Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Socks and Some Friendly Fire

Today I had the day off. I went for a walk, although it seems fall is here already with lots and lots of rain. First I hit some of the nearest thrift stores had some luck and got a good metal box for my workshop. Later on I passed by a friend's shop, Shoe Chapter because I had seen some very interesting parcels from Universal Works arriving at the shop the other day.

First off, I would like to say that I'm in no way affiliated with Shoe Chapter. Yet - at least. And I always pay for all the stuff I buy there. I just like the owner, Mark and I would like to support his venture. The reason why I want to support that venture, is quite simple. I want to support it because it is a visionary shop which will hopefully go from strength to strength within the next couple of seasons. At the moment there might be a bit too many sneakers for my taste, but the stock keeps getting better with the addition of WM. J. Mills bags and Fracap this season. Last season he got Viberg, Sanders, Field Notes, Tretorn, Birkenstock and Huberds.

I have been going sockless for the last 3 or 4 months and I feel uncomfortably warm when I wear socks now, but there is no question about where the weather is heading, so I felt it was time to buy some new socks. I bought three new pairs of Universal Work socks because I couldn't decide which colourway to go for. They are made of a cotton blend and most importantly they are made in England. They aren't up to Corgi standards, but they are quite good, and affordable.
Mark told me that they will be online within a couple of days, in case you wanted some new socks desperately and couldn't find them on the webshop.

If you are also shopping for fall shoes, and have cash to spare, I suggest you also cast a glance at the Viberg Oxfords that Shoe Chapter has for sale. If I had the money I would buy them in an instant, but the price of 3.800 kr is a hindering I can't surpass. The quality and construction of Viberg is second to none. I mean, the leather, the impeccable sewing, the smell, the touch, the feel, the heft - all ad to the fact that this is an investment. Most likely a lifetime investment.

If you are buying them, please don't buy the 10.5's. I have been eyeing them for a long time now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sadelmager Dahlman - Part 2

I have tried uploading the pictures from Dahlman to Flickr. This should allow you to see them in a better resolution, or more like they were intended to be viewed.

Please follow this link to the Flickr set.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Worth a Listen: The War On Drugs

Things have been a bit slow the last couple of days due to other obligations. I haven't forgotten about my dear readers, which will hopefully increase in numbers and I still hope that everyone will chip in with comments, ideas, critique, recommendations or what ever you may have.

In the coming week I'll be able to present the very first guest blogger here on ATD, if everything goes according to plan. I started this blog hoping that friends and acquaintances with an interesting perspective would also ad to what ATD is. This will materialise soon.

I have also noticed that Blogger isn't any good, when it comes to pictures, so I'll be setting up a Flickr account, so you can see the pictures in a higher resolution. The pictures from the Dahlman post were done by Rasmus, and he put a lot of effort into it, but I now see that the current format doesn't do them any justice.

In order to give this post some sort of substance, I would like to recommend a band, that I have been listening to for a long time, The War on Drugs. They do not have Kurt Vile on guitar any longer, but they are still creating stunning music with references to giants like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Stuffed Horse and Danish Modern

A stone's throw away from the main shopping street in Copenhagen there is a small saddler's shop called, Sadelmager Dahlman. It's a hidden gem with a great story, that needs to be told before it is too late and Dahlman is no more. At its prime Dahlman employed a lot of people and had some stuffed horses to exhibit their saddles, but now there are only two left, the brothers Frank and Erik Hendriksen and the horses have been donated to museums. They haven't employed any apprentices in recent times, so it's probably the end of the line for Dahlman.

