, that it becomes almost a piece of industrial art.

This type of henley was quite common among working men. But I have found other examples of it, and none of them has been as nice and as well-made as this one. It is made of a wool-cotton blend, that has been rather tightly woven on loopwheel machines - hence no side seam. The fabric offers very little stretch, which you might expect and it feels like the reverse has been combed for softness. The colour is so amazing with the melange and irregularities in the weave. 
I'm guessing that this is from the 30s to 50s, but I can't be entirely sure. If somebody knows, please tell me.

As you can see, there is some discolouration from storage. Other than that it is pristine, deadstock condition. I'm sure that the discolouration will go away if properly washed or dry cleaned.

The difference in knit on the cuffs is a great detail.

The insert in the pit is a typical detail of undergarments from back in the day.

Flawless construction and execution

This tag is so great

The stitching is perfect

All edges have been covered in this grosgrain-ish fabric

There is even a satin backing to reinforce the buttonholes and insure, that they keep their shape

In case you hadn't noticed the buttons are genuine mother of pearl buttons

Now this post wouldn't be anything without the video, that I found. The video shows the production at the Henriques&Løvengreen factory and it was made in 1910.

I can't embed it, but you can watch it here - remember to go Full screen.

One Month of Denim - Day 29

One Month of Denim is coming to an end. I was thinking about writing about the big three - Levi's, Wrangler and Lee, but you probably already know a lot about them, and if you don't it is fairly easy finding some trustworthy information elsewhere. Furthermore I figured giving you some Danish denim history might expand your horizon a bit.

Today's post may bear a resemblance to yesterday's post, however I figured it would still be of some interest. This FE Engel jacket I found recently. It is probably from the 50's or the 60's like the other jacket, but this is probably more recent. In case you are wondering, this jacket is slightly too small for me, so I'm sending off to a new, good friend of mine, who I think will appreciate it.

F. Engel was founded by Carl J. Engel Senior in 1927 in the Southern part of Denmark. Today the business is still family owned, however production has moved to Lithuania, just like it is the case with a lot of Danish makers.

Back in the days everything was cut and sewn in Denmark, often using what is known as "Bull Denim" from Erwin Mills in the US. For your information; Erwin Mills were the first to use Sanforisation, as mentioned in a previous post. Bull Denim is a rather heavy denim weave with the typical twill construction, except it is later piece dyed.
I don't think F. Engel continued using denim from Erwin Mills, I suspect, that they - along with other workwear makers - started using denim, that was woven locally on Grenaa Damvæveri, which closed it doors 10 years ago.

On to the jacket.

The construction is pretty basic. Short jacet with two front pockets.

Big front pockets with brass snap buttons. The pockets are internally reinforced.

As you can see all seams are felled and triple stitched. The two top buttons are snap buttons, whereas the rest are regular buttons.

Selvage runs down the placket and the buttons are hidden. Pretty crude construction.

Concealed button.

The waist is elasticized, which gives a more modern and in my opinion a better fit.

The denim is has a purple hue or cast.

Furthermore it is quite hairy and slubby, which is a sign of using a cotton with a short stable length. This is normally a sign of a poor quality, but it ads to the character in my opinion. Purists are sometimes going for this look - For instance Roy Slaper made a pair of contest jeans for Superfuture, which was made of a special fabric from Cone Mills, that was very hairy and slubby.

It even has some mill flaws, which again ads to the character.

The American inspiration becomes quite obvious, when you see, that the snaps are made by Scovill, which also supplied many of the big American jeans and workwear companies - including Levi's.

The tag is quite cute. You don't see anything like that anymore.

