Sunday, January 29, 2012

Watches - Part 1

As I've said before, I'm a collector of a lot of things. I'm always on the hunt for new things to collect, albeit never consciously, it just falls in my lap. One of the things I started collecting years ago is watches. It all started, when my parent's gave me a Ole Mathiesen watch, when I graduated high school, which replaced some awful quartz watches, I had been wearing until then. Nowadays I almost never wear quartz watches, although it can be funny sometimes.

I wanted to show off my collection of watches, which are almost entirely vintage. Not because they are good - a matter of fact most of them are completely worthless - but because I think old watches have an inherent beauty, that a lot of new watches don't have. Most of my watches are either given to my, found on flea markets or bought in antique stores, so none of them represent any real value besides affection.
And if you are wondering, why there are some women's watches among them, I can only say, I've never never passed on a watch, just because it is a women's watch. I'm sure, they'll all make some friend or girlfriend happy.

A little about the concept. All photos are shot by Niels Hjorth in series of 5-6 watches on a different background. The background is found in another collection of mine - my big collection of vintage fabrics. No editing has been done to photos in order to show the grime, dirt and patina on vintage watches.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WAYWT - 01

WAYWT isn't really my thing, but I've been wearing the Eastlands constantly, since purchasing them a couple of days ago, and I'm surprised by the level of comfort and absolutely no break-in period. It's been a pleasure. Furthermore they are really growing on me, and I think they look absolutely stunning.

From the bottom up I'm wearing

Eastland Made in Maine suede chukkas
LVC 1954 501z  jeans - absolutely worn out
Jamieson's fair isle  Shetland sweater
Lavenham waxed, quilted jacket

Not visible - Engineered Garments 19th century BD shirt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Knot Clothing & Belt Co.

Sometimes I feel tired of wearing a leather belt, and sometimes I have beer goggles - perfect match. Grosgrain, brass D-ring makes for a pretty cool and fun casual belt. I'm really starting to prepare for summer.

Made in the USA by Knot Clothing & Belt Co

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just in - Eastland Made in Maine - Monhegan Chukka

Today I strolled by my friend Mark's shop (full disclosure and all that jazz) and decided to pop in to have a closer look at some chukkas, that I have had my eyes on for quite a while now. I wasn't sure, if I were to buy them or not, but after trying them on, there was no doubt in my mind, that I needed to add them to my wardrobe. So I got these instead of the Loakes, I recently ordered, as the order got cancelled. Though I had sworn, that I wouldn't be purchasing another piece of footwear with a moc toe, I got weak and caved in. (Although for the record it must be said, that I consider moccasins (bluchers, boat shoes etc) a true mainstay and a go to, when it comes to my choice of footwear)

The chukkas were from Eastland, which isn't normally a brand, that I would ever consider buying, since their production has been outsourced to the Far East. But they have created a nice little collection called "Made in Maine", that is all made in the US - in Maine, of course. I do suspect, that Eastland doesn't have their own product facilities anymore, so suspicion tells me, that they are made by Rancourt & Co. This isn't a bad thing what so ever, as Rancourt is known for making some very well-made products for a lot of prominent customers like Ralph Lauren for instance.

What really spoke to me was the sleek design, which means, that there is no heel slipping, as you experience with many chukkas. The last shape, that they used is great. Because of my wide feet I'm hoping, that they'll stretch out just slightly, but I'm seriously considering swapping my Birkenstocks for these as my new slippers. They'll be perfect, once I start wearing them.

The raw hide laces are still very stiff, but I'll be giving them some Neatsfoot oil or some Huberd's shoe oil in order to soften them up and thus creating a slightly nicer and tighter knot.

The peanut coloured suede, which comes from Horween, complements the plantation crepe sole very nicely, I think

I'm not sure, if this picture gives a true representation of the shape, but they are very sleek and I see them going very well with a pair of tapered jeans.

Here's what made me buy them; Perfect hand stitches. A token of true craftsmanship.

As many of you have probably noticed, the market is flooded with hand-sewn moccasin, which is a good thing to me, as I love them, as I enjoy the different alternatives. However I haven't been impressed by some of the recent Quoddys and Yuketens, as the stitching hasn't been slightly off, and some of the leathers haven't been impressive either. I'm not sure, if the increase of interest has meant a decline of quality. I'm not saying, that Yuketen, nor Quoddy, is bad in any way, but for a premium price I think you have to use suitable and good leathers and one of the most important parts, the hand stitching, can't be crooked.

So I decided to go for these, as the stitching is spotless and the leather feels really nice. I'm not knowledgeable enough on Horween suedes, but it feels really nice and I'm sure, it'll age well and take a beating. I'm quite sure however, that the leather has been oil-tanned, as it has a sort of waxy feel on the grain side, which you can see on the inside, as they are unlined.. 

I forgot to use the word, sturdy. In case you were in doubt, these are very sturdy.

A heavy leather midsole and a nice straight welt-stitching. Quality.

I like the fact, that the socklining is made of the same material, as the shoe itself.

