I first spotted these snappy racing sweaters in Men’s File Magazine. They were made exclusively for Velo Moto by our favorite French knitwear company, Saint James. The sweater is built on the chassis of the Saint James Matelot, a model designed to fit snugly to the body. According to Velo Moto, the racing sweater was popular with cyclists from the 1930s to the 1960s. It remains the perfect style for keeping out wind and damp on moving boats, motorcycles and bicycles. My favorite elements are the sleeve striping, contrasting red placket and rear buttoning pocket. This pocket, a traditional feature of cycling jerseys, translates well for everyday use (to stash house keys, pen and notebook or smart phone).
We’re updating the AC web shop with Fall items from Rising Sun, Leather Head Sports, Saint James and Columbiaknit. Check out our Columbiaknit cotton caps in new colorways. And by popular demand, we’re bringing in a new logo-neutral Cooperstown Ball Cap in our favorite color, navy blue. Stay tuned for updates on more items coming to the AC shop including Individualized shirts and a from-the-archives, machine knit wool scarf.
Next week, we’ll have a restock of Archival Clothing web belts. For this production run, we’ve die cut a lightweight Horween hide for the belt tip. The belt will combine three of our favorite archival materials: Horween leather, mil spec cotton webbing and solid brass hardware.
I just received the first sample of our pure new worsted wool, shawl collar cardigan. Centralia Knitting Mills should deliver our full shipment by mid to late November. Look for the sweater in four colorways: multi-weave gray, cardinal red, navy and light gray. We’ve sized the sweaters for everyone from petite women to semi-sizeable gents. I’ll be sporting my sample during shop visits this weekend.
Terry is busy sewing up new runs of our Archival Clothing Rucksacks and Flap Musettes in all colorways. He will also be working on our first small production run of Archival Clothing Field Bags. I’ll file a separate report on this project closer to the release date.
In the next two weeks, we will be taking delivery of more Steele Canvas Basket totes with a stencil based on a vintage company pattern. Our custom janitor’s tote will probably be available by mid-November.
We’re waiting to see the first samples of our discharge printed, US made, all cotton kerchief. Progress report on this project to be filed shortly.
Check back in the next few weeks for more product pix and updates.
And look for an Archival NYC field trip report next week.
Part of the pleasure of the Archival Clothing enterprise is to source and sell hard to find items. In the distant past, I used to spend weeks tracking down a bag or jacket or bike part before ordering it from an obscure or overseas vendor (most often by phone, not online). For example, in the early 90s, I would order French Saint James knitwear sweaters directly from Upland Trading Company in New York. I was always looking for non-stock styles or color combinations that were pictured in the print catalogs but not available in the U.S.
I’ve always worn the Saint James Pont, a fine stitch nautical sweater that has a terrific, slim fit and great, seasonal color variations. It fits me better than the Binic, a looser fitting sweater designed for gents. One of our Saint James reps, Sarah K., introduced me to the Matelot, a style I had originally overlooked since most U.S. stockists (including JCrew) only sell the Binic. Now I prefer the Matelot for the robust quality of the wool, the uber slim fit and the full body striping. Originally designed for the French navy, the Matelot is a seaman’s sweater with a looped round collar and a dense body with fine one-by-one rib knit. It has a wonderful long snug fit. There is a button placket on left shoulder. The original Matelot is designed to fit snugly to keep out the wind and damp during maritime voyages.
The pure wool used for the Matelot is among the best quality we’ve seen on a contemporary sweater. It’s thick enough to be a substantial layer without being too warm to wear all day. The Matelot has also become one of Tom’s favorite garments. Since the sweater is unisex, women can wear it as well as gents. We carry the sweater down to a size XS (refer to sizing charts in our shop) but we can special order XXS for slimmer men and petite women. I just ordered a XXS Matelot for myself in Medoc, a stunning tomato paste red.
In addition to standard Saint James colorways for this sweater (navy white, white/navy), Archival Clothing was able to secure a limited production run of Matelot sweaters in light gray with dark charcoal stripes, a color no longer available. Check our web shop for size and color availability. We also carry other Saint James items including the Pont sweaters, wool caps and cotton and wool scarves.
Sheet music for your sweater (via Pillpat)
Archival Clothing has been busy with projects this summer. Here are a few updates.
On Saturday, we picked up our second production run of rucksacks from our terrific sewing contractor, Terry Shuck. While neighbors were setting off daylight fireworks, we were indoors packing bags and filling out customs forms for our many international orders.
In addition to rucksacks, we will have a new shipment of flap musettes in our standard colors–plus black and gray–available in two weeks. We will also be bringing out an all black version of our tote bag.
We have a new Archival bag style–an updated field bag–in the works. Terry is currently prototyping Tom’s design and we should have our first production run available sometime in August. More on this project in a future post.
While not preparing for his move to New York, Tom has been working out of the Archival bonus room. He’s managing our expanding supply line of waxed cotton fabric, leather, webbing, thread and hardware. We’ve reordered new hides from Horween, and have started the process of having cotton webbing custom woven for us at a Pennsylvania narrow fabrics mill. In addition to designing our bags, Tom is contributing many of the finishing details on our bags–hand cutting all of the leather straps for the rucksacks and individually numbering the leather strap retainers (rucksacks) and leather tabs (flap musettes).
We’re committed to sourcing as many of our material supplies–and third party products–from US manufacturers. There are a few challenges to this approach. Many vendors have very high minimums, difficult for small manufacturers who aren’t making 10,000 bags at a time. Other vendors list products for sale when they’re in fact back ordered through the winter.
Of course, our own bags are made here in Springfield, Oregon. It’s terrific to be able to talk with Terry whenever there’s a question about production. If we were making our bags overseas, we’re sure that we’d have 100 bags with a tragic, unsaleable flaw.
A few other projects are in the works. We’ll be placing our order for Archival Clothing shawl collared cardigans from Centralia Knitting Mills – expect to see them for sale in October. We’re also making progress on our bandanna project, though finding appropriate fabric that’s made in the USA is proving to be a challenge. Our friends at Lumina Clothing are giving us a hand, and we hope to make some leaps on the project this month. We’ve gotten some press recently, as well, from Selectism to, believe it or not, Lucky Magazine! We were also delighted to see Archival buddy Peter Buchanan-Smith’s profile in the Times (and thankful that he mentioned us).
Finally, our web shop, at long last, will open for business this week. We’ll be carrying our own bags, of course, as well as some of our favorite items from other producers, such as Saint James tops and scarves, Chester Wallace bags, and cuffs from BillyKirk.