Now I could go on and on about the great story and the great heritage of Dahlman, but in this case that isn't the interesting part. Of course it plays a huge part, but I don't find the equestrian side that exciting, though I can appreciate the craft and skills that it requires. But if you want to read about it, they have written about their story in detail - here

There are a few other saddlers in Denmark and some of them might be making belts and leather accessories, but what sets Dahlman apart from the others is their unique assortment. This is a direct result of their willingness to work together - what we today would call collaborate - with the architects, who would later go on and make Danish design very famous. Dahlman made leather work to their specifications and were generally very involved in the creation process. This resulted in leather work on furniture for many famous Danish designers such as Børge Mogensen and Arne Jacobsen, as well as more fashion related items such as a briefcase and a very special belt.

It was the very special belt and briefcase that was our goal on that early spring Saturday when we drove our bikes over to Dahlman's shop. We were greeted by Erik, who was the only one there, as Frank had some other business to attend to. At first he was quite apprehensive, but when he learned that we were very interested in his trade and his products, he more than willingly gave us a tour of Dahlman's legacy. We of course gladly inspected all their products with great care and inhaled that pleasant smell of good leathers that is everywhere in their shop. Erik also showed us all of their old tools which had been passed down by one generation of saddlers to the other. Some of the tools were over a hundred years old, and they looked well-used. Surprisingly they also had a lot of deadstock silver buckles that were used on the royal horse-drawn carriages, which are now used as belt buckles.

Now for the stuff that made us go to Dahlman's amazing shop. All of it has been made since the 1940's when it was developed together with Danish achitects like Kaare Klint, Poul Kühl and especially Erik Herlöw. It later became "comme il faut" among designers to wear these items.

First up, a pair of sandals. These are unlike most other Dahlman items sewn on an old Singer machine, but they are cut by hand. They are meant to be worn inside as a pair of very stylish slippers. If I remember correctly, they cost a 1000 kr ($200), unless you want them fitted for your wide or narrow feet, then they cost slightly more.

Secondly there is the breathtaking briefcase or attaché that was 30 kr (6 dollars in the 40's), when it was first made, and now comes to a staggering price of 24.000 kr (around $4.600), although it was on sale for a bit less. I'm not trying to justify the price, but you do get a very nice briefcase that has been completely handsewn, which takes a couple of days, in a very nice leather with custom made solid brass hardware. This is old world craftsmanship.

Lastly there is the belt that is commonly known as the "Architect belt" because it was worn by many of the Danish architects. In the beginning the belt came in natural only, but Arne Jacobsen wanted the belt in black, so he had the saddlers dye it black, so he could have it his way. If you talk to Erik about the belt, he'll refer to it as the "Saurmurhage bæltet" (in Danish) referring to the French origin of the hook stud used for the belt. The belt is normally made of 27mm wide vegetable tanned leather and again, every stitch is hand sewn using an awl and two needles. What you don't see, unless you inspect the back of the belt, is how each belt hole has drilled channel on the backside in order to make the hook go through the hole more easily.

To me this belt is iconic. Fantastic craftsmanship, great quality, beautiful details, minimalistic design and lastly a story like no other. The price isn't too bad either - around 1000 kr.

Thank you, Erik for taking your precious time to show us around your shop.

All words by Simon Tuntelder and all photographs by Rasmus Peter Vagn Jakobsen

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BlogLoving: Vintage Engineer Boots, Discharge Style and Your Old Pal Jim

I read a lot of blogs, that is no secret. I like to read blogs on a lot of different subjects - too many to mention here.

I like blogs that deal with a lot of different subjects, but I especially like people that blog about a very specific and narrow subject. It was just like, when I was a kid, when I collected stamps with my dad. I would sometimes meet men - mostly - that would only collect stamps from Haiti from 1881 to 1901 and they would know EVERYTHING there was to know about their subject. That really fascinated me, when I was a kid. But I guess, it never rubbed off on me, as I tend to collect everything I can get my hands on.

So here are three blogs - I was going to make it a twofer, but then I thought, what the heck - that are all dedicated to, almost, one subject.

Firstly, a blog about Engineer boots

Secondly, a Japanese blog about vintage bandanas - Unfortunately it isn't being updated any longer.

