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Archive for February, 2010

Shopping from Japan: Mont-Bell Thermawrap Skirt

February 28th, 2010

Add the Mont-Bell thermawrap skirt to my list of synthetic exceptions. I love the multi-functional design of this skirt as garment, survival wrap or cushion. Use notes from the Mont-Bell site: “Throw it on over your long underwear after a day of skiing or wear it alone when it is just too cold for a traditional skirt. It also makes a perfect ultra light backcountry pillow.” As a bag junky, I’m doubly drawn to the idea of a garment that comes with its own supplemental stuff sack.

Mont-Bell should push the thermawrap concept and release a version of the skirt lined in emergency space blanket mylar.

Surprisingly, this oddball garment is available through the US Mont-Bell site (sizing starts with Medium) though the more experimental colorways (and smaller sizes?) appear to be exclusive to the Japanese market.

Japanese model in classic Outdoor Go Outside Style ensemble

Thermawrap Origami

On the subject of women’s outdoor clothing–the most recent Patagonia catalog included some terrific vintage photographs of female rock climbers from the 1970s (under the heading “Women’s Lifestyle”). Sadly, the catalog featured clothing for women that showed little in the way of a heritage design influence. Let’s hope Patagonia mines the content of historical photographs–and their own clothing archives–for a true “Women’s Lifestyle” collection.

Mari Gingery in a plaid shirt not available the Spring 2010 Patagonia catalog

Archival Field Trip – Unionmade, San Francisco

February 24th, 2010

Unionmade was one of our top destinations while in San Francisco last month. Todd has been getting lots of good press for his new store, and we wanted to swing through a take a look for ourselves. Well – with a list of products like this, it’s hard to go wrong, but it’s even better than expected thanks to the flawless presentation. It’s a comfortable store, not too crowded nor too sparse, and Todd’s long history in retail really shows. I was most excited about getting my hands on elusive Armor-Lux products, but it was also great to see a wide range of SNS Herning knits, Steele Canvas baggage, and even some bags from our neighbor in Portland, Chester Wallace.

Todd – the knowledgeable and gracious owner of Unionmade – tries on an Archival Clothing Flap Musette.

As soon as we saw the McIntosh stereo set-up, we knew we’d be in good hands.

Gitman and Armor-Lux shirting.

Lynn and Sara were captivated by this industrial-scale Steele Canvas tote, appropriate for serious farmer’s market visits, child transport, or bank robberies.

I became enraptured with this tomato-red Armor-Lux sweater.

Ever ready in a crisis, the Archival Clothing team was even able to help this young gent decide on the SNS Herning sweater best suited to his slight frame. He’s pictured above in Lesli’s Stark Cardigan, but we have the feeling that he went home with a zipper-front model – well done, sir.

Shopping from 1946: Field & Stream

February 22nd, 2010
Congress Sportswear

Masland Sportman’s Clothes

On a November run up to The Rain Shed for closed cell foam and cordage, Tom picked up this 1946 Field & Stream from a thrift shop. In a future post, I’ll showcase F & S advertisements from familiar “living” US brands like Pendleton, Gokey, Filson and Eddie Bauer. Today, I want to highlight a few forgotten outdoor clothing companies like Congress and Masland Sportman’s Clothes. US-made outdoor clothing has been reduced to a few well-known, premium priced brands (and aggravatingly, Japan-only reissues). But, the 1946 Field & Stream offers a robust selection of outdoor clothing with an emphasis on quality components, sturdy fabrics, tailored fit, good value and regional (not national) manufacturing. And of course, I love the generous selection of apparel for women (stream jacket, please).

A few more examples via flickr.

R.C. Nichols Corp.


Red Head Brand Co.

Archer Rubber Co.

Scotty Kote

Bancroft Cap Co.

Ripon Knitting Works

Dave Cook Sporting Goods Co.

Bone Dry Shoe Mfg Co.

