Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Posts Tagged ‘custom order’

Shopping from the Future: Vanilla Custom Bicycle

January 20th, 2011

In April, I’ll be pre-registering for Paris-Brest-Paris. Although the Pencil was an early front runner, I’ll be riding my custom Vanilla lugged randonnee on the August 2011 ride. Acquiring the Vanilla was a bit like mail ordering from the future. I submitted a deposit in 2006 and took delivery in September 2010. The bike is a bit of a Rivendell remake (more Herzog’s Nosferatu, less Van Sant’s Psycho). I switched over from 650b to 700c tires, requested lighter weight tubing and integrated lights, rack and fenders. Sacha White, the bike’s builder, was kind enough to borrow a mandrel to give my front fork a nice, low radius bend (à la française).

Here’s an out-of-the-past preview courtesy of the Vanilla Workshop’s flickr photostream:

Photographed outside the Vanilla Workshop in Portland, Oregon.

Austere decaling. Only one panel on the seat tube.

Trusty Acorn Rando Boxy bag transplanted to the Vanilla.

Generator driven, Schmidt Edelux Headlight.

Son 20 front 32 hub. Lightweight for year round use.

Leather chain slap guard.

Updated views from an unusually balmy MLK Day ride:

January edition. Bar wrap and saddle have been updated.

Detail shot of simple lugs and Pacenti Paris-Brest crown.

Sacha special: custom handlebar bag rack with decaleur (not pictured).
For interested parties, here’s a short instructional film on PBP.

Archival custom order: Filson dog collar

April 5th, 2010
Chaz in his Filson collar (on shore of McKenzie River)

In my post on the Filson custom order program, I forgot to mention the collar I purchased for my dog, Chaz. Filson offers their vegetable tanned, bridle leather collars in 14, 19, 21 and 23 inch lengths. Unfortunately, this size range really only covers skinny spaniels or thick necked Labrador retrievers. Filson needs a mid-sized collar in the 16-17″ range which would work for field dogs like Weimaraners and German Shorthaired Pointers (breeds frequently featured in Filson catalog copy).

A Filson staffer once told me about a collar he had made for his bird dog from a Filson bridle leather belt blank (before Filson made dog collars). Inspired, I phoned Filson to see if I could customize a collar for Chaz. For the standard upcharge of 35% above retail, Filson agreed to make the collar (confirming that they had recently customized a 17″ collar for another customer).

Here are some use notes and photographs of the custom Filson collar:

New Filson collar (L), aged Leerburg flat collar (R)

Welded brass hardware

Made in Seattle

Double riveting

While I love how the Filson collar looks, I’d like to see Filson make a few upgrades to the design. For one, the collar comes with a welded rather than cast brass “O” ring. For a company that prides itself on making products from the “best” materials, I’m surprised by their selection of lower grade hardware for the optical center of the collar. I’m constantly rotating the weld so that it doesn’t show.

Also, after a wet winter’s exposure to rain, the leather is beginning to wrinkle and warp a little. While I regularly treat the leather with Pecard dressing, I’m concerned about how the collar is going to look after a few years.

If I were updating the collar, I’d swap out the brass ring, upgrade the leather and reinforce the pop rivets with double-stitching for extra durability (see the Leerburg collar as an example). While I’m critical of these details (I expect the best from Filson), I’d still recommend it for anyone looking for a quality collar. (Note that for swimming, I’d switch over to something a little more non-archival and water repellent.)

For reference, here are a few additional sources for archival quality leather pet leashes and collars.

Ray Allen


Frances Kelley Bridles

Archival Custom Order: CC Filson

March 29th, 2010

Most folks don’t know that Filson offers a custom order service. If you like a specific Filson garment, you can request a customized version in a different fabric w/limited pocketing or pattern edits. In effect, you can create your own one-off, “Filson x you” collaboration (although the customer care page warns that they cannot create entirely new patterns). In addition to current styles, Filson can also make many discontinued garments. For gents, I’d recommend ordering the classic cruiser jacket in original whipcord fabric (forestry cloth not available). Wait time is about 2 months and surcharge can be up to 50% of the original retail price.

From the Filson site, here is the inventory of possible changes.

  • Extra long and short sizes (many coats and jackets)
  • Larger and smaller sizes (most garments)
  • Longer legs (pants, bibs and chaps)
  • Longer rise (all pants, bibs and shorts)
  • One arm or leg longer
  • All belts longer or shorter
  • Substitute snaps instead of buttons or vice versa (many coat and vests)
  • Left hand shooting patch (hunting garments)
  • Different colors and weights of wool (coats and pants)
  • Many Tin Cloth and Shelter Cloth garments are available in either fabric in Dry or Oil Finish
  • Shorter handles on all luggage styles with handles. Different strap lengths too.
  • Footwear in additional widths, larger and smaller sizes
  • We can produce many discontinued Filson garments

Here are two custom orders I’ve placed in the last two years.

Filson Creek jacket for women (from tin cloth to cover cloth)

Filson women’s Creek jacket in 6 oz Cover Cloth

The Creek jacket is my all-time favorite jacket for women by Filson. The fit is perfect and I love the jacket’s simple, uncomplicated design (unlined, snap front, band collar w/ moleskin trimmed collar, placket and pockets). I wanted a flyweight waxed cotton version for use as a cycling jacket in early Fall/late Spring. For the custom order, I swapped out the heavier dry finish cloth duck for waxed 6 oz cover cloth. I was strongly advised not to use the cover cloth since it is typically used for lined jackets and can be vulnerable to tearing. I also asked Filson to remove the stitching from upper left pencil pocket (a change that was originally rejected). I’ve been wearing the jacket for six months and have had no problems with the cover cloth fabric. I’d love to see Filson offer this style jacket in more of their stock fabrics (wool, waxed tin cloth, etc).

Filson Mackinaw wool vest (from 26 to 21 oz wool)

Filson women’s wool vest in 21 oz. wool

This is my most recent customization. I’ve always been a fan of the grey diagonal fabric used by Filson for their cape coat (a garment they should really offer in a future line for women). I thought the fabric would make for an amazing vest. Again, I wear my Filson clothing indoors and for cycling so I tend to like a slightly lighter weight fabric. The new 21 oz wool vest is already a daily driver.

Here is an example of the limits of the custom order program.

Shelter cloth jacket (from waxed cotton to wool whipcord)

Wool whipcord work jacket

Several years ago, I ordered this men’s shelter cloth jacket in gray wool whipcord (my favorite Filson fabric). I requested that the reinforcing arm patches be sewn in contrasting green whipcord (a customization that is no longer available). The jacket turned out well. But since it was a gent’s cut, and since Filson would not adjust the original sizing of a garment, it never fit well and I re-released to ebay last Fall.