Many of these scenes are familiar and many of these places are known, but that doesn’t make and of this less striking. Photographer Christopher Payne set out to capture the landscapes and workrooms of America’s textile mills and factories. The scenes are intense and colorful, and may very well serve as a time-capsule portrait of an industrial complex which is nearing its last run. These photos and the photographer came to my attention recently through ‘Fruit of the Loom‘, a recent New York Times Magazine photo essay. This textile photo series began when Christopher “stumbled on an old yarn mill in Maine” and was inspired by the old machinery and the small-scale manufacturing that is largely forgotten in America. Payne visits Woolrich in Pennsylvania, New England Shirt in Fall River and various other mills in-between, seeking the beautiful colors and symmetrical scenes that these seeming lost industrial holdovers present.
His name has been mentioned on this site before, but it bears repeating: Dana Gleason. He founded Kletterwerks in the 70s, then created (and eventually sold) the infamous backpack behemoth Dana Design. Since 2000 he’s been designing and hand-building backpacks in Bozeman, Montana under the name Mystery Ranch. They are the best packs he’s ever made and arguably some of the best packs available for purchase. Decades of research and experience go into each model and they are all absolute workhorses. Every Mystery Ranch pack is designed specifically for the unique tasks required of soldiers, firefighters, rescue professionals, hunters and mountain climbers.
This winter I bought a Mystery Ranch ASAP daypack for steelhead fishing in the Northwest. I stared into my closet full of canvas totes, weekend duffels and clever work briefcases and realized I had nothing that was suitable for hiking and bushwhacking into coastal steelhead streams with enough room for a day’s worth of extra layers, a lunch, a first aid kit, fly boxes and other fishing tackle. After a bit of research I landed at Mystery Ranch. What sold me on the ASAP was not only the waterproof 3-Zip design, but also the internal pocket configuration that takes the guess work out of accessing gear when it’s open. It has a built-in large hydration port, a grid of PAL webbing for lashing on an additional rod case and comes in 3 standard sizes and 4 colors options – multicam, black, coyote and foliage.
There’s an unwritten rule on ACL where I try and make a point of not doing overtly obnoxious blogger things – though I’m sure some find me overtly obnoxious nonetheless. I attempt to avoid posting pictures of myself on this site and I don’t actively post any sort of press coverage that I am fortunate enough to get. Part of the reason I avoid this stuff is because I don’t want this site to be about me per se, I want the focus to be on the truly interesting and deserving people, places and stories that are out in the world. Though recently I have been struggling internally about going against my self-prescribed code to post a video that involves me in a roundabout way. Ultimately, I decided that the benefits for the subject of the video outweigh the possibilities an appearance of a self-congratulatory blogger parade.
Chris Hughes from Omaha, Nebraska struggled himself, though in a much more real way. He grappled with the recession spending the better part of a year being unemployed or underemployed. During this troubling time of his life he started to focus energy making leather goods, bags and aprons on the side. He hoped to transform his hobby into a business and take a massive leap of faith to leave his job with health insurance to work on his company Artifact Bag Co. full time. In December of 2010 he did just that and has been building Artifact ever since. In a TEDx talk in Omaha he recently gave a speech (see video above) about a tweet and our brief encounter that changed his life.
Anyone that reads this site and owns a dog will appreciate this story and this new brand. Having suffered long enough with the limited options of well-made dog gear, the good people of Tom Bihn in Seattle have recently introduced Skookum Dog, its new line of U.S. made collars, leads, beds, bags and toys for man’s best friend. Having personally stood in several pet stores and wished there were not only more domestically sourced options, but simply better-made stuff for dogs that will actually last longer than an afternoon, this new collection is a welcome addition. There are other brands like Filson and Tanner Goods out there that make some great stuff for dogs, but it’s nice to also see Skookum Dog enter the fray.
Philadelphia based sporting goods maker Mitchell & Ness highlights the production of its Authentic and highly covet-able on-field varsity jackets and wool jerseys at the family owned knitwear company Dehen in Portland, Oregon. A long time maker of American high school varsity jackets and jerseys, Dehen has been making the real-deal stuff since 1920.
Over the past few years I have had the chance to visit Dehen in Oregon on several occasions to see the factory which includes a few amazing old knitwear machines that make the super heavy-gauge knits that, along with the varsity jackets, are the company’s calling card. Also coming down the production line is quite a bit of custom work from high schools all over the United States, which is how the company has managed to survive this long. The cheer leading and Varsity sports niche production now parallels the Mitchell & Ness Cooperstown Collection items and the stuff Dehen sells under its own name. All I can say is, Fuck Yeah Made in USA.
There was a time not too long ago when if you wanted to go shopping in New York City, all you needed to know was Madison, Soho, or Fifth. Over the past year or so though, as this city’s clothing compulsion has grown into an everlasting rolling boil, these once sharply defined boundaries have become obsolete, transforming Manhattan (for better or for worse) into a veritable urban mall.
Check that mall’s map and you’ll notice that Elizabeth Street in Nolita is now stacked with upstarts and standbys including Alex Mill, Steven Alan and the new Todd Snyder City Gym, among others, forming one of the most respectable blocks in the New York retail scene. Of all the openings on Elizabeth over the past year, few have been more fitting than Schott, one of New York City’s most legendary labels.
The Elizabeth Street store is a homecoming of sorts for Schott, bringing the brand back to its downtown roots, just a stones throw from their original East Broadway headquarters. It was there that brothers Irving and Jack Schott first crafted their eponymous coats back in 1913, and in the hundred years since, Schott has become the preeminent name in American leather jackets. Along the way, the brand has become a vital part of American style as we know it, gracing the backs of icons like James Dean, Marlon Brando, Peter Fonda, The Ramones, and Keith Haring, just to name a few.
Brass snaps imported from Japan. Horween leather details from Chicago. Italian Styling.
Reading off this laundry list of clothing components, you might be thinking to yourself that I’m describing some designer parka that’s all glory, without the guts. I’m happy to report that this is furthest thing from the truth, in fact, looking at the pair of vests from this Archival Clothing x Crescent Down Works tie-up, you’d be more likely to say something along the lines of “that’s it?” But, I’d go as far as to say that that’s the point, as AC and CDW have created two vests that prove that function will always override fashion.