"When Harris Tweed Isn’t" by James Taylor

There are many pleasures associated with buying vintage clothing. There’s thrill of the hunt as you enter a new thrift store or trade show, wondering what treasures (if any) await among the musty drabness, the tingle of excitement when a ‘phone call or email comes in from someone who knows I collect vintage clothing, asking if I’d like to look at the stuff Grandad left in his attic before it heads off to the thrift store or landfill. There’s the pleasure in finding a long-unloved tweed overcoat, and spending time making the minor repairs to bring it back to use, keeping someone warm. And there’s the speculative pleasure involved in wondering how something got where it did—I still have no idea how that mint-condition chocolate-brown Poole topcoat ended up in the back of a Church thrift store in small town Ohio. And even if something is beyond rescue—a much-stained 1960s sports jacket in bleeding Madras, or a moth-eaten dinner jacket, custom made in 1956—there’s still the simple pleasure of imagining what events these clothes might have been worn at, and what manner of man had them made.
And these speculative and avaricious pleasures are joined by another type of pleasure entirely—the pleasure of the education that a mysterious label can sometimes bring.
In my own case this started with the label on a Harris tweed jacket. If you’re reading this blog you’ll probably be familiar with both Harris tweed and its classic trademark “Orb” emblem, which looks like this:

But in one jacket I found the label looked like this:

This was weird. This was clearly marked as Harris tweed, marked as handwoven, and came from the right area of Scotland. But it wasn’t an Orb. It was a Shield. And the name of the company behind the trademark was weird, too—The Independent Harris Tweed Producers, not the Harris Tweed Authority.
What’s going on? Is this Harris Tweed, or not?

A hint to the answer came from a 1958 edition of The Glasgow Heraldwhich reported that a newly-formed company, The Independent Harris Tweed Producers, were challenging the Harris Tweed Authority’s monopoly on calling their cloth Harris tweed. Why? Because there was a strong demand for Harris tweed in the American market, and the IHTP wanted in. And, yes, you can guess what was driving the demand then—not just post-war American prosperity, but the increasingly popular (then as now) Ivy League look, in which Harris tweed was a mainstay!
There were differences between the Shield tweed of the IHTP and the orb tweed of the HTA. The latter was only from Scottish wool, while the newcomers used wool from elsewhere the latter was spun, dyed, and finished in the Outer Hebrides only, whereas the newcomers would spin, finish, and dye anywhere in Scotland, and the Orb tweed was to be spun in crofters’ own homes, whereas the Shield tweed could be factory-made.
So, what happened? Lawsuits, filed by both sides--in 1961 by the Shields and 1962 by the Orbs. (Clearly, America was influencing more than just tweed production!)

And what happened? Well, take a look around your closet—do you see any Shield labels there, and, if you do, are they recent? The case went to the Edinburgh High Court, and was decided against the Shield faction, with Lord Hunter holding that for a cloth to be Harris Tweed it had to conform to the definition of the Board of Trade, namely that for a cloth to be Harris Tweed it must be  “a tweed, hand spun, hand woven and finished by hand in the Outer Hebrides, with ‘Made in Harris’ or ‘Made in Lewis’ or ‘Made in Uist’ etc. added as appropriate’.” The Shields’ tweed didn’t meet this definition, and so was not Harris Tweed….. And hence no more Shield Harris Tweed labels would legally be produced.

So, if, while searching through vintage tweeds, you find something labeled Harris tweed with a Shield label, rather than an Orb, you’ve found a rare relic of a almost-forgotten but very heated dispute concerning the real nature of this canonical fabric.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes Harris Tweed isn’t! 

On the Subject of Guest Posts

I wasn't quite sure, if I was supposed to write anything about the upcoming guest post, but I decided to do so. Mostly because this is another personal highlight for me and for After the Denim. 