Thirdly, a blog about overalls - and other work wear related subjects.

*And lastly you should all know about a side project that Jim from Youroldpaljim is doing right now. He has made some ties of vintage fabrics, that he has found over the years. The ties are ade in a very beautiful way, that I would love to learn how to do some day. Take a look at them here. Jim's last name, Christensen, sounds very Danish, so maybe he has some Danish ancestors (I haven't asked him - yet), so maybe he deserves a place in the ATD hall of fame. Not that there is a hall of fame - yet.

Yuketen Wingtip Ghillie Moc

I was browsing through the latest additions to Tres Bien Shop's assortment. Their buys are always rock solid, and it is obvious why they are doing so well. Of course they could be buying more from smaller, niche brands, but for what TBS is, they are probably the best shop.

What caught my eye, was something rather unexpected. At least since everything wasn't written in Japanese. These wingtip Ghillie mocs with a ripple sole are just too much, but in a really good way or rather Japanese way. The ripple sole have begun to show outside of Asia, where it has been used quite a lot, even though it was originally a sole developed for the US army. Luckily We have seen the sole used in our Western Hemisphere in recent Viberg collaborations with Inventory and Leffot. And I'm sure that we'll be seeing it a lot in the time to come. These babies are are also giving a nod to Scotland with the classic Ghillie, and of course there is the classic moccasin construction, and the Goodyear welt not to forget.
All of this makes them a conglomeration of different elements from all around the world. That is the really great thing about Japanese culture, as they really care about history, quality, details and country of origin. Something I think we can all lean from.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Quest for the Ultimate Winter Coat - The Duffle

A good friend e-mailed me the other day asking about advice regarding winter coats. He asked for the ultimate winter coat/jacket, saying that it needed to be warm, handsome and have some details/qualities and it had to be made to a certain standard.

I spent some time thinking about it and I was slightly baffled by this because I never really thought about buying just one coat or jacket, as I have always enjoyed some diversity. Therefore I will try to highlight some good, classic winter coats that would probably get you through winter in good and warm health, while still looking good.

The duffle coat is a stable. Period. It has been around for many years and it has stood the test of time. Originally it was introduced as a military coat, but it has later become a go-to coat for preppies and mods. I don't own one at the moment, but I have had one from Gloverall. Gloverall have seen a resurgence in the last couple of years. Latelt they have been making the classic duffle in some different cuts and colours while trying to capture a younger audience. If you feel like wearing a turquoise slim fit duffle in Nylon, that is fine by me. Though it would be advisable to get one in a more wearable colour, like navy, gray, black or dark green. Gloverall is still made in England and the wool used is of a descent quality, though it is very prone to pilling. But that is how it looks, and it looks good in a way, though I know of some people, that have been disappointed with the pilling.

If you are after a more rugged solution, brands like Harnold Brooks, Fidelity and Schott comes to mind. Besides them a lot of good brands like Engineered Garments and National Anthem have featured a duffle in their collection several times.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Listen: Ephat Mujuru & Dumisani Maraire

Yesterday, I recommended that you gave Wu Lyf a listen.

It made me think. After the Denim is not a music blog and it never will be. If you were to classify it, I would be honoured if you were to call it a blog about style. To me there is nothing more stylish than being surrounded by good music. So what is good music? I have no idea really, but somehow I guess I do.

Therefore I'll try to occasionally write about the music that I like to listen to in no particular order what so ever. It's going to be both old and new. Some of it you might know, and some if it, you might not. Hopefully, you'll like some of it, and hopefully you won't like it all. My biggest hope is that you'll form an opinion.

I can't remember how I came across the record Masters of the African Mbira by Ephat Mujuru & Dumisani Maraire, but I like to listen to it some times - especially while reading before going to sleep.

The Much Awaited Singer 222

As announced I have something very special in store for you. Something I have been wanting for a very long time. It is enclosed in this small black box with Bakelite handles.

