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.
Here is a sunny game changer from Yarmo (UK workwear brand by way of Japan): band collar shirt for men and women w/back pleat and patch pockets. Shouldn’t all shirts have functional pocketing? Find your Yarmo here: https://item.rakuten.co.jp/takanna/yar-17aw-s1/…
In the late ’80s and ’90s, field coats ruled the casual heritage market (before heritage had a name). Affordable, stylish, canvas duck options (heavily pocketed and trimmed in fine wale corduroy) could be found through LL Bean, JCrew, and a slew of lesser known, hunting supply catalogs (including Cabela’s, which was much less the sprayfoam mall behoumeth it is today). I was always partial to the wool lined Bean model (which merited the “vintage” tag if you inherited one of the earlier, short cut, solid melton wool lined models from you pop). I ended up with a socialized ’90s edition if the Bean Field Coat which had clearly given up the ghost of pocketing any rusty barn nails or a bloody ducks. Friends in grad school came to the style through the rebadged and semi ubiquitous “barn coats” sold through Jcrew (in mustards and tomato reds). We’re so deep into a denim decade right now that it’s hard to imagine an era when canvas duck ruled as the casual jacket fabric du jour. Could we see its corduroy trimmed return in 2020?
Special Hunting World model. Wondering who made it?
The Library of Congress flickr stream yields some of the best historic examples of shawl collar cardigans. During a periodic review, I surfaced these 1918 scans of baseball player Mike Donlin sporting a very heavy gauge cardigan with an unusual throat latch detail. I’m not a baseball fan, but I can’t get enough of these Bain News Service photos of players and coaches from this very stylish era. The players dress like spectactors (in sweaters, blazers, leather shoes, and collared shirts) and the spectators are dressed for the symphony. I’d love to know more about about the knitwear makers who produced these athletic sweaters and the story behind that throat latch feature (something that I never see on modern examples).
I tried watching the 2016 Tour de France but lost interest after the first week. I miss the panache and personal style of cyclists from the past. Now, I can barely distinguish one game piece from the next (logos, lego shaped helmets and mirrored shades drown out the personalities of the individual riders. I much prefer the era of leather hairnets, wool jerseys, lace up cycling shoes, Campagnolo parts, and steel bike frames with pinstripe detailing around the lugs or chrome forks and seat stays. In lieu of a $29 streaming media packaging, I’m now browsing through vintage European matchstick covers from my favorite print ephemera archivist, Pillpat. Head over to her vintage matchbox and matchboxes set on flickr to pick the riders for your own personal peloton.
Browsing through photos of female war workers from WW2, I can’t help but lament the loss of the classic, wide legged, high waisted dungaree.
While there are limitless repro and throwback heritage offerings for men (Mister Freedom and Sugar Cane always deliver) it is nearly impossible to find contemporary trousers for women in this style. Dickies 1922, Carhartt, Levi’s and Filson have produced, on again, off again, trousers for women (with light nods to historic design details). Gamine, a new brand on the block, sells a lovey cinchback trouser, that nearly looks like something you would find in a WPA photograph. However, it is rare to see a major denim brand offering a model that dares to be as audacious in voluminous dimensions, and as high waisted, as those original, government issue trousers. Revisiting a favorite flickr set from from the Library of Congress, 1930-40s in color, to remind myself of what dungarees look like in native environs, as a default (and perfunctory) uniform.