Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Archive for March, 2009

Shopping from the UK: Ventile Jackets

March 31st, 2009




Each Spring, I start taking measurements for a custom order Hilltrek ventile cycling jacket. But by mid-April, the choice of features (single or double ventile?), sizing crises, my austerity matrix (see below) and fear of overseas shipping costs stop me from placing my final order. I always console myself by imagining that I will one day visit Hilltrek on some larky Archival Clothing business trip and purchase my a made-to-measure jacket in person.

For those who don’t know, Ventile is a miracle, heritage fabric that repels water like waxed cotton but vents like a synthetic. Barbour used to sell a ventile “Endurance” jacket and Hebden Cord offered ventile breeks. But Hilltrek now seems to be the main, remaining purveyor of ventile outdoor clothing in the US or UK.

My idealized version of the Hilltrek cycling jacket would be a short waisted jacket in single layer ventile. It goes without saying that I love the Hilltrek jacket’s two-way zipper, zip-up map pocket and overall, sleek fit.

Archivist John A. just sent me some detail shots of his own new ventile jacket which activated my Hilltrek made-to-order form filling frenzy a month early.

*Austerity matrix (working version): Will item still be available in three years? If yes–delay purchase. Will I wear item more than 3x a week? If yes–move forward with purchase. Could I wait three weeks before placing my order? If yes–cancel order. Does item cost more than $300–if yes, delay purchase. Unless the answer to three of the four questions is no (or is it the reverse?), I postpone my purchase (typically leading to a complete erasure of the consumer impulse and subsequent regret that the item is no longer available for sale–or company has subsequently gone out of business). I think a point total would help better sort out the system.

An item that would not pass review through my austerity matrix but deserves visual representation:

Hilltrek Ventile Poncho



Shopping from Olympic National Park

March 26th, 2009

Evidence that perfectly realized heritage collections for women, including belts, breeks, hats, jackets, shirts, boots and accessory ukuleles have already been manufactured, marketed and buried in the past.

Archival Anoraks

March 26th, 2009

And a possible, future Archival Clothing production number:

Shawl Collar Review

March 26th, 2009

“Durable as Grandma’s Knitting”
Montgomery Ward Winner

I’m moving into the planning phase of my all wool sweater project. Based on blog and email feedback, I’m working on a collaborative design for a shawl collar cardigan. As part of my research, I’m collecting images of model shawl collar styles and sweaters (from image archives, film stills, period print advertisements, online shops). Let me know which version/s you prefer. Also, please email me related web links and favorite sweater examples (living or dead).

A.

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F.

G.

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I

Two historical examples not in consideration:

Coup de Grace (Schlondorff 1976)

Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen 1986)

And in a related note, here’s a sobering post from Chris Bray of BillyKirk on the closure of Baron Woolen Mills of Brigham City, Utah .

Guest Baggage: Frost River Canoe Packs

March 25th, 2009





Albert Dorp, who sells Frost River packs through his German web shop, Absolut Canoe, sent me some shots of his Frost River packs in action. Albert tells me that he does not have any additional news about the fate of Frost River as a company. However, his shop still has inventory of Frost River packs (including my favorite, the Vintage Pack). He also noted, in an odd twist, that he just shipped out two packs to a customer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, birthplace of Frost River.

Please send along any news, notes or waxed cotton gossip about Frost River. For example, will Frost River revive their business in 2009? Will Duluth Pack introduce their own line of waxed cotton canoe packs (no dry finish canvas, please)? Will Rivendell, Filson or Billykirk introduce a waxed cotton rucksack in the style of a traditional canoe pack? Is there a third party manufacturer out there sketching up their own design for a staple canoe pack?

For the sake of nostalgia, here’s a cameo shot of a canoe pack (by Duluth?) from the Engineered Garment’s 2005 Fall/Winter line.
On the subject of waxed cotton luggage, see Adam A/Zugster’s new waxed canvas backpack on flickr. I like the large, streamlined front pocket and webbing grid. I prefer my bags with leather straps and metal buckles, but for this type of cycling-courier bag I understand Adam’s decision to go with quick release plastic buckles and nylon straps.