When it comes to sewing machines I like them old. Very old. It isn't something that I base on aesthetics, although I would be lying if I said, that sewing machines weren't more handsome in the past. I like old sewing machines because they were built much stronger and much simpler. Sewing machines weren't some disposable junk that you would buy twice in a lifetime. It was an investment and a big one.

I'm not a skilled sewer. I sew alright, but my needs are pretty basic, which is why I have used and loved my Singer 221 ever since receiving as a late birthday present from my sister some time ago. Even though you can't do a million different stitches and you can't programme it on a computer, you can do everything that you would ever need to make. If that isn't enough there are still a lot of different accessories for the Featherweights widely available and there are helpful and passionate people like Graham Forsdyke, if you ever need any help or advice. But the part is that the Featherweights sews perfectly. The stitches are just so damn beautiful.

I can't remember when I first read about the Singer Featherweight, but again who would remember that?
I do however remember when I knew that I HAD to own a Featherweight - The 29th of August 2010 to be exact! I know the exact date because that was the date, when Tommy of This is Naive posted pics of her 222. I instantly knew that it was the machine I needed because it was small, handy, strong (like a mustang!), beautiful and somehow very manly.

If I had the space for it, I would probably be buying (old) industrial machines, but when you are a student and you have limited space, there is very few machines that can compete with the Singer Featherweights.

As mentioned before I already own the original Featherweight, the 221. But I sometimes miss - and need - the free arm function of the 222 - the older brother to the 221. Therefore I have been looking for a 222 that I would be able to pay for, which wasn't on eBay or online, as they fetch very high prices there. Fortunately I was lucky enough to find one in descent condition here in Denmark and I bought it for a very reasonable amount from an old lady named Agnethe.

The machine came with a lot of different accessories. I had most of them already, from what I have seen, but it is always nice to have substitutes and spares. It is in desperate need of some oil, which I couldn't find in my mess, so I'll have to drench when I get the chance to buy some new oil tomorrow. Lastly it needs a good clean-up, a new belt and some rubber feet, which I will be buying from Graham.

Thank you Agnethe. I promise to look after it and use it frequently with care.

The Importance of Being Idle

I just started school which means I have been busy socialising and drinking a good, healthy amount of alcohol.

I also received a parcel containing something very special indeed. Something I have been searching for since discovering it a couple of years ago. I'll reveal what the postman dropped off, once there is a bit of sunshine here in Aarhus, so I can take some pictures in natural light.

Lastly I have been writing on the first post about one of the first factory visits, I did with my good friend, Rasmus. But it is taking more time than I anticipated, probably because it's been so long, since it took place.

Instead of posting about absolutely nothing, I figured I might as well use your attention, if I still have it, and turn it towards a band called, Wu Lyf. I have been listening to their debut album, "Go Tell Fire to the Mountain" for some time now. It's not an album, that you can listen to on any occasion, nor can you hear it again and again, but there is something very special about the album. There is more to come from Wu Lyf, I'm sure.

It should be said that I'm not a music, film or literary critic. At all. But that is not going to stop me from recommending both music, books, magazines, films, shows or what have you. I think you need good music and books in order to constantly evolve. So if I come across something that I think is good, I'll recommend it to you. It may not be good in a year or a week, but if it feels right in the moment, I'm probably going to to tell you about it.
If you find something good, please tell me as well. I would love to look, listen and learn.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quoddy Workshop

I purchased my first pair of Quoddy Moccasins some years ago. Now back then they weren't advertised as being made by Quoddy. They were advertised as a pair of Albam moccasins made near the Passamaquoddy bay in Maine, USA. Fastforward a couple of years and Quoddy is almost a household name.
I still have them around, although they are pretty worn out by now, in case you are wondering.

I'm not going to write much about Quoddy at this point, but I'll yet again post a video on how a moccasin is made, and the skill and craft that goes into a pair of moccasins.

