Friday, October 28, 2011

Recently Purchased - Solmate Socks

It seems a bit boring, but besides one rather big purchase, which I have hinted, but fully disclosed, I'm not really buying clothing at the moment, which is a rather poor foundation for a blog, that mainly evolves around the subject of clothing and style.

But today I made a clothing related purchase, although it was only a pair of socks, but not any pair of socks. These socks are made of recycled cotton yarns (mainly from t-shirts) and made in the US (Vermont to be exact) by a company called Solmate. The concept is pretty straight forward and it is epitomized in their slogan "Life's too short for matching socks", which means every pair has a mismatching pattern.

I wasn't actually going to buy socks, as I really hate wearing them in a way. But the colours are great for fall and I need to add some action to my boring wardrobe.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stanley & Sons - Video

A guy with so many great machines, tools, skill, eye for detail and functional design is just bound to be nice, friendly and sympathetic.

Chris Grodzki of Stanley & Sons is a genious and I want that kick press!

Watch the video

Messenger Bag by Hollows

This post needed to be written straight away. I was actually going to write a post on backpacks - yes I have a few more options, and not on messenger bags, as I'm now doing. And I was actually not going to write about modern leather craftsmen as a subject right now, as I already have started so many new subjects like pens, knives and fabrics. I should probably complete some of them before doing other things. But when I saw this bag from one of the most promising leather craftsmen, then I couldn't do anything but to ask permission to showcase it here.

The bag I'm referring to looks like this. Please file this under the category of people doing things right!

The handsome guy with the beard wearing the bag is actually also the maker. His name is Nicholas Hollows, but he usually goes by the name of Hollows. This is also the name of his leather accessories brand. Hollows has proven to be one of the most talented modern leather craftsmen around. He seems to be doing this for a living at the moment, so it makes sense, that he is so good.

I asked him about the bag and it is totally handmade and when I say handmade, I really mean it. Meaning it is cut by hand and every stitch is done by hand one at a time. This took around 40hours to do. 
It is constructed of a oil-tanned leather with a contrasting strap and closure, which is made of a natural vegetable tanned leather. The hardware is all brass and the thread is a waxed nylon thread. Personally I would have used a linen thread, but Hollows decided on the nylon thread for strength.
The construction details are also very nice. The bottom is double layered. There is a compartment on the inside for a laptop and the edges on the main compartment are rolled.

All I can say is that, I can't wait to have the time to finally make a bag myself. It has been a dream of mine for a long time, but everytime I start to think about it, I feel like having an anxiety attack. This isn't about me. It's about Hollows, his crafts and the fact, that I seriously hope, that he got paid, what this bag is worth.

If you haven't seen his work for Archival Clothing, I recommend you do so, right away. Here.

Fabric Knowledge - Ventile

colourswatch of available Ventile colours
I figured, that doing some small features on some very iconic fabrics, would help generate some knowledge and create an appreciation of good fabrics and well-made clothing.

The first fabric I would like to write about is Ventile.

The fabric Ventile was developed by Scientists at the Shirley Institute during the Second World War. But the idea was spawned in the 30's, when the British government feared, that there would be a shortage of flax, which was used for fire hoses among other things. So they decided to find a way to use cotton instead and that is how they invented Ventile.

Ventile is a hard wearing all cotton fabric, that is made of tightly woven long staple cotton fibres. Ventile is known to be both waterproof and windproof - and it's not on account of the breathability. The waterproofness is created because the cotton fibres expand when they become wet making no room for the water to penetrate. So Ventile is not waterproofed through a coating of some kind of wax, membrane or other coating, which is also why it never looses its waterproof abilities with wear.
Ventile is a favourite amongst hunters and naturalists because it is a very silent material. It produces no noise because it being all cotton. This is quite a contrast compared to synthetic and membrane fabrics like Gore-Tex, which can feel like walking around with Einstürzende Neubauten in the shape of a jacket. Besides the silent quality it is very tear-resistant and it doesn't catch fire easily. 