Some of you may know James Taylor by the name of Tweedydon a mainstay of both Styleforum and Askandyaboutclohtes. I know him by the name of James because I have had to send so many thank you notes to him for helping me ordering stuff in the US. He has been so friendly, kind and helpful, that I felt like an ass, when I approached him, asking if he would do some blogging for me. I knew, I was adding to the endless list of favours, I already owed him. 
When I asked him, he immediately caught the Raymond Carver reference, and candidly suggested that he could write a post called "What We Talk About, When We Talk About Tweed", which I took as a yes. I'm still hoping he'll do that post. He didn't do it as his first however. Instead he wrote a great post called "When Harris Tweed Isn't", which I'm sure a lot of you will enjoy. What James doesn't know about Harris Tweed and tweed in general isn't worth knowing. Besides that I consider him an expert on trad style, clothing history, philosophy and I'm sure, he has thousands of other talents. Some of these talents will hopefully be exposed in coming posts by Tweedydon.

To me this is the pinnacle of After the Denim. This is what I imagined, it could be. My hope is still, that people with genuine passion, interest and knowledge will chip in an occasionally write a post about something of their own choice in order to ad to the diversity of the subjects here.

Therefore I would once again like to encourage people to contact me if they want to write for After the Denim.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Month of Denim - Day 28

Danish denim history is hardly worth mentioning, if you want 5 pocket jeans. But if you are into workwear history, I think Danish denim history is very interesting.  Two of the biggest makers of workwear in Denmark, F Engel and Kansas, were both founded by men, who had been to the US and seen how well denim served the labourers.

Over the years I have found several interesting workwear-related denim garments in thrift stores in Denmark. I have passed on many and many I have passed on to friends, but I have never found anything for myself.

It's not unlikely, that Kansas will be covered at some other point, if I find something interesting from them and tomorrow I'll probably also be writing about Danish denim history - showcasing denim workwear from F. Engel. But today we will be looking at a denim coat from EK, that I found and passed on to my good friend Rasmus, who both contributes with a lot of photos for AtD and occasionally writes a post.

Now on to the jacket.

As you see the model is a pretty standard chore coat, however the bottom of the front pockets are lined. If I were to determine the age of it, I would be guessing, that it is from the 50's or the 60's. Other than that I'm guessing that it was made in Denmark, using fabric that was also woven in Denmark in the mills of Grenaa Dampvæveri, which closed its doors 10 years ago. I have no information on the company EK.

With nice brass buttons and keyhole buttonholes.

The denim is selvage (it runs down both plackets) and it is quite slubby or it has some irregularities. The cast is greyish light blue. As you can see all seams are felled and triple stitched. Lastly it has been hemmed using chainstitch.

Notice the selvage detail on the locker loop. 

The pockets have all been bartacked with a contrasting red thread and this particular jacket has a very nicely made embroidery that says BD

But what really makes this jacket jacket stand out and makes it very special, is the interfacing or backing of the embroidery. This is made by old news papers or what I'm assuming is news paper. You are able to make out actual words on the backing, which is really funny. I have never seen embroidery made like this. In order to fully appreciate this jacket, you have to know about this great, little feature. As you know, God is in the detail.

If you like workwear, I can't recommend Mono's Workwear magazines/books enough. Although all text is in Japanese, you can just browse the wonderful images.

More importantly if you have any stories, info or details on the Danish garment industry, please do share them with me - either in the comment section or via e-mail.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Month of Denim - Day 27

One the subject of wearing and thus fading jeans I would like to put in my tuppence worth.

There are many rules and equally many misconceptions to wearing - and washing - your raw denim the right way. Just thinking about doing something the right way, rubs me the wrong way. By that I mean, that no one should tell you, how you wear your jeans. 
If you feel uncomfortable wearing your for six months straight without washing them, then that is not the right thing for you. If you on the other hand enjoy doing so, and every now and then go a couple of years without washing your jeans, then I salute you too.

I know this may sound a bit incoherent, and it is. I know. But while I was doing what little research I have done for "One Month of Denim", I came across a lot of people, who were telling other people, how they were supposed to wear their jeans. That is just wrong to me. So now I'm telling you how to wear your jeans: The way that suits you. Be that washing your jeans 7 times a week, then that is your way, and your jeans will fade according to your lifestyle.
That brings me to, why I find jeans so damn incredible. They become a screening of your way of living. They become a reflection of your daily life. They become second skin.