PS. If you want the nicest pair of Quoddy moccasins, you should probably head over to South Willard, as they happen to make the best custom ones.

A Broken Bag

Mathias Kokholm, is a young and very interesting editor and publisher. He is a bookworm and he carries a ton of books in his leather messenger bag from Works Unltd. This has resulted in a bunch of busted seams, broken rivets and a bag that would have been ready for the garbage bin, if he hadn't returned to the shop to have it fixed. The job later got passed on to me, and I did it as a favour.

This is a small pictorial of what I had to do in order to fix the bag. Actually, I didn't fix the bag, so to speak. I improved it basically because a hand stitch (saddle stitch) is way stronger and longer lasting that a machine stitch (lock stitch). I'll find an illustration at some point to show this. I did a lot of hand sewing on the bag, and I just used the same hole that were already present from the machine stitching, which wasn't all straight.
Then I hand punched a solid brass rivet and made a leather washer as backing, to exchange the jiffy rivets that had fallen off. And finally I gave it some - you guessed it - pure Neatsfoot oil, as it looked a bit neglected.
None of the repairs were done to make it look like it when it was new. No, the repairs were indeed made to make it last even longer.

Had I known, how time consuming this was, I would probably have thought twice about accepting the gig, but every stitch made is a learning experience for me. On top of this, Mathias is a great guy, and I like the idea of him carrying around too many books in his bag.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crafts - Leather iPhone 4 Case

Today was spent in the basement workshop with a good friend and long time supporter of my crafts, Anna.

Anna wanted something to protect her newly acquired and much loved iPhone 4. So I helped her make a case for it in some 3-4 mm (6-8 in total!!) thick vegetable tanned leather.
In the past I have made wallets, card cases, billfolds and different cases but never a case for an iPhone, so I spent some time yesterday drawing some sketches for a possible design. But it was still tricky making the pattern just right for it. But for a prototype I think we nailed it pretty much. I think, it will be a bit easier the next time around - at least I hope that is the case. So if anybody wants one, let me know (at info.afterthedenim@gmail.com), and we can sort out a price.

The process was pretty straightforward, but it always involves a lot of steps. First you cut the leather, then you soak it in water to make it easier to work with. After that there is some more cutting, some more preparation, and some hand sewing. Finally you burnish it, and you burnish it hard and you burnish it good.
Finally you give it some conditioner, in this case pure neatsfoot oil, which always darkens the leather slightly. I decided to use neatsfoot oil because this case will probably be put under hard use and abuse.

* Disclaimer. I didn't do the sewing - I just assisted - my sewing is usually just slightly more straight and clean. But Anna still managed to do a pretty awesome job. Bravo.

** Second disclaimer. Pictures were taken with her iPhone in artificial lighting, while it was pitch black outside. So remember, it looks way better in real life.

*** Third disclaimer. This iPhone case is pretty damn good, so actually it doesn't need any disclaimers. Sorry.

Documentary - Sean

This old documentary came to mind this morning.

It is definitely worth another view, if you have already seen it. And if you haven't there is something good in store for you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Misc - eBay Find - WWI Lighter

If you spend enough time on the Internet or rather enough time on eBay, you are sure to come across some weird things and sometimes you'll discover some amazing things. Sometimes you will also come across some weird amazing things.

Here is one object, that I never knew existed. And in this case, I'm not going to file it under "Things I never knew existed, and now desperately need". Mostly because I don't smoke anymore.

Behold the magnificent "penis" lighter

On the Subject of Shell Cordovan

At one point in school, I had to write an essay on the subject leather. Being the nurd that I am, I decided to write about cordovan. This lead me to a lot of research and while doing this research, I stumbled upon this old document from Horween.

This will be a good and funny read for everyone interested in Shell Cordovan. If you know a lot about it, it will still be a pleasant read, and if you know nada, then prepare for a treat.

* Remember you have to click on the image to see it in full size. Sorry if this is obvious.