There are three grades of Ventile and they are intended for some rather specific uses. Ventile has generally been used in many situations throughout history. It has a long history in the military, on polar expeditions and it was used in the first successful climbs of both Annapurna and Everest. Unfortunately it is only made in one specific mill in the UK called Talbot Weaving, hence making the availability sparse and the price very high.

I have seen some beautiful jackets in Ventile from Beaver of Bolton (a lesser known brilliant English maker of country clothing),  clothes by Wings+Horns and Outlier, but I think some of the best have been made by Nigel Cabourn - the master of outerwear. This is of course mostly in a fashion context. I didn't include any actual military jackets, though I know the RAF smock is very appreciated.

Ventile and all kinds of goodness - Coyote fur trim,  goosedown filling, Riri zipper, and sheepskin lining

Harris Tweed with Ventile patches

In the Yuketen x Cabourn collaboration. Classic Yuketen Hunting boot (which are also deadly silent on concrete btw) with Ventile accents

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Viberg Ripple Sole Oxford

I've been advocating for Superdenim before, and I'll probably be doing it again, as they are doing very, very well. At the moment they are starying a bit off the path, that they followed to begin with, which is good in a way, but I just never hope, that they stop carrying hard-to-find Japanese brands like The Real McCoy's.

I have also praised the Oxford model from Viberg before. It's beautiful, extremely well-made and very wearable.

So when I saw, that Superdenim had just released 4 new Oxfords, I got pretty excited. Each and everyone of them could easily become a wardrobe stable with me and m, however the price might just prove to be a stumbling block.

My favourite is - of course - the one with the ripple sole (by Vibram), which is quite in mode at the moment, but very few people realize, that it dates back to the 50's and was used in the US army. The Ripple Sole was also used on some nice Viberg make-ups for both Inventory and Leffot. 
Other than the sole it features some very nice details such as the brass eyelets on the rough out suede and the laces are some of the nicest ever.

I have some personal information about the Viberg Oxford, that I would really like to share, however this will happen sometime next week..

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Quest for the Ultimate Winter Coat - Various

I have neglected writing about winter coats or jackets for some time. And I'm not even sure, I'm going to write much more about it. Mostly because I have so many jackets, so I don't spend much time looking for anything for myself. Besides that relaunched Made in USA Sierra Designs parkas of course, that seems to be popping up everywhere at the moment. I feel quite strongely about them, as I have been waiting for them for years! And I think, I'll keep waiting, untill I can get one with a woolen Pendleton lining.

But if you need inspiration for jackets, then please take a look at this Flickr account, that belongs to a user, who is called Nicolas Ticklish. He seems to have one amazing collection of mostly parkas of all sorts. Very inspiring, but it also makes you wonder, does he really need that many jackets? And the answer is, I guess he does.

Here are a couple of outtakes (incidentally all taken from page 1), but you should really look for yourself. If you find anything you like, and want a second opionion, just ask away.

Vintage mountain parka from now defunct Banana Equipment - one of the American hiking brands of 1970s

Military smock - apparantly made of the legendary functional fabric, Ventile.

Recent parka by Woolrich Woolen Mills. Made in the US.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Archival Clothing - Webbing Belt

The blog Archival Clothing is a dear favourite of mine and I promise, that they will be featured a lot more here in the times to come. I came to think of them today because I was putting on an old, cherised belt made by J.M Davidson, which is an O-ring belt made of a sort of hard nylon webbing. A bit too flimsy for my taste nowadays.

Archival Clothing has made their version of a classic webbing belt using cotton webbing from the UK, leather from Horween (Chromexcel, of course) in the US and finally solid brass O-rings, that were also sourced in the UK. The belt was assembled in Oregon in the US, where Archival Clothing also reside (except for one of them, who recently left for NY). The belt also features Archival Clothing's signature red bartacking.

If you have ever had anything made of solid brass, you know, that the brass will tarnish and the webbing will feel hard at first, but it will also soften. However it will probably never feel flimsy.

