Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Posts Tagged ‘archival review’

Review: Dickies x Palmer Trading 1953 Jean

July 27th, 2012

Dickies 1922 has been, yet again, very generous to us. This time our care package contained a pair of denim designed in collaboration with New York’s Palmer Trading Co.

I’m loving these jeans since they use a stout 13.5 ounce Cone denim and don’t bother with using selvage, which – let’s be frank – is largely decorative. When’s the last time your jeans gave out by unraveling at the side seam?

Great contrast stitching but nothing unnecessary or fancy. Rivet reinforcements where they’re needed. Laser-sharp sewing throughout.

The fit is said to be spot-on 1953. I do love the relatively high waist, though I wouldn’t say no to a bit more room in the thigh for my biker legs. Compare to these gents from a 1950 Ward’s catalog, who seem like they’re rocking a slightly straighter cut.

I gave these a wash and air-dry, and they didn’t shrink more than half an inch in the waist. Excellent – I definitely think that Sanforizing denim is a good thing. Washability is part of practicality in my book!
My only complaint is the intense vanity sizing – my waist measures 34″, but I had to get a pair of size 30s. I know that’s par for the course for many denim brands, so it’s less a complaint regarding these jeans than with (cough) a well-entrenched status quo. But I keep hoping that someone will take a stand and make their pants true to size! Seems odd to use a rational system irrationally. In the meantime, call Palmer, check measurements, and snag a pair soon – limited quantities!

Guest Review: Chimala Chambray Shirt

August 4th, 2011

by Tiffany Thornton


I’ve been brand-stalking Chimala for a while now (via Lark: Chimala was started in 2006 by a Japanese designer, and is named for an imaginary mountain in the Himalayas… The brand concept is new vintage casual with a touch of “good old days” feeling. The design inspirations and sources are mostly from the 1940’s through to the 1970’s daily wear. The universal design often seen in military work wear is given a modern twist.)

Slightly contrasting chest pockets

After mulling it over for some time (Chimala is very expensive; about $400 CD for a shirt gave me about a year’s worth of pause) I decided to pick up a Chimala chambray work shirt from Lark. I pestered the kind folks at Lark for about a day and a half on sizing (I am small of frame, but have broad shoulders), and then made my purchase and hoped for the best. Despite being slightly uncomfortable with dropping that much on a single shirt, I have not regretted the purchase one bit.

Yellow stitched pencil slot

The chambray work shirt I picked up recently is apparently produced each season with different details each time. The details that sold me on this Spring ’11 version were: the slightly contrasting chest pocket, the contrast blue button, and the yellow stitched “pencil slot” on the pocket. The material is a pale blue chambray that is light, but not flimsy, and thus far seems to breathe well. Perfect for wearing to work in the Spring and Fall. The color is versatile, and could go with just about anything; I prefer to pair it with some brown corduroy trousers for the time being. It is also something of a relief to me that the Chimala medium size fits about perfectly: most button downs always seem to fit awkwardly on me because short torso + broad shoulders = unaccounted for by most clothing manufacturers.



Each season the Chimala shirt is made with new distressing and detailing

In general, I’m very pleased with this shirt: it is well crafted, attractive, comfortable and versatile. The major downside is the prohibitively high cost, but if it’s an issue that can be rectified, I certainly would recommend checking out Chimala if you’re in the market for something new.

Rolltop Review

June 16th, 2011

I picked up a large Seal Line roll top backpack with my REI dividend. Made in the USA, it’s roomy and well-made. Since it’s made of nylon, many of the joints are welded rather than sewn, a bit unsettling but no doubt stronger than a stitch.

While I loved the massive capacity and no-brainer roll top closure, I must admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the bag.

The back panel looks like it would keep you cool, but my back got just as sweaty under this pack than any other, including our own.

Also, the outside pocket was difficult to access due to a cramped size and stiff zipper. I ended up leaving it open most of the time, and even so, it was tough to reach inside. Furthermore, I wonder why they put the daisy chain on a side of the bag rather than the center – when the bag is full, your bike light ends up blinking more to the side than the rear.

Finally, the extremely stiff material and sharp corners of the rolled top meant that my over-the-shoulder view (to check for cars) was blocked, which was downright scary.

I appreciate that the bag is made in the USA, but it’s not the one for me!

Archival Review: Left Field Ivy Crew

January 4th, 2011

Bing Crosby wearing a wide crew neck sweatshirt in Going My Way (1944)

In November, friend and AC supporter Bradley Bennett of CWAC emailed to see if we’d like to field test a Left Field Ivy Style wide crew neck sweater. Like our own Skookum shawl collar sweaters, the Left Field Crew is knit, cut and sewn in a single facility in the U.S.