Archival dress code for your next canoe trip:

Archival Eyewear: 8½ (Fellini 1963)

February 17th, 2010

I haven’t seen in ten years and my memory of the film (filtered through Stardust Memories and the Simpsons) boils down to three set pieces: the spa, the rhumba and the rocket. Screening a new Criterion Blu-ray edition, I enjoyed revisiting the film’s small transitional scenes and secondary characters. I was further amazed by all the stylish eyewear worn by nearly everyone in the film. As my friend Karen notes: “Reasons to Love Fellini. Number 1: He allowed his characters to be attractive and still wear corrective lenses. “

Archival Review: Man Up San Francisco

February 14th, 2010

Two weeks ago, the Boulder and Eugene arms of Archival Clothing converged on San Francisco for a winter meeting. As it were, our visit corresponded with the Man Up menswear pop up market. Since we spend so much time browsing old catalogs and flickr photostreams, it was terrific to make contact with people behind some of the brands and shops we love. Highlights for us were our visits with Howard and John at the A-B Fits booth and the fine folks behind the shirting company, Taylor Stitch.

Howard of A-B Fits testing the fit of my SNS Herning cardigan

Rising Sun & Co. denim

John in the A-B Fits booth

Vest obsession

Although the show was billed as a menswear market, we were encouraged to find a few top quality clothing options for women including the Rising Sun & Co. chambray vest. With a little tailoring, I’m pretty sure I could have made the size small fit perfectly. But I’m holding out for a promised version for women. Front pocketing reminds me of one my favorite outdoor garments, the Filson original tin cloth hunting vest.

Browsing the A-B Fits Booth

Custom shirts for Archival Clothing

Shoulder slope calculator

Michael in P.G. Field vest (secured in Scotland)

Taylor Stitch Booth

We’re very excited about the custom shirts Taylor Stitch will be creating for Lynn, Tom and me. At the show, our measurements were taken and we were instructed to select fabric from an overwhelming range of swatches. The details will be transmitted to the third generation US company who manufactures the shirts for Taylor Stitch. Since it’s nearly impossible to find a well tailored, American-made shirt for women, we have high hopes for the Taylor Stitch product. We’ll post a follow-up review once our shirts arrive. We’d love to see this kind of custom clothing service expanded to include pants and coats (ala Al’s Attire). It would give women who like heritage style clothing a chance to source many of the same garments already readily available to gents (khakis, please!) .

Vintage French Rebour saddle (outside the show)

Jeremy and his vintage Aldens

I spoke with Jeremy (one of Man Up’s impressarios) about possibly staging a similar show in the Northwest–in the fall. It would great to bring together many of the regional manufacturers and purveyors from the Portland, Seattle and Vancouver areas. We’d be there line with our full lines of bags and perhaps a few items for women.

Heritage overload

Full flickr set here.

Archival Preview: Flap Musette

February 8th, 2010

It’s coming soon. We’ve already sold out of our first sample run of our Flap Musettes, so we’ll be having a new, bigger run sewn and ready to ship in about two weeks. Expect a web store interface and more colorways, to boot! Interested parties may email for more information or to be added to our mailing list.

The Flap Musette is designed to combine the simplicity of the cycling musette with the durability and use value of a field bag. Slightly bigger than our standard Musette, it has a snapped flap closure, adjustable strap, double-layer bottom, and two inside pockets. The strap adjusts from 42 to 52 inches, accommodating most users. Our first fifty special-edition musettes have a hand-punched serial number on the leather tab. The Flap Musette is available in 10-ounce waxed cotton canvas and also in 22-ounce waxed cotton twill for more demanding conditions. Dimensions: 13″ x 10″ x 2″.

Archival Clothing bags are made of stout, closely woven waxed cotton and military-grade cotton webbing. All edges are bound in waxed cotton tape and all stress points are bar-tacked. Solid brass hardware is used throughout. Handsewn in Oregon, these bags are practical and free of complications.

Note that we will also have a new production run of our basic musette available in ranger tan, yellow and navy blue.

Here’s a recap of our overarching musette project.