Besides these hollistic bogus statements I just came up with, I would like to address some things or rather make some suggestions to wearing raw denim. As always in no particular order.

1. Always wash your denim inside out in order to avoid weird vertical white lines

2. If you are wearing shrink-to-fit denim, then wash/soak your jeans once or twice before wearing them

3. If you are wearing sanforized denim you may also want to soak your jeans before wearing them in order to remove some starch

4. In the summer it is fun to wash your jeans in the ocean and letting them dry in the sand and sun - experiment with your jeans

5. Mineworkers and cowboys didn't wait six months before they washed their jeans. They washed them, when they could or when they needed washing

6. Wearing your jeans daily for at least 6 months before washing, will give you high contrast fades, that Superfuture members will give you plus rep for

7. Wearing you jeans daily and washing them regularly will give you more vintage-like fades

8. If you don't remove the starch from the rigid fabric by rinsing, washing or soaking, your jeans will be more prone to crotch blows, due to abrasion of the rigid cotton fibres

9. Do what you feel like, they are your jeans

10. Do what feels right. If not they won't be your jeans.

Sorry no pics in this days post.

Ebay Find - Russell Moccasin Memorabilia

If you like Russell Moccasin of Berlin Wisconsin as much as I do, you are going to enjoy seeing this piece of memorabilia.

If you don't know about Russell Moccasin, I suggest you do some Google search on your own for now. Or else wait patiently until I find the time to do a piece on them.

Anyways, check out the Russell Moc dog boots

Monday, September 26, 2011


I had the pleasure of meeting an American exchange student some years back, who talked about how he went "shrooming" in the mountains of Colorado. I told him, that I liked to go shrooming too. With my mom and dad even. As the talk progressed and when he offered me more than a beer and a smoke (I quit that a long time ago FYI), I quickly figured, that I was sure as hell not checking Urban Dictionary often enough. 

Fast forward some years I still like to go shrooming with my mom and dad, so this weekend when I paid them a visit, I went mushroom hunting. This time I did so with my dad and my girlfriend, who managed to find a great spot, that was literally filled with some of the biggest chanterelles, I had ever seen. 

I did bring my camera in hopes of taking some lovely pictures of the woods and of our harvest, but I had forgotten to charge the battery, hence the poor iPhone pictures. Anyways, they are testament of some very fond memories of a day well-spent, so I don't mind and I hope you don't either. 

For a long time out basket looked like this. Some nice chanterelles and a few other sorts, that I don't know the English name for.

My girlfriend is wearing a pair of Tretorn sneakers. They were made on a military contract for the Danish Civil Defence in the 1980's. They are so great. Unfortuntately they were found deadstock and chances of finding another pair is probably quite slim.

But then we found a really great spot and the basket quickly filled with chanterelles

In case you are wondering, I'm wearing an ECWCS Gen II Gore-Tex parka in Woodland camo. I would have liked it an a different camo pattern, but I got it at a great price. Other than that it is an extremely functional and wearable garment. I can't recommend it too highly. If you are trying to find one for yourself, please remember to go down one size, as they fit quite roomy. If there is some interest, I'll gladly do a post on it at some point. Other than that I'm wearing a Giman shirt, William Lockie lambswool knit, LVC 1955 501 jeans, and Red Wing chukkas. As always, very boring.

Yes, Ladies and gentelman, that is an original Opinel knife - if that is worth mentioning. It is perfect for picking mushrooms. Other than that they are made in France and they are relatively cheap. Not the best knife you'll ever hold, but it's a fun one to have. 

The woods are filled with ripe mushrooms at the moment, that are ready to be picked. They are a product of the horrible summer of low temperatures and the loads of rain, we had here in Denmark. If you don't know anything about picking mushrooms, find someone who does and tag along. Or just go for the chanterelles, they are quite easy to identify. 