If you are in the market for some bluchers, loafers, boat shoes, deck shoes with a hand-sewn toe, I suggest you give Eastland Made in Maine a look. They are equally as good, if not better than many of the more hyped brands, that are getting a lot of attention at the moment.

Now if I could just get the pair of Eastland Made in Maine bluchers in olive Chromexcel, out of my head, before I go ahead and buy both. Luckily I have a birthday approaching in the near future.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Factory Visit - The Cobbler on Nørre Allé - Sandalmageren

A couple of days ago I decided rather spontaneusly to take my photographer friend, Niels, along for a small impromptu factory visit. I've been meaning to do some new factory visits, but I haven't really had the time, nor has it really been possible, as the few factories or craftsmen left in Denmark are scattered all over the country, which makes having a car or some other mean of transportation a neccessity.

However I knew, that there was a cobbler close to my place, that makes sandals, when he isn't repairing shoes, bags and other leather accessories for his customers. Furthermore I knew, that he has some very nice machinery stashed away. We did get to see some, but not all unfortunately, as most of it is located in his other workshop. With that in mind we decided to go for a walk and meet up with shoemaker, Helge Larsen.

Helge Larsen sailed the seas, when he was young, but after some years at sea he met a beautiful girl in Aarhus, which made him decide to end his seafaring days. A rather classic sailor story. But that didn't make him take up shoe making, instead he worked odd jobs, until he decided to become an apprenticed shoe maker almost 5 years ago. Working with leather wasn't some kind of new found hobby for him. He has been doing it for many years. It first became a time consuming hobby, when he started making bags for motorcycles for himself and friends.

Years later he decided to get his apprenticeship as a shoemaker, which he did in Aalborg and he even got a scholarship for being particularly skillful. It was also as an apprentice, that Helge acquired valuable skills, contacts and machines, that now ensures his daily bread. He told, that while his fellow students enjoyed their free time after school, he would pick up his bike and drive around to fellow shoemakers and thereby he learned the tricks of his trade. Or as he stated in Marxian terms "Knowledge is power"

Helge walks us through the process of making a pair of sandals. The parts are all cut using a clicker press, then the parts are either stitched together on one of his amazing sole stitchers or riveted on his rivet machine, which we unfortunately didn't get to see, but I'm sure, that it's as nice as his other machines. Finally straps are added and a lot of other different processes like attaching the buckle, rounding the edges on the straps and cutting holes on the straps.

One thing is sure, Helge has his equipment covered. He has been buying equipment from other shoemakers, that closed its doors, old factories and from retired leather craftsmen. Therefore he has quite a lot of equipment, that was produced on the Vilhelm Pedersen factory in Høng. The Vilhelm Pedersen produced machines for a lot of different industries in Denmark. Among others the shoemaking industry, which basically was totally shut down by the 70's, but up until then it was quite a thriving industry.
Among leather geeks Vilhelm Pedersen is known for making its own edition of the iconic Junker&Ruh SD28 (please follow this link) hand-driven sole stitcher. And Helge has one of these machines, but we didn't get to see it, but we did get to see the pride of his machine collection - his Rapid E. The Rolls Royce of sole stichers.

When you see this machine, you'll probably be quite awestruck. It's a monster. The thread, that it uses is thick as a rope and the needle looks like a knife. You could potentially sew through a brick with it. He told us, how he got his first Rapid E stitcher for free basically (he now owns three of them in more or less working condition). It didn't work, but he still bought it for a friend. He fixed the machine himself and made it sew again. Helge has no education, when it comes to fixing machines or refurbishing machines, but he is still almost always able to do so himself. He told us stories of how he would take things apart, when he was a kid. As he got older, he would also start putting things together again. He needed to know, how things work. Apparently he also learned, how the Rapid E works, as he has managed to increase the stitch speed from 300 stiches per minut to almost double speed at 500 stitches per minut. Time is money, as he puts it.

Now for some images of the sandals, that we came for. There aren't many makers of sandals left in Denmark, however I know of two other producers, which will of course eventually be featured here. The sandals are made of a 3mm thick vegetable tanned leather and they are equipped with a rubber sole. They carry the name Sandalmageren, which basically translates to "The sandal maker" In case you are wondering the buckle is a pretty standard solid brass buckle. They are made in both sizes for men and women. Although I think a lot of men are put off by the thought of wearing sandals either by hippie-connotations or images of old men wearing them with socks. Many of these Danish made sandals are quite masculine and very solidly built - or as Helge says "The only problem is, that they last a good 10 years, so it takes a while before I see the customer again"

The sandals are available through Helge's own website. Or I'll gladly swing by and help you find a pair.

In the back of Helge's workshop I found this box of Vibram soles. I don't think I'm much of a sandal man myself, but if I could have them equipped with a mini-lug sole from Vibram, I would definitely think about it twice. Maybe I'll take this idea to Helge to see if it could be made. 
Or at least I know, where I can have my boots and shoes equipped with a new Vibram sole and I know, that his Rapid E will stitch through anything.

