The Made in Brooklyn series from filmmaker Dustin Cohen won’t stop telling good stories. The subject this time is Frank Catalfumo of F&C Shoe Rebuilding in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn who’s been making and fixing footwear out of his little shop since 1945. Despite being 91 years old (or ninety and a half as he says), Frank is still going strong working five days a week alongside his son Michael. It’s really interesting to hear about how the neighborhood has changed in the nearly seventy years since he’s been there. While Bensonhurst may not have stayed the same, Frank with his sunny outlook has persevered.
Stanley & Sons is an easy thing to like. I’ve been a fan since my first encounter a few years back. There’s a certain aesthetic correctness to everything they do — from the art direction of the website to the physical products — that I have always appreciated. The tiny company operates out of a basement space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that serves as showroom, factory and head office all in one. Enter through the hatch in the sidewalk and walk to the back, you can’t miss ‘em. I stopped by last Friday to see the new SS13 collection and to see what Stanley & Sons has been up lately.
David Sokosh makes watches one at a time by hand in his studio in Brooklyn, New York. The watches are all crafted from from automatic movements of 70s era Swiss pocket watches. It’s a slow process (he’s currently has a 16 week back order) that produces really cool and one of a kind timepieces.
He started Brooklyn Watches after he was forced to shutter his Dumbo-based art gallery after the recession slowed things down. As he explains in yet another intriguing and genuine video from Etsy, Sokosh started making watches to sell at the Brooklyn Flea, just to give him something to do and to make some money. Eventually though, the watches gained a following and the endeavor turned into a full fledged business. It’s a great story and one that is beautifully captured in the video above. If there there were a silver lining to the recession, David Sokosh and Brooklyn Watches are certainly part of that narrative.
Clothing should be as much about function as it is about style. That’s part of the philosophy behind the bike-commuter friendly label Outlier. Over the past several years the small upstart label has gained a cult following, not just among cyclists, but also by those that appreciate an approach to designing clothes that places equal importance on both looking good and functioning well. This past week I took a trip out to Brooklyn to visit Outlier’s design studio and headquarters to see just how things work at Outlier.
“One well considered object can take the place of many cheaply made ones.”
The company’s loft in Williamsburg is part R&D lab, design center, shipping depot and warehouse all in one. It’s a bright space filled with energy and a sense of purpose. Tyler and Abe both have a strong feeling for the company’s mission and they seem purposeful in their undertaking. As we talked and looked through a rack of current products (and some soon to be released items), the stack of outgoing packages continued to grow and grow as sales for the day added up. According to Outlier, there is strong customer loyalty and the instance of repeat orders is often. As someone that has worn a pair of Outlier pants, this is a statement not difficult to believe.
This past Sunday I paid a visit to the Brooklyn studio of artist Bailey Hunter Robinson. You might remember Bailey from one of my Brimfield posts this past summer, when I caught him lying on the grass trying to escape the mid-day flea market heat. Upon arrival in Brooklyn I explained to Bailey that I was the guy who took his photo that hot summer day while he was trying to get some shade. “I’m sorry for taking your picture and putting on my site. I remember at the time you didn’t seem too happy about me taking the picture.” I said as I took off my coat and set my gear on the worn wood floors of Bailey’s new studio. “Oh it was fine. I was really hot that day and I was losing my ass up there, I don’t think I had sold a thing at that point.” he said. Such are the ways at Brimfield on hot summer days I suppose.
Bailey’s interest in furniture, vintage objects and things like Brimfield can be traced back to the influence of his parents while growing up in a small town in Alabama. “My parents were huge collectors of early English stuff, big oil paintings and things like that.” he said. It was this interest and his friendship with Luke Scarola (who co-owns the vintage furniture shop in Brooklyn called Luddite) that has helped shape the aesthetic of Bailey’s studio. “Luke and I used to drive five hours to go to an auction and they drive five hours home in one day. There were times when we were out and so exhausted that we couldn’t keep track of who bought what.”
On December 16th, 1960 a Trans World Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation collided midair over Brooklyn with a United Airlines Douglas DC-8. The T.W.A. flight — a slow moving propeller plane — was heading from Columbus, Ohio en route to LaGuardia. The other plane, a much more advanced jetliner, was destined for Idlewild airport (JFK) with 77 passengers from Chicago. Had he not been running late and missed the flight, passenger #78 on United 826 would have been Sir Edmund Hillary. All together, the crash killed 134 people, being one of the worst air disasters at the time. It is a fascinating story that was highlighted extremely well on the NY Times City Room blog.
This past Project trade show I had the pleasure of moderating a little panel of brands that are on the rise, one of which was the seemingly unstoppable The Brooklyn Circus. The brand started in 2006 as a store in Brooklyn, then expanded by opening an outpost in San Francisco and ultimately it launched a collection under its own BKc mark. I first met BKc founder Ouigi (Wee-g; pictured above) in Las Vegas (of all places) back in 2008. I was impressed with the man’s style back then and it seems things have only gotten better. The Brooklyn Circus is definitely doing their thing, not only creating great clothing (nearly all in the USA I should add), they are creating a movement and I am all for it. I like what BKc is doing more than almost anyone out there right now. Ouigi and the BKc are easily some of the best that ever did it, and I hope it continues. [The Brooklyn Circus]