While the Left Field crew is marketed to gents, it’s trim fitting enough that the women of AC were able to handle the review. Our test sweater came in size 36, the smallest available. Petite women and slim gents might petition Left Field for a size 34.
Here’s a detail view of the sweater’s most visually arresting feature — its vintage-style, wide crew collar. Wool and knitting expert Erin noted that the raglan sleeves were mostly likely seamed together with a sewn-on ribbed collar which she identifies as “very old-school athletic wear construction.”

Red stitching from the garment tag shows through the back of the sweater. Given our own history with red thread, I like this detail.

In addition to the vintage collar detail, the Left Field crew is most notable for its soft merino wool. The sweater is made from a worsted, Canadian merino yarn in a heavier than average gauge. Left Field no doubt sourced merino for its soft, itch free properties. Although I love feel of a soft merino, I do worry about its potential for pilling. My own preference is for a longer stapled wool yarns that exhibit both durability and softness.
Tester Sara wore the Left Field sweater to work over a Made in USA Splendid turtleneck. She deemed the sweater “cozy” and liked the fit, especially the long slim arms with ribbed cuffs. Coworkers admired the crew neck collar.

At Archival, we endorse clothing that is well made, best quality, locally manufactured and reasonably priced. The Left Field crew is currently on sale for $148 through the Left Field web shop. This is a good deal for a domestically produced, heritage sweater. I hope to see future editions of the Ivy crew made available in a more robust yarn. And our female testers would like to see the sweater offered down to a size 34 or 32. Otherwise, this sweater is a nearly perfect reissue of a classic style.

Archival Shocker: Heritage Footwear for Women

October 13th, 2010

Work and safety footwear from 1949
Wolverine 1000 Mile boot for women

Full disclosure:Wolverine sent me women’s shoes and boots from the Wolverine 1000 Mile Collection for review.Since I primarily shop from defunct companies or out of print catalogs, this was a happy turn of events.Even without testing, I can highly endorse the Wolverine 1000 Mile collection as a rare example of heritage footwear offered for women without compromise in design or build quality. Like the original version for gents, the Wolverine Collection for women is made in the USA and is based on the same original 1000 Mile boot pattern.Both shoe and boot styles are made from Horween Chromexcel leather (an A.C. favorite) and are constructed on a women’s last with a stitched Goodyear welt.

Catalogs in the 30s and 40s sold this style of boot for farm and heavy duty outdoor wear. Sizes were offered for both men and women. Price point was determined by quality of leather and method of construction. In 2010, the traditional work boot is a rarified, special edition style selling at a premium price point in menswear specialty shops (or in Japan). We’d love to see more of these classic, stylish, well built, American boots made available to the general public.

Some use notes and photos:


Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots for women on test
When I first received them, I immediately had Cat’s Paw protective rubber half soles affixed to the bottoms of my new shoes by a local Eugene cobbler, Baker’s. The climate here in Oregon is wet and it’s treacherous to walk tiled hallways or to bicycle w/full leather soles.

In my field testing, I’ve found that I prefer the boots since their look is more classic and they work better w/my stove pipe trouser legs. I would say that the sizing is generous. I normally wear a women’s 8.5 wide and both boots and shoes fit a little on the loose side – in the width. However, with midweight wool socks, the boots fit well and are extremely comfortable.

I’ve been wearing both the boots and the shoes in rotation. After sporting loafers and camp mocs for so many months, I had forgotten how much support and structure a traditional work boot provides. Steel shanks, solid arch support and leather heel counters have virtually disappeared from modern footwear. Though the Wolverine boots were originally designed for heavy outdoor use, they break in and become comfortable for urban applications like office work or even shopping.

My main critique of the boots is the choice of an antiqued brass finish for the hardware (eyelets and speed laces). Wolverine may have chosen antique brass as a way to signal that the boot design is vintage–something from the past. I’d prefer a normal (shiny) brass finish that would show my own history of wear and aging.

Solid brass hardware. I’d prefer a non “antiqued” finish.Star rivets. Stitching detail. Gusseted tongue.

The Addie wingtips are sleek, modern, classic without being gratuitously feminized. I love the contrast stitching along the welt. For my own purposes, I’d prefer the oxford in dark brown. I challenge you to show me one other US company producing a classic, US made, low top oxford for women in top quality materials. These used to be standard issue.

Leather stacked sole (great for keeping your foot on a pedal)
Leather sole (pre-Cat’s Paw installation)

Handstitching on sole of shoe. I do wish the stitching were recessed into a channel to prevent wear.