The best part about the belt is probably the price - just around $25,- I would definitely be ordering one, if it wasn't because I have been thinking about making such a belt myself. I just need to get around to doing it. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Out of Town - Thrifting

When I go somewhere new. Somewhere I've never been before. The first thing I do is hit the thrift stores. Over the years I have gotten to know, exactly where to find them. I can almost sense it. I can smell it. I hope you all do know, I'm kidding.
I always just find one, the first, and ask all the nice, old ladies to help me find the next and that leads me in the right direction of the third, until there are no one left.

Today was OK. I didn't find much, but at least I found some stoneware, which I haven't found in a very long time! I have a rather big collection of stoneware and ceramics, that I have gathered over the years. I mostly collect from Danish makers, but I wouldn't mind adding some Heath Ceramics as well. Most of the pieces I have collected are probably worthless from a professional point of view, but they are quite valuable to me.

I don't know the maker of this one, as I can't make out the signature. All I can say, is that it is well-made and the person, that did it, has a great sense of tactility and colour. 
The pictures were taken at night time with what little artificial lighting I could gather for this shoot. I just wanted to document my finds, so please disregard the poor quality.

Have I mentioned, that I collect zippers as well? I don't know if collect is the right word, as I intend to use them at some point for wallets, purses, bags or what that might require a zipper. Today I found three from Riri, and incidentally they were all navy blue, albeit different sizes. Riri zippers are the best zippers in the world. Period.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Otter Messer - Ankermesser

I'm spending some time in the Southern part of Denmark on vacation. I'm hoping to do some reading, make some drawings of some future designs and maybe finally find the right snaps fasteners, which I have been looking for since I can't remember when. Maybe that is an unrealistic wish, but one can dream. But I will surely get some much needed sleep, do some cooking and hopefully I'll also get to do some blogging. Since I'm located so close to the German border right now, I figured, that I could write a post on a German-made piece of art.

At the moment my favourite pocket knife is this little gem from the German company Otter Messer, which is based in Solingen. The company has been around since the 1887 and they are still being made in Germany.

What initially caught my interest was the beautiful brass-anchor inlay, so I'll gladly admit, that it was an aesthetic decision to begin with. I liked the nautical reference and I figured, that this would have been a knife, that my grandfather, who was a sailor, would have liked. When I received the knife, I was surprised, how sharp and generally well-made this knife is. Especially if you consider the price. I think this knife represents true value for money. You won't be getting a lot of different tools in your knife - that you'll probably never use anyways- however you'll get a very sharp knife, that will take a beating. And may I just add, that the looks will improve with use? The brass rivets and inlay will tarnish and so will the carbon steel blade.

This post wouldn't be complete without a small clip, that shows how the Ankermesser (German for Anchor Knife) is made, now would it?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Toro y Moi

I figured, that ATD could do with some more music recommendations. The thing is, I also just feel like writing really short posts, which is why I should probably start using Twitter or Tumblr...

I first came across Toro y Moi, when the first album, "Causers of This" was released. I figured, that I wouldn't like it because it was very associated with the chill-wave scene, but I got to listening and I really enjoyed that album. I liked it very much. When his second album "Underneath the Pine" came out, that like-like became love. After watching some of the Toro y Moi videoes on Youtube, I also got the feeling, that Chazwick Bundick, who is the brain behind Toro y Moi, is a very friendly guy. 

So if you like it, go buy the music in your favourite record store or buy it online. And if you want to recommend some music to me, then please do so. I'm always on the hunt for good music.

Filson Rucksack

Please excuse my absence. I know, that some of you have come to expect a post a day or even more, and I still strive to continue doing so, however this is something I do in my spare time and at the moment I haven't had any time to spare. Unfortunately the time hasn't been spent in the basement doing something creative, nor have I been attending a lot of social events, I have been stuck at school with different projects.

So actually I just decided to do a really quick post on another backpack alternative, but this one is on a very obvious one, so I do not have to write a novel.
I like Filson and I like Filson a lot. I do own quite a lot of Filson. And I have to say, that if I were to buy some outerwear right now, I would be looking at their selection. The bags I have from Filson have all held up very nicely, and I think, they'll be around for another couple of years or decades.