Now if you are in Aarhus, Denmark, and in need of shoe repairs, I'm sure, you won't find anyone as capable as Helge. I'm also sure, that he'll throw in some free advice on how to maintain your shoes. He is a very straight forward man, that will give his honest opinion on just about everything. 
Lastly if you work with leather and in need of something special, I'm sure, that Helge is the right man to find it. His network is big and he has a nose for finding things. Again, "knowledge is power"

All words by Simon Tuntelder and all photos by Niels Hjorth

Photos have also been uploaded to Flickr

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hansen - SS12 Images

I saw these pictures some time ago, when we visited the lovely people over at Hansen (remember?), and I couldn't help feeling an urge to go to Sweden in the summertime - actually I just wanted the seasons to change into summer all together. But spending the summer in Sweden wouldn't be too bad either. Which reminds me, I should probably finally spend a vacation in Sweden, as I really want to visit the tannery in Tärnsjö as well.

I won't say much about these pictures other than I think, that the men in Åse's family (because that is exactly what they are - real men) look very handsome and the pictures are very nice as well. The clothes look amazing too of course.

I really look forward to spending some time with our friends at Hansen and hopefully we can cover some of their interesting garments yet again in another post.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Need More Tools

I just re-watched this little feature on BillyKirk. I don't pay much attention to this brand, but I'm sure, they make fine pieces. However I think you can get more value for your buck, if you go to some other leather craftsmen. 
What I did like from the feature, was looking at their work shop (although it's not where they create their pieces. Most of them are created by Amish craftsmen) and I totally love all of their tools and the machines they have. I would kill to have such a great collection. So if you know of anyone in Denmark, who has tools or machines for leather making lying around unused, feel free to e-mail me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recent Purchase - Loake Bakewell

Damn order got cancelled. I love shops, that don't manage their stock very well.

I have basically stuck to my non-shopping promise, that I made, when I purchased a rather expensive pair of Viberg Oxfords. This has been rather boring in terms of blogging, but personally it has been a pleasure actually. I have a very big wardrobe as is, so I haven't really felt the need for any new purchases, although the sale has had some nice offerings, that were very tempting. 

But when I came across this model from Loake called "Bakewell" online at a great price, I couldn't help but pull the trigger. I'm not entirely impressed by Loake as a brand, but I have seen some shoes and boots from their "1880 line" and they have all been of a rather good quality. They aren't Crockett&Jones, Tricker's or Edward Green quality, but they are also a lot less expensive. The "1880 line" is still made in Northampton, England, which matters a whole lot to me.

Hopefully these shoes will fill a void, that I have in my wardrobe for a pair of casual, non-moc toe, non-workwear, oxfords, that I can wear all year round. And of course also wear with jeans. A pair of kickers basically. Furthermore I have rather wide feet, so the G-width of these shoes will hopefully fit me really well, and I'm keeping my finger's crossed tightly, that the leather is of a somewhat decent quality. If the quality is just above mediocre, I'll be thrilled.

I'll of course try to give an in-depth impression on them and pictures to boot, once I finally receive them. Hopefully this experiment will turn out successful.

"Geeking Watches – Now in Japanese" By Rasmus Jakobsen

There are often two kinds of watch geeks. Those who swear by the more traditional, Swiss watchmakers, and those who look to the east, more specifically Japan, when it comes to investing in a new wrist adornment. Up until recently I belonged to that first group. I have dedicated a worrying amount of hours on research using search words such as "Omega dive watches", "Swiss made watches" and "IWC vs Jaeger LeCoultre". Over the past year I have swapped one Omega for another and never considered why ‘Swiss made’ was my natural preference.

But in the last few months I have pursued new paths for some unknown reason. I turned my attention to the Japanese watch market. When one speaks of Japanese watchmakers, it is a relatively comprehensible topic. There are of course a slew of makers, who primarily deal in quartz-based watches, but if we concentrate on mechanical quality watches, which is what I do, there are very few - but very interesting - Japanese makers. One of which is Seiko, of course.

To many, Seiko is synonymous with cheap plastic watches and hardy G-Shock-models, but the company, founded in 1881, is capable of so much more. Alongside the quartz models they produce mechanical watches of the highest quality. From the amazingly affordable “series 5” to the extremely exclusive "Grand Seiko" watches. The thing, they all have in common, apart from their in-house produced movements, is that they are the result of Japanese thoroughness and a rare sense of quality and finesse. In other words you would be hard pressed to find mechanical watches of a similar quality at the same price. Value for money, one might say.

I had been searching for an understated dress-watch with a leather strap for some time, to supplement my steel diver’s watches (I'll cover them in a future post), when I clicked on to that deals in some of the most interesting watches on the Japanese market (and offers worldwide shipping). This is where I found the watch that brought me to my keyboard to write this post: Seiko SARB072 with in-house-movement 6R15.

Since receiving the watch four days ago I have only taken it off, when it was of the utmost necessity to do so, and I have no doubt whatsoever, that this watch is a keeper. For just under 4.000 Kr, which was the sum I ended up paying including tax and VAT, one could hardly ask for a better deal. Precisely and thoroughly tested automatic movement, a face of sapphire-cut glass, a beautiful case with lovely details and finesse, and a nice, comfortable leather strap with a steel buckle.

Enough talk – let's look at some pictures. The following are taken from