Sunday, May 27, 2012

Want - Batten Sportswear Parka

With the summer rapidly approaching I find my woollen jackets and coats being a bit obsolete, therefore I find myself wanting a good mountain parka to complete the full 70's ivy look.

I really like the collection by Batten Sportswear, which is another American/Japanese brand lead by designer Shinya Hasegawa, who cut his teeth as Daiki Suzuki's assistant for the Woolrich Woolen Mills project. The whole collection is very, very strong with a nice surf/outdoor vibe, that is very easy to wear during the summer. To me the stand out piece is the "Travel Shell Parka" in the iconic 60/40 fabric with a lot of yesteryears functional details. On another important note it's made in the US - as is the whole collection.

You can get yours at End Clothing

Fabric Knowledge - Pertex

Pertex is a performance fabric made of Nylon, like many other outdoor/tech fabrics, which originates from England and was made available in 1970. It was a product of a collaboration between mountaineer, Hamish Hamilton and the textile mill Perseverance Mills Ltd. in Manchester. Nowadays the Japanese company Mitsui & Co produces the fabric, after they gained the rights to the fabric, after Perseverance liquidated in 2005.

There are different classes or grades of Pertex fabric, but the Classic is very similar to the one, that Hamish Hamilton helped develop, which is known for its light weight (even though it's the heaviest of all the grades of Pertex fabric), breathable qualities and wind resistance. It all comes down to the capillary action, that goes on within the fabric. This moves moisture along the fabric fibres and spreads it over the surface, and then it evaporates faster. 
This effect is reached by combining two different yarns each with different properties. Basically the yarn on the inside has larger filaments than the outside yarns which have smaller filaments. The capillary action is driven by the temperature difference between your body heat and the outside air. It moves the moisture from the inside to the outside because the finer yarns on the outside have a greater surface, that will absorb more moisture.

The tight weave of the finer yarns is the main reason to the wind resistance of the fabric. It isn't weather resistant however, but it will take some rain. If you're looking for the lightest Pertex options, you should go for the "Quantum" or "Microlight" probably, but these fabrics don't quite have the abrasion resistance of the Pertex Classic.

Lately Pertex has been used by more fashion oriented brands like A Bathing Ape and White Mountaineering, both out of Japan, so it isn't solely for outdoor brands like Rab.

Worth a Read - Raymond Carver

Running into my old high school English teacher a couple of days ago by chance and talking to her about the importance of the American short story made me think about Raymond Carver. When I got home some hours later I looked him up on the Internet and discovered, that on that very day it would have been his 74th birthday. I couldn't let this coincidence pass, so I decided to recommend some reading. I love his work, like I love the works of numerous other writers, but something makes him stand out to me. He has a way of telling stories, that you'll enjoy reading and if you get the same experience as I did, they'll leave a lasting imprint.

And you can get his collected works for pennies - almost literally. Head over to Amazon and pick up the short stories first and if you like it, pick up the collected poems too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Something About Sunglasses and Wes Anderson

I've got one pair of sunglasses, that I wear all the time during the summer, however they are a deadstock model from Anglo American Optical, which means if I loose them, then I'll probably never see another pair like them. Quite a scary thought. Therefore I'm always keeping a lookout for other alternatives. Of course there are plenty of good classics, that would make do, but I'd really like to find something really special in case I'd have to be without my beloved shades.

Some days ago I came across these Shuron sunglasses on Oi Polloi and I'm pretty sure, that they'd make a great substitute. They are a bit harder to pull off, than the typical "Wayfarer"-varieties, that you see all over the place and from the looks of it, It'll be another masterpiece.
Shuron makes great glasses and great sunglasses and they've been doing so since 1865. They've made them for the common man (their Ronsir model was a huge favourite during the 50s and 60s) and for the American army, so you know, you're getting a quality product. Furthermore production is still based in the US and the price is great. What more can you ask for?

What makes me want them is also the fact, that they remind me of the sunglasses worn by the character Richie Tenenbaum (played by Luke Wilson) in one of my favourite movies, "The Royal Tenenbaums" by Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson is probably my favourite living film director and if you haven't seen his films, then I suggest you do so straight away. His latest movie "Moonrise Kingdom" is out in theatres now or will be soon.
The sunglasses worn by Richie Tenenbaum however were made by the French company Vuarnet, which was a preppy favourite back in the 80's. As far as I know, the model is a deadstock model and I haven't been able to find them in retail, but they do pop up on eBay sometimes.

Joseph Dixon Edge Bevellers

I thought, that this blog would be about clothing mostly, but it has turned out to be about leatherworking tools. Please bear with me.