Guest Baggage: Frost River Canoe Packs

March 24th, 2009





Albert Dorp, who sells Frost River packs through his German web shop, Absolut Canoe, sent me some shots of his Frost River packs in action. Albert tells me that he does not have any additional news about the fate of Frost River as a company. However, his shop still has inventory of Frost River packs (including my favorite, the Vintage Pack). He also noted, in an odd twist, that he just shipped out two packs to a customer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, birthplace of Frost River.

Please send along any news, notes or waxed cotton gossip about Frost River. For example, will Frost River revive their business in 2009? Will Duluth Pack introduce their own line of waxed cotton canoe packs (no dry finish canvas, please)? Will Rivendell, Filson or Billykirk introduce a waxed cotton rucksack in the style of a traditional canoe pack? Is there a third party manufacturer out there sketching up their own design for a staple canoe pack?

For the sake of nostalgia, here’s a cameo shot of a canoe pack (by Duluth?) from the Engineered Garment’s 2005 Fall/Winter line.
On the subject of waxed cotton luggage, see Adam A/Zugster’s new waxed canvas backpack on flickr. I like the large, streamlined front pocket and webbing grid. I prefer my bags with leather straps and metal buckles, but for this type of cycling-courier bag I understand Adam’s decision to go with quick release plastic buckles and nylon straps.

Archival Mitts: Dachstein/Ortovox

March 23rd, 2009
Boiled Wool Dachstein Mitts

Sample view

Lynne F’s glove system (refab mitts with Dachstein liners)

Artic Mitten

Add German made, Dachstein (rebadged Ortovox) shrunken wool mitts to the list of disappearing archival products. Ten years ago, you could purchase these heavy duty mitts (a layering staple for mountaineers and ice climbers) at REI. Now, if you want a pair, you must mail order them from the UK/Germany or conduct a pleading email correspondence with US distributor Ortovox. Most of the message boards and google searches suggest vendor links that are either broken or out of business.

The Mountaineer in Keene Valley, NY, carries the Ortovox Arctic mitts. This is the only available style of mitts I could locate in the US (in my size).

Archival Review: Filson Knitwear

March 19th, 2009


Discontinued Filson Cardigan
If I ever earn a spot on Filson’s Council for Women (an advisory and field testing group), I’d recommend that Filson introduce a line of made-in-USA knitwear for women (and slim-framed gents).

Filson currently offers only one sweater for women–the snowflake and deer patterned Cowichan.

The first installment in my knitwear collection for women would be a scaled down version of the Outfitter sweater. Although a few other US outdoor clothing companies offer a heavy duty, all wool waterfowling pullover, none match the overbuilt quality of the Filson Outfitter.

Side note: the nearest commercial match to the Outfitter sweater would be the McAlister Duration Waterfowl sweater (if you like your waxed cotton in an Advantage Camo pattern) or the McAlister Duration 3-button version (at $149.00, an attractive option for an austerity shopper in the standard S-XXXL size range).

In addition to bringing out a new women’s Outfitter sweater, I’d reintroduce a modernized version of Filson’s (discontinued) worsted wool cardigan. My updated version would have an overall slimmer fit with narrower sleeves (no balloon arms), shorter body length (avoiding the bathrobe effect) and a much higher buttoning neck (no deep V-neck cardigans for me) . I’d also remove the suede shooting patches or swap them out for waxed cotton. The final sweater might look something like this:

Although many commercial knitting mills have gone out of business in the Northwest, I’m optimistic that Filson is still having their US-made sweaters manufactured in the region. Out of curiosity, does anyone know who does the contract knitting for Filson?