One Month of Denim - Day 26

These are the hands of a passionate man

We are getting closer and closer to the end of this marathon. I'm almost out of things, that I want to write about, but I think I'll make it. Then we will take a long break from denim, unless something amazing is uncovered in the deserts of Arizona or something sensational happens.

That sensational thing happening could be coming from the English brand Tender Co. and I would be foolish to not include Tender in a write up on denim - especially on modern denim -, as I see this brand as one of the most innovative.

So what makes Tender more innovative than others or rather should I say, what makes Tender so great? That might seem like a fairly easy question to answer, but there are many things that you need to include in order to answer that question fully.

This list might give some perspective to why Tender is so great. In no particular order of course.

1. William Kroll seems like friendliest man alive. Probably also one of the most passionate and creative.

2. Everything is cut a sewn in England using small factories and artisans - you can take this literally

3. The use of natural dyes like woad dye (I type of indigo dye), logwood and weld

4. The use of full grain leather that has been oak tanned in England by an amazing tannery called JF Baker - (I have used this leather myself and I have to say it is the best belt leather, I have used)

5. The overly excessive use of small, well-thought details - for instance the "snob's thumb pocket"

6. Not necessarily making slim, basic 5 pocket jeans a la the New Standard

7. Custom made (in England) wax cast solid brass buttons

8. Custom made (in England) wax cast belt buckles of very original designs.

9. Tender has a piece of soap in their assortment

10. Small, well curated collection - that grows organically

11. Collaboration with Hickorees Hard Goods in New York - Don't you love this?

12. Loopwheeled t-shirts with print or hand dyed

13. The level of almost full disclosure through the Tender thread on Superfuture. Definitely worth a couple of hours of browsing due to the pictorials posted by William himself

14. Ingenious construction of the garments - bias cut and one-piece cut

15. The introduction of sheepskin mittens in the collection and small runs of denim aprons

16. Beautiful print illustrations done by an old artist named Dorrit Dekk

17. For having a wall clock as a prime feature on the website

18. You can ask him anything in the Superfuture thread, and he will probably provide answers for more than you asked

19. Do you need more reasons? Really?

20. If you need more, watch this film

I wouldn't mind a pair of these, although my taste is probably a bit too conventional (boring) to pull them off on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Horween American Football Leather

Well, sort of... And then not quite

I just purchased some new leather and I have been wanting to show you pictures of it. Unfortunately the weather hasn't been friendly lately, so it has been impossible to take some pictures in good, natural lightning.

The leather was bought from a very friendly man in the US, who got the leather from his job. Now this isn't the regular football leather, that the American tannery Horween supplies to the likes of Wilson (check this video out), but it was specially tanned by Horween, according to this man. Knowing the relationship between Horween and the company, that he worked for, I do believe him.

Like I said, the leather was specially tanned for a very special project. Somebody got the idea that if the grain of the leather was inverted, then the ball would float better. Just like it is the case with the golf ball and its dimples. So instead of a convex grain, the grain was concave. The idea was patented - along with a lot of other things - but when the final project was realized, nobody seemed to care. They were all pretty satisfied with the regular football. This meant that the whole project was scrapped pretty quickly and instead the man, I finally bought the leather from, took it home with the intention of making leather aprons, but that didn't work out either.

I should probably have thought twice about buying two large hides of a leather, which were used in not only one, but two failed projects. But I loved the story and I love the colour and the grain of the leather. It is a bovine leather, but the grain texture is unlike anything I have ever seen. It could give the impression of an exotic leather, or possibly fish or bird skin. But it isn't and I have to say that the leather feels very hard wearing, although it is slightly thinner than the leather I normally work with.

If you have any good ideas to, what this leather can or should be turned into - not footballs, please - then please share your ideas in the comment section or send me and e-mail, I would love to hear from you.