At one point during my visit to her Garment District showroom, Chiharu Hayashi, the designer behind Bags in Progress, describes her bags as tool totes for everyday life. As she says this, Chiharu gleefully picks up one of her bags to show me how each interior has a specific purpose. One pocket is for an iPad, another is cut specifically fit a Moleskin, and one of the side slots is perfectly proportioned for a pair of sunglasses. A place for everything, and for everything a place.
Can clothing be spiritual? Can a single brand make you see the light?
As both a consumer and commentator of clothing, we’ve been plagued by a series of nagging questions lately. Why another brand? Why does this brand deserve my attention? And for that matter, why do they deserve my money? These questions can raise doubts in the mind of even the most levelheaded observer, and after a while it becomes tough to discern if you like something simply because it’s new, or if you like something because it’s actually worth your admiration.
That distinction, between something novel and something noteworthy, was made crystal clear to me as we leafed through Pilgrim Surf Supply’s twelve piece debut collection. Admittedly, at first glance, PSS’s offering is not striking, but this was a deliberate decision by their design team. The palate is derived from Pilgrim’s shoreside roots, most notably the sun-burnt oranges and washed out blues that appear on a variety of pieces throughout the collection. On its face, the collection evokes visions of salty beaches and cresting waves, which is a predictable aesthetic for one of New York’s only surf shops, but it’s what lies below these washed out colors that elevate the collection beyond a simple store collection.
At the Pop Up Flea this weekend, Red Wing Heritage is launching two new and exclusive (never before sold in the U.S.) styles. Inspired by Red Wing Heritage’s style no. 101, known as The Postman. Originally developed to meet U.S. Postal Service requirements, The Postman style is probably best known for being featured in an iconic advertisement by Norman Rockwell. After many years of status quo, the Postman shape is getting a much desired update. and just in time for summer.
More details about these two new Red Wing styles:
For the first time since 1954, Red Wing is expanding this style. The new Postman are built with the same features as style no. 101, including a dog tail, blind eyelets and Goodyear Welt. They are crafted with premium leathers made at Red Wing’s own S.B. Foot tannery. The cushion crepe outsole gives these boots as much comfort as the original shoe.
At the end of a walk through of the Tanner Goods workshop in Portland, co-founder Sam Huff gave me a beautifully-made ceramic coffee mug. It was cold outside and a cup of hot coffee in a nice mug was not something that was overlooked. Sam sort of casually mentioned that he and his wife and a group of others had been working on this new ceramic company and I should check it out. This on top of building the Tanner Goods empire, I was definitely intrigued. What I learned is that the hand-made line of Mazama ceramics is the result of an amalgamation of six designers, artists and craftspeople including Huff, Meghan Wright, Meagan Geer, Tory Cross, Casey Keasler and Connie Wohn. Everything is shaped, fired and glazed in a studio Portland, Oregon.
It’s hard to explain, but fine ceramics have always been intriguing to me. Those in Korea and Japan take this art to the highest heights and it’s hard to go there and not appreciate the beauty, simplicity and craft that goes into their ceramics. Not to say America doesn’t have a strong tradition in ceramics. One of the best known brands is Heath and nearly every time I am in LA I make a point to spend an hour at the company’s shop on Beverly. Most of the time I just go to look, seeing as I thoroughly intrigued by the company’s California-made creations. A few years ago I met Adam Silverman in the studio at Heath and have been a fan of his ever since. I’ve come to appreciate the fact that ceramics occupy an interesting place between art and everyday object.
The current New Balance mania that’s cutting through the sneaker world like a Vibram soled tornado has all the makings of a lost Malcolm Gladwell case study. What exactly was the tipping point that launched NB’s from average schmo staple to fodder for the insatiable menswear masses? I’ll leave that one for Gladwell’s next book, but I will say that New Balance has done an exemplary job at embracing their new-found market. Sure, those old school, all grey sneaks that the Costanza’s of the world used to wear still remain their most popular models, but over the past couple years NB has revamped their classic running shoes to create some damn fine, and for that matter, flashy, designs. It seems that every week New Balance seems to drop another “banger” (that’s what sneakerheads are saying these days right?) so we decided to round up the eight best releases of the past year.
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.