Visual addendum for Filson:

Shopping from Television: Equestrian Training Ensembles (Mad Men: Season 2)

March 13th, 2009



Betty Draper’s riding instructor (Mad Men: Season Two)

Like the rest of the world, I love Mad Men. But for me, it’s a snow globe world I want to watch but not occupy. Last week, I caught an easy-to-miss view of Betty Draper’s riding instructor in the first episode of the second season (“For Those Who Think Young”). For the first time, I could actually see myself wearing one of the show’s on-camera outfits (and further, recognize a plausible profession for me in the early 1960s). Here, I love how the instructor mixes her plaids, belts her shirt and sports an accessory neckerchief and worn fedora (not sure what she’s wearing under the hat–another scarf, perhaps?). The look is so distinctive (and semi-eccentric) that I’m wondering if it was inspired by a horsey celebrity (Hepburn?) or specific photograph. Overall, the ensemble and instructor are so antithetical to the sleek stylistic system of the show that it only merits one second or so of screen time. As it were, I could barely coax my digital video recorder to pause on the ensemble long enough to take a photo (the DVR kept pitching me forward to the next shot of a slick gent on horseback).

Filson Mackinaw Cruiser (vintage women’s version)

Heritage Collections for Women?

March 13th, 2009
Blueprint for future use
From the Montgomery Ward 1949-1950 catalog
Aside from a few collections and reports to the contrary, the heritage clothing revival has yet to make its way to the female consumer.

Sometimes I think I’m the only woman admiring all the beautiful, Americana inspired sportswear, footwear and accessories featured on blogs like A Continuous Lean and h(y)r collective, etc.

Last Spring 2008, Filson launched their collection for women (a nice effort save for the “peach poplin” blend fabrics and a few unfortunate cut and color choices). Barbour, Carhartt, Beretta and John Partridge all now market outdoor (albeit, activity specific) clothing to women. But beyond this short list (plus a few others, of course), most US and UK heritage brands assume an all male audience for their product lines. Red Wing, a company known for offering shoes and boots in a wide range of sizes, starts sizing for their “Lifestyle Heritage Range” range at 7. Although Red Wing sells smaller sizes to the Japanese market, there are no plans to bring them to the US. Why is the heritage line not being sized to fit a broader market of women and gents with smaller feet? I put the same question to Filson since they have been deflecting requests for footwear for women since the men’s line was introduced in the 1990s.

Even cycling brands like Rapha, Swobo and Showers Pass, all known for non-mainstream designs, reserve their new vintage/”old school” outerwear collections for men only. For examples, see Rapha’s tweed softshell or the Showerspass Portland jacket which are all sized to edit out (all but the most robust) women. On the Swobo website, the pulldown menu for men lists organic cotton, wool and waxed cotton jackets (beyond the staple cycling clothing offerings). The women’s menu offers a few bland selection of jersyes and cotton shorts–but no waxed cotton or wool outerwear. No demand?

All I’m asking for is modern access to the teenage sportswear department of 1949 Montgomery Ward cataog. Those three pages (shown above) contain everything I need, if ordered in multiples, to get me through to my first retirement check: pinwale corduroy and gabardine shirts, glen plaid slacks, denim dungaries, new wool turtleneck pullovers, a nice pea coat and/or a donegal wool “abbreviated storm jacket.” Loafers and jophur boot appear to be the default style of footwear.

You’ll note that the Montgomery Ward catalog items do not default to the easy “feminizing” of overt/excessive pleating, hourglass paneling and terrible color selections of some heritage products resized/restyled for women.

Given how trends shake out, reverberation style, I anticipate nods to the heritage movement in the mainstream Gap and JCREW collections for women in the next year. Any speculation on how they might play out on a literal level? What I’m anticipating is the trace appearance of heritage styling, for example, in the form of models wearing alpine climbing boots with red laces, etc.

Before we get the heritage knock-offs and next generation homages for women, I’d love to see the reissue of a few more first generation originals.
Ginger Rogers and friends in 1937 (from Ginger Roger: My Story)