Example of recessed stitching on a pair of Tim Little brogues

Favorite detail: hard rubber sole. You never see these on modern shoes for women.
For interested parties, Wolverine 1000 Mile boots and shoes for women are currently available at Leffot (http://www.leffot.com/) in NYC. Leffot will do phone orders and ship anywhere in the world. We’d love to see these shoes and boots become available in brick and mortar stores on the West Coast.

A now a word from our sponsors:

Archival Review: Thorogood Boots

August 11th, 2010

We’ve been working with Weinbrenner, the parent company of Thorogood, to digitize some of their company archives. There’s some tremendous material in there. We’d love to have the power to just point at a few boot examples and have them re-issued (we’re working on it). Click to enlarge these great scans.




Of course, the Japanese are already on it.


Apparently the Roofer boot (above, still available) is very popular over there, and here’s a vintage boot in a recent issue of GO OUT STYLE.

Until we can have pristine reproductions of historical Thorogood boots, we’ll have to make do with their present-day offerings (which include some work boots and shoes which can be sized for women). Unfortunately, most of Thorogood’s line is… very technical, using more ballistic nylon and SWAT aesthetics than full grain leather and low-profile soles. Weinbrenner manufactured shoes and boots for CC Filson so we’re confident in their capacity to execute more archival styles. I’m pleased to report that their 6″ Moc Toe is completely worthy of its heritage. My pair have excelled in every way.

They’re made in Weinbrenner’s factory in Merrill, Wisconsin, from American-tanned leather. The worksmanship is tidy, although the star rivets holding the speed lacing studs on have sharp ends (but that’s only noticeable when you pull the double tongue apart).


They came with decent stock insoles, although I swapped them out for my favorite Filson cork insoles. They broke in within a month and are now very comfortable. I like the Vibram wedge soles better than other wedge soles, they seem to have better traction on wet surfaces. I’m not wild about the blingy MADE IN USA tag on the outside of the boot, but that’s easy to solve with 30 seconds and a knife.

Available in an endless variety of widths and sizes, down to 6 and up to 14. All this is to say – they’re basically Red Wing killers, and for $130, they’re pretty much half the price. Get some for this fall and winter.

Archival Review: Cycling Musettes

May 11th, 2009



Classic Rivendell Musettes

I’ve been using cycling musettes on and off the bike for over decade. Musettes were originally designed as feed bags for cyclists during road races. If you search for musettes online, you’ll also find references to WWII canvas, military fieldbags (“musette bags”) and other types of canvas shoulder bags.

Foremost, I love the cycling style musette’s low-volume, low profile carrying capacity. A good musette design should have a purse-like essence without excess hardware or trim. I prefer versions made out of lightweight cotton or waxed cotton that can easily be stowed when not in use. A musette should always be rectangular in shape.
Everybody’s favorite musette seems to be the one sold by Rivendell Bicycle Works during the early days of the company. The Riv version came in both waxed cotton and untreated canvas (some were made out of Filson fabrics, I believe). The Riv musette had a main cargo pocket and two front divided pockets. Since the bag was designed for cycling, it came with a secondary sway or waist strap to prevent the bag from sliding around while riding (I always removed this strap).


Two traditional musettes
Here’s a quick visual inventory of bags w/musette-like profiles:

Barbour Creel Bag (courtesy Reference Library)

Gilles Berthoud Musette
Gas Mask Bag

Chapman field bag

Brady carry-all (strap free)

Archival Review: Cycling Musettes

May 8th, 2009




Classic Rivendell Musettes

I’ve been using cycling musettes on and off the bike for over decade.

Musettes were originally designed as feed bags for cyclists during road races. If you search for musettes online, you’ll also find references to WWII canvas, military fieldbags (“musette bags”) and other types of canvas shoulder bags.
Foremost, I love the cycling style musette’s low-volume, low profile carrying capacity. A good musette design should have a purse-like essence without excess hardware or trim. I prefer versions made out of lightweight cotton or waxed cotton that can easily be stowed when not in use. A musette should always be rectangular in shape.
Everybody’s favorite musette seems to be the one sold by Rivendell Bicycle Works during the early days of the company. The Riv version came in both waxed cotton and untreated canvas (some were made out of Filson fabrics, I believe). The Riv musette had a main cargo pocket and two front divided pockets. Since the bag was designed for cycling, it came with a secondary sway or waist strap to prevent the bag from sliding around while riding (I always removed this strap).


Two traditional musettes
Here’s a quick visual inventory of bags w/musette-like profiles:

Barbour Creel Bag (courtesy Reference Library)

Gilles Berthoud Musette
Gas Mask Bag

Chapman field bag

Brady carry-all (strap free)