If you work with leather you'll definitely have come across Tandy. Tandy is a major corporation, that sells leather, tools and whatever you may need, but almost never of a good quality. They have killed off the competition and basically they control the market. You can get every tool you need to get started, but at some point when you feel, that your skills are improving, you'll start getting a bit annoyed by the inferior tools. This is basically the point, where I am now. I feel the need to exchange some of my older, starter tools with some new better tools.

There are very few good makers of leatherworking tools left - especially in Europe. Vergez Blanchard of France is one, Joseph Dixon of England is another.
I decided to go for Dixon, when I needed new edge bevellers, and I haven't been disappointed so far. An edge beveller or edge shaver is a tool, that you use to chamfer the edge of a piece a leather before you start treating the edges further.

Dixon tools are still made in England and the company has been around since 1843. The recipe seems to be the same; Good materials, steel, brass and wood. Simple.

Dixon makes two different kinds of edge shavers and they come in sizes from 1-8. I went for 2 and 3 of both kinds because they're often the ones, that you'll be reaching for the most. I wouldn't mind getting the rest of the bunch though.

This is a flat edge shaver, which is the type you see the most nowadays and it's great for smaller accessories.

This is the rounded edge shave is very similar to the flat edge shave, but as you can see, it's concave and will cut of slightly more leather and round the leather a bit more. This is used for belts mostly.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Restoration and Modification of An Old Stitching Clam

Some time ago I managed to rescue an old sewing clam, which was being used as display in an suburban clothing store. A sewing clam, you ask, is something you use, when you sew leather by hand. The clam sits between your legs and holds the object for you, so you can use both hands freely for sewing. 
The condition of the clam was rather good, but it still needed a bit of restoration. However the length wasn't ideal for the way I sew leather, as I rarely use an awl for making holes, when I sew. Therefore I needed to modify it slightly by making it shorter, so it would sit in front of me. Therefore I brought it with me to my parent's place, as my dad has more tools and much more experience with woodwork, than I have.

This is how the sewing clam looked before it. It was quite hard for me to alter this old piece of genuine craftsmanship, but I wouldn't be using as much, as I will now. So I felt like, I had to do it in order to bring it back to use and back to life.

First we sanded it down. 

The length was shortened. Nerve wrecking procedure.

Then we drilled some holes in order to add a screw, that would secure the jaws without causing leg fatigue.

I gave it some shellac in order make it a bit harder - although the wood was extremely hard and dry.

After the shellac had dried I glued on some leather at the tip of the jaws. This was added so the object, that you're holding, doesn't get scratched.

Lastly a hinge were attached, so it can still be used the way it was intended.

The final result.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wanting - Birkenstock Zurich

With summer right around the corner I find myself looking for a new pair of Birkenstock. Some may not like them, but I'm so hopelessly infatuated by the Japanese aesthetics, that I wear them on all occasions (I'm of course exaggerating). But they go with everything and I'll even go as far as saying, that you can wear these with socks. The quality is good and of course, they are made in Germany and comfy as hell.

I normally go for the Boston model, but this time I'll be buying the Zurich. The "double monkstrap" of sandals.

Unfortunately, I can't get my hands on this Japanese edition.

Or even these customised ones by HTC Company - again, out of Japan. But I could of course have a go at it myself. But I won't.

Topo Designs - Daypack

My quest for a backpack came to an temporary end some weeks ago, when I finally purchased the daypack from Topo Designs. I have long been wanting to buy a backpack because a tote gets hard to carry, if you stuff it, and messenger bags can cause some fatigue, if you don't switch shoulders every now and then. The reason for me choosing Topo is quite simple; they're affordable (or rather cheap, actually), they're sturdy and they look good. But they aren't super good, which is why my search is only temporarily over because I will get another and better backpack, once I have the money and come across the perfect backpack. However I have to say, that you would have a hard time of finding a better product at the price. So this is true value for money.

I field tested the bag, when I went back home for six days, which I'll tell you more about a little later. Here is how it looks, when it is stuffed to maximum capacity.

It's much bigger, than it appears. It has a volume of 22.4 L.

The leather quality could be a bit better, but still it's a very nice detail.

Though I'm usually not too fond of YKK zippers, these are great. They run smoothly and easily.

The camo pattern is quite en mode right now. But I love it despite all the hype.

The hardware is all metal and the webbing seems sturdy. In a perfect world it would have been cotton webbing, however many companies used the same type of webbing in the heyday of hiking back in the 60s and 70s.

What you can't see from these pictures, is that the inside is very thoughtfully put together. It has a space for your laptop and some good pockets, which makes it easy to arrange all of your stuff.

For around $100 plus shipping you can get a well-made (in the US) bag that will last a long time. I think, that's great and Topo deserve every bit of praise.

And it so happens to be, that they just released a short video featuring the very sympathetic owners.