The Filson Rucksack is mainstay in their very rugged, yet classic assortment of bags. It is constructed of a sturdy 22oz cotton twill, that has been treated with oils and waxes for water repellancy. As with most Filson bags this bag also features a heavy duty solid brass zipper (YKK, for the connoisseur), and of course their nice American bridle leather is also used on this pack. I say American Bridle because there is a difference between English Bridle leather and American bridle leather, but I won't be going into that topic now.
The use of such beefy, but of course also durable, materials make this bag quite heavy to carry, which of course is a downside to many people. However the quality is "bombproff", as one reviewer noted.

Did I mention, that this rucksack is made in the US? Well, it is.

If I were looking for a bag for travelling, I would probably be buying the Filson Duffle in medium or large. But I could probably also be talked into getting one from JW. Hulme or a vintage Gokey...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zebra F-701 Pen

I like to carry stuff around, that you might not need, but it feels good carrying it around. I try to always have a pocket knife on me at all times, which is why I have several pocket knives (but I could easily need more), although I rarely use them. But when there is a situation, when the knife is needed, the joy is just so great.

I also like to carry a pen with me, which of course means I have a number of different pens, that I like. So I figured, that I could write a bit about my everyday carry. However at this point I plan on doing so one step at the time.

Let's talk about pens. One of my all-time favourite pens is the Zebra F-701. The design is just so perfect with the stainless steel construction and knurled top. It feels good in your hand, when you write with it. In my experience it works every time and it tends to go a long way on each refill. My favourite thing about the 701 must be, that it isn't very "clicky". It has a soft, rather poetic click, unlike the Jotter's hard click - which is another favourite by the way.

Oh, and I almost forgot the best part. It is cheap - around $10,-

Altana Works - Teardrop

I'm trying to make up my mind on, which backpack I'm going to buy. I need something, that I can take with me on small trips, as well as carry a day's worth of school books. I have started feeling some shoulder fatigue because of messenger and tote bags, so I figured, that a backpack would be a good investment. Therefore I'm dragging you through my options, so I can make up my own mind.

I have covered some options, but there are still some to go. Today I want to cover Altadena Works, which was heavily featured some time ago, but it has been a while since we last heard from them. This doesn't change the fact, that their version of a daypack is a damn fine pack.

Altadena Works has a very nice small assortment of goods, but they all have one thing in common - they look really good! Take for instance their hold-all or market tote, which is made of Horween's Chromexcel leather - which is a very good oil-pull-up. Their Rucksack looks very sturdy and well-made, and the all black profile is actually rather refreshing, albeit I would never go all black myself. Although I know a lot of guys, who would. The all black option is a rather nice contrast to many other makers, who are also influenced by the outdoor equipment from the 1970's, the difference is, that Altadena isn't making reproductions. They were merely inspired.

I like their 801 Teardrop backpack the best. This bag is constructed of water-repellent cotton duck and leather. The nylon webbing is mil-spec, the hardware is made of metal and heavy zippers have leather pulls. Another great old-school detail is the wool felt, that is sandwiched in between two layers of "seat belt" webbing for extra comfort when carrying the bag.

Facebook Fan Page

I know most of you use Facebook. Almost all of us do nowadays, although we might not care to admit it. This is why I figured, that After the Denim needed a fan page, after a piece of advice from a good friend. 
Though ATD might not have many fans at the moment, I'm hoping, that there will be more in the future. And I would love to put a face on some of the visitors or even fans (I feel, that fan is such a strong word, but I used it in lack of a better word), so I figured, let's give it a go. 

So feel free to "Like" the page right HERE and show your support

Best regards 

//Simon Tuntelder

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Western Mountaineering Flash Vest

After a couple of odd days of sunshine it has now become evident, which way the weather is heading. It's getting colder and mentally you are starting to prepare for the winter. I know, that some of the readers may come from countries with a warmer climate and I envy you.

I have begun looking for options for this winter. I already have too many jackets, so I'm not actively looking for - at least I'm not admitting it. 

