Batten Sportswear is up there for my favorite new brand of 2011. Its first collection for SS12 was an intriguing mix of American made, vintage, retro outdoors and Japanese quirkiness. The man behind the brand — Shinya Hasegawa — is very much a one man operation handling design, production, sales and everything else all on his own. It’s inspiring to see the level of quality and detail that Shinya builds into each piece of the collection, which, at this point, is still fairly small. But bigger ambitions are there for sure. To me, it seems like Batten is sort of like the Engineered Garments to the surf/ retro-outdoor world. The styles may be recognizable, but the materials, fit and quality are all highly considered and superior to the retro re-issues that the outdoor world is turning out. Much like what EG does with work wear — more or less anyway. That said, there are definitely some companies out there that are making really nice retro-styled product of very high quality — Crescent Down Works springs to mind.
Batten appeals to me though, because I like the retro style with updated fits, and because I always prefer to support a small independent company when I can. Plus, Shinya is a stand up guy. The initial SS12 collection has been picked up by some great stores — Steven Alan, United Arrows, Beams, Hickoree’s, Garbstore, The Bureau, Oi Polloi, Extra and Independence to name a few — giving Batten a great start. I also hear that a New York pop up shop is also in the works, which should be officially announced shortly. This AW12 collection builds on the base of what was done for SS12, and it will be great to see how things continue to progress even further. It goes to show that it doesn’t take huge teams of people to make good clothes, one person and a lot of passion can accomplish much. [BATTEN SPORTSWEAR]