It’s 2018, Amazon prime time, and I love that there are still brands that I can only buy in Japan. My running list: Rin Project, Danton, Anatomica, Beams x Fennica, Orcival and Rocky Mountain Featherbed. Obsession of the month: Rocky Mountain Featherbed (RMF) Six Month Vest (aside admiration for the slightly off kilter translation of RMF’s Japanese-English product names). What brings me back to Japan-only clothing are the fresh designs and build quality (even on everyday, less-than-luxe items). RMF, like all my fave brands, design products in dual lines sizes for men and women (rather than shoehorning everyone into unisex styles). Note: colorways are the same for men and women.
Rocky Mountain Featherbed Six Month down vest
Reinforcing twill tape and locker loop
Every garment has its own stuff sack
Matching down muffler
For gents, there is no shortage of chore coats in fascinating cuts and fabrics. Here are a few of my faves on offer (and on sale) from Mister Freedom (via Self Edge). Also, I need to know: who is this handsome, bearded, deadpan, denim fit model? What memory traces does he carry, having worn so many amazing, high dollar workwear garments over the years? What is his daily (after hours) uniform?
Mister Freedom Belleville – Covert Stripe
Mister Freedom Belleville Jacket – Covert Stripes
Mister Freedom Belleville Jacket
Mister Freedom Conductor Jacket
I spotted this patchwork chore coat from Tigre Brocante last Fall. Unfortunately, a half year later, the jacket (nicely styled for men and women), has disappeared from the site. You may not be able to buy this jacket, but you can still mimic the look. Check out Corridor’s Duck Dyed Overshirts (on sale) as a worthy, patch-free alternate. Pair w/Corridor Bucket Hat and Troentorp (mandatory style staple) for a seasonless, timeless, unisex ensemble.
I’m swooning over the French aviators (and their uniforms) found in a new Flickr album uploaded by archival image maven, Pillpat. Check it out, noting all the new-to-my-eyes, sartorial details: unique pullovers, cool tunics, curious collars, striped socks and military-duty clogs. Sign me up for any branch of service that issues such lovely off-duty garb (off-duty, in this case, consisting ofcafe confabs and larky posing for the camera). Marking these snaps as catalog fodder for my aspirational clothing company.
I’m tapped out after a trip to Japan. Nevertheless, I’m saving up my shekels for a new Danton chore coat. Danton, a French brand licensed for distribution in France, offers sturdy, unisex work clothing for men and women in staple fabrics including poplin, cotton, and now, sturdy moleskin. Danton, like Engineered Garments, produces a line of stock styles in a seasonal refresh of heritage fabrics. Find your Danton via Zozotown, Rakuten, or B-shop (a proxy shopping service like Sutocorp may be required).
It’s always fun to match a fave brand to its foreign, brick and mortar store. During my recent trip to Japan, I visited Cycles Grand Bois, a venerable bicycle company known for its elegant handlebars, polished bike parts, custom frames, and 650b tires. Thanks to a rando pal who knows how to navigate Google maps in Japanese, we found GB in a suburb of Kyoto. Trading shoes for slippers, we explored the main shop area and talked to the manager. The showroom space is cramped, with bikes packed in tight bunches on the main floor and auxiliary frames stacked in window display pyramids or hung from the rafters. I’m including a few snaps from my visit. Follow Grand Bois on Instagram for a more immersive view of the shop.
Rene Herse beauty
Vintage basket bike updated with a motor
Shop bikes stashed outside
Custom bike bell
Heddels asked me to identify my “item number one,” that is, the thing I’ve owned the longest (and still use semi-regularly). Read about my rare Filson Mackinaw Cruiser for women and follow the complete series here. And reference snaps below. What is your item number one?
Filson Mackinaw Cruiser with its rare cardigan fit
Minimal signs of wear after twenty years of hard wear
Original catalog copy from 1990
Filson Italy cruiser for women
Many of my Archival blog posts are intended to remind me, in a few years, of random and extraordinary web finds. As my attention diminishes and the web redoubles, I frequently find and than drop the thread of a super fruitful search string (typically ending in Japan). Here’s one I never want to forget: a South2 West8 tie dye bug net parka (and matching landing net).
Archival originated as a company in search of the perfect musette. Like many businesses, we started making bags because we couldn’t find the ones that we wanted to buy. But now, musettes are everywhere. Here’s a tidy little example from the company that made my custom bicycle, Vanilla. I spotted these a month ago on the Vanilla blog but they seem to have disappeared. Love the mixed use of fabrics, bi-tonal patterning and print graphics. I’ll definitely snap one up during the next restock.
Click over to Heddels to read my latest Ward Order Blank column: Duckbill Dynasty – the Cap We Want Back. Here are some of the photos of caps I collected during the research phase of writing this piece.
Original Archival designer, Tom Bonamici, models a Filson shelter cloth duckbill.
One of my faves: Filson short billed cap in tin cloth. The leather sweatband and fitted style sadly disappeared in the last generation of these caps.
Handsome cap shape looks terrific from above.
Not a duckbill, but I dug a little into the history of caps used in the film, Empire of the Sun.
WW2 issue summer flying cap. I love the numerical markings on the brim (a tradition worth bringing back?).
David Mamet movies are peppered with duckbill caps. Gene Hackman sporting a Quaker Marine cap in Heist (2001).
Military issues morphed into hunting headgear in the 1950s and 1960s.
Cavalcade of stars – Filson duckbill lineup in the cap style’s salad days. Merino, poplin, and waxed cotton versions all on offer. Ah, to go back in time and buy them all up.