Sometimes I want to add just a layer of extra, cosy warmth. Or add a extra layer of warmth underneath a Harris Tweed blazer, like I have seen some Japanese men do it.

This lead me to the Western Mountaineering Flash vest.

It is very lightweight, yet very well made. It weighs around a 100 grams and is filled with goose down. Other than that it comes in three wearable colourways black, brown and silver. And did I mention, it's made in Canada? Well, it is.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Factory Visit - Hansen Garments A/W 2011

A little over a week ago We visited Hansen Garments in one of their two HQ’s, which incidentally also doubles as their respective apartments. This visit was a culmination of more than a years worth of e-mail correspondence. Although we have managed to find the time to view their collection and meet them in person at previous appointments, this time we found the time to sit down and have talk. Like really talk. And we did so for hours.

It all began one, fine Sunday morning. I woke too late, but managed to meet AtD’s trusted photographer, Rasmus on time. We were both a bit tired, which led os to walking over to Hansen, as we wanted to appear somewhat presentable and get some fresh air. While we walked, we talked about Hansen and how the same information kept showing up about them. We were baffled, that no one had taken the time to write something original about one of the most original Danish - and even Scandinavian - brands in recent times. So we felt it was our duty to write a descent, original and in depth article about them. 
The fact that they have been so friendly and have sent personal invitations to every single event, they have held, may have made me slightly biased, but nevermind that.

I would also like to say in advance, that if you don’t like reading, then you may want to jump to the pictures straight away (We did an impromtu photoshoot, and I selected some pieces from the autumn/winter collection to showcase) . They are located at the bottom.

During the six or seven hours, that we spent with Hansen, a myriad of subjects were covered. Some were more jovial than others and some were strictly confidential. However I can tell you, that we have already agreed, that AtD will return for another interview, when the next collection hits the shops. This means, we will only be covering the collection, which is in stores now. Clever thinking, eh?

First some background knowledge. Hansen is a two-man operation by Åse Helena Hansen and Per Chrois. Åse does the designing, and Per does everything else. This of course isn’t entirely true, but there is a fun dynamic between the two and they seem to compliment each other very well.
Not only are they partners in Hansen, they are also a couple, when they aren’t working, which is apparantly, what they are doing most of the time. They decided to create this new menswear label, when they were both in between jobs. The idea was formed on a trip through Europe and they decided to go for it. Despite recession et all.

Åse had been designing for a Dansish jeanswear label and Per had been doing something in the creative media business. My description of Per’s job is so vague because the man has done so many different kinds of jobs, that you wouldn’t believe it. Before he started working on making Hansen a reality, he had never worked in fashion – or ever thought about stitch length and French seams, as he put it. But he explained everything by referring to his old job as a runner – I was used to solving problems and finding solutions. This is also what I do now.  
They don’t see the fact, that they are a couple as a hindrance in any way. Of course it has some difficulties, but at the same time they are equally committed and with reason they can spend every wake hour working on Hansen. They like to keep things in the family and among friends, which can be seen in their lookbooks, as they have used neighbours, friends and relatives, instead of using expensive models.

They aren’t only going against the stream in terms of making lookbooks and working on creating a brand. Åse’s approach to design is very different to, how others are doing it. She seems to have a non-existant interest in, what others are doing. For instance she didn’t know, what Our Legacy is, when some people compared their first collection to Our Legacy. The resemblance might be hard to find, but when people run out of words, they tend to draw parallels and pigeon hole things. 
Instead Åse talked about, how she was very inspired by old books and the collection of clothing at Tidens Samling. She is an avid photographer herself, and has always used photos as a source for inspiration, but never fashion magazines. Other than that she paints quite a lot, which can be seen in some of the artwork Hansen has put out. Lastly she mentioned an old book on national costumes – mostly women’s costumes and how it had inspired her to do menswear.
We also talked about the term “heritage” and how it has been misused for a long time. Hansen had the term heritage in their name to begin with to underline their Nordic roots, however they are now removing it in order to avoid the connotations, that comes with that term.

Books on national costumes and polar expeditions serve as inspiration
What drew my attention to Hansen in the first place was their desire to create a line of clothing, that was entirely made in Scandinavia. This has proven to be near impossible, if not completely impossible. This is why, most of their stuff is made elsewhere in Europe, but some is actually made in Scandinavia. For instance some traditional black wool fabric is made in Norway, some fabric is woven in Sweden, Elk hide was sourced in Finland and some things are knitted and sewn in Denmark. Other than that we discussed the hardships of meeting minimums, buying fabric from Japanese sources, finding the right factories to work with and why most Scandinavian factories, makers and artisans haven’t shown any interest in working together for some unknown reason.

We also discussed how to build a brand and how to find just the right retailers for the brand. It is essential, that everything is handled just the right way both in terms of partners, but mostly in terms of production. We talked about, how Hansen could possibly do very well in Japan, but Åse was reluctant to go there, before she was a 110% sure, that everything was perfect from A to Z. Other than that we talked about how the collection was gradually and organically growing and who they would like to be collaborating with in the future. They have already worked with many interesting people in Scandinavia and they hope to find others, as they grow.

Now for the fun part.

This coat is made of a Norwegian-made wool fabric, which is also used in the Norwegian National costume. It is similar to melton wool, however it isn't quite as thick. It has a lovely hand.
The embroidery is entirely handmade by an old lady, who lives near Copenhagen. They tried finding someone in Norway, as this kind of embroidery is typically Norse, however they found it hard to find someone with the required skills.
Other than that the construction, fit and details are top notch.

This may just be a wearable shirt, but it is well-fitting, well-made, filled with nice little details and the fabric is very nice. Who doesn't need a shirt like that?

This sweater doesn't look like much. However it is a masterpiece. The sweater is made of wool from the muskox, which is handpicked on Greenland, where you find a good population of muskox. The raw fibres are then spun in a very small mill in Denmark called Hjelholt and finally it is hand knitted - also in Denmark. This is probably the softest knit I have ever felt and I have felt some insanely soft, Scottish cashmere sweaters. The fibres are long, fluffy, soft and really expensive.

I immediately recognised this fabric as being similar to some old fabrics, that I have found. They knew, what I was referring to, and told me, that this is exactly why, they are working with Japanese mills. They make fabric, like we used to. The cut is long, which is very vintage like. Other than this you see some very nice details like different fabric on the reverse and some of the most beautiful cat-eye horn buttons ever.

These pants were made of some very nice worsted wool fabric. The fabric is deadstock and woven in England. It was purchased from a tailor shop in Copenhagen called Hvidberg, that had one roll of it. Again, very solid construction and beautiful details.

This vest is made of the same nice Norwegian wool fabric, as the coat was made of. Need I say it again? Horn buttons!

This cardigan is one example of the ongoing collaboration with Danish knitter, Ole Strange. The inspiration for this cardigan is the typical Norwegian pattern called Hardanger. This you normally see in the very recognisable Norwegian knitwear, although this is more minimalistic and subdued. As you can see the knit is quite complex.

This jacket looked liked a liner, I thought, but then again it also looks like some old, quilted workwear jackets. Albeit this is made of much nicer materials and may I please add, that these are the best horn buttons I have ever seen? They feature a small loop on the back, that is secured by a split. So great. 
This jacket would be great for layering.

This shirt has a nice casual feel due to the gauzy, double faced fabric (Made in Japan, of course). Other than that it features some nice leather buttons.

The highlight of the collection must be the anorak, which is a very useful piece, if you live in Scandinavia. The material is a very nice, heavy canvas material, that has been slightly coated. The nice kangaroo pouch, fishtail and metal buttons, make this anorak stand out. Very finely executed.

Lastly I would like to thank both Åse and Per for taking the time to see us. It was an amazing day spent in good company. Hopefully we’ll be able to build upon this good relationship in the future. Åse and Per were kind, warm, fun and welcoming people. A rare Nordic breed.

Words by Simon Tuntelder and photos by Rasmus Peter Vagn Jakobsen