$110 for 10 oz waxed cotton musette in navy, dark olive or 22 oz ranger tan twill

$50 for plain musette (navy, field tan and yellow)

Available in the future from the Archival Clothing web shop and select stockists

Archival Field Trip – Wistful Shopping at Al’s Attire

February 6th, 2010

Al’s Attire, found in the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco, is a full-custom experience. They can make-to-measure or make a new garment from scratch, so you’re guaranteed a perfect fit on your wingtip boots, railroad jacket, or shawl-collared peacoat. It was pretty stupendous stuff – absolutely unquestionable quality, gorgeous details, and lovely materials.

I fell pretty hard for this monkey-fitting railroad jacket, made with deadstock herringbone denim. After careful consideration, I figured that I’d better pay the rent rather than buy the jacket, so we went off to bury my sorrows in tiny, almond-flavored cookies and a massive mille feuille at a nearby Italian bakery.

Full flickr set on Al’s Attire here.

Shopping from Television: Dallas

February 4th, 2010

A guest post by Karen Hart

We’ve been watching a lot of television in our house lately. Television is short, moderately and sometimes unintentionally amusing and you don’t have to invest time and energy into enjoying it. Until winter is over this will most likely be our primary form of entertainment. We tried Knot’s Landing a few weeks ago and had so much fun with it that we decided to take on Knot’s‘ big brother, Dallas.

The clothes are more varied on Dallas in comparison to Knot’s. I suppose it has something to do with Dallas being about rich people and Knot’s being about suburbanites, but no one has worn the same thing twice in the 3 episodes we’ve watched so far (I swear, Karen has worn the same red Hawaiian print jumpsuit in 4 episodes of Knot’s). There hasn’t been anything super glamorous, probably because there was no competition from Dynasty until 1981, and yet it’s all stylish. Oddly enough for a late 1970’s night-time soap opera, a lot of it is made of durable fabrics.

These are winter episodes so everyone wears a coat and someone is usually wearing wool. Here bad girl Lucy has a particularly nice zip up parka in light blue with lovely little block print on the white hood and sleeves.

It drops just under her waist, so there’s seat protection from the cold and it’s fitted with a belt for an hourglass shape. Perfect for that long walk home after you’ve tried to frame a teacher for rape.

Puffy coats were just starting to hit their mark in 1978 (only to get the addition of linebacker shoulder pads a few years later) and Pamela has three or four short ones as well as this long version that she wears to the stables because that’s where you’d wear it … I guess …?

… and the short of it. The silk scarf is more fashion than function, but with a collar like that you don’t need much more to keep you cozy. It’s a good, solid sleeping bag style that you can still find at Old Navy today. They’re a little hard to clean (like a sleeping bag), but warm once it starts working with body heat (like … well, you get it).

Pamela also has a sensible wool coat that she wears for visits to see her family in the dive bar on the other side of the tracks. Her brother Cliff is sporting one of the many versions of the sheepskin lined coat, which will get more mention below.

Pamela shows us the tartan lining. Not too heavy, but comfortable and long-lasting.

The men alternate between suede and leather, unless you’re JR and then you wear wool because it’s bad man classy. The double-breast looks just fine on JR, who wants to create a solid, boxy presence when he works his underhanded dealings. Jock, the up-from-nothing millionaire patriarch, is more traditional Texas, wrapped up in nature’s own sheepskin and suede.

Dallas likes to play off the class war while at the same time showing us that the Ewings are really no better than anyone else — they just happen to have more money than anyone else. “All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” says Tolstoy. Dallas reverses it — everyone has a drunk relation, an illegitimate child, a black sheep, connivers, etc… They are unhappy-alike in family and fashion. Jock wears sheepskin, but so does Cliff, the poor lawyer trying to take them down. And what’s good for the rich is good for the worker. Here ranch hand Hal has the fanciest sheepskin coat of all.

Much better than Ray’s suede short coat which requires a puffy vest underneath. (Ray, it turns out, is the illegitimate Ewing, which may explain why he alternates between the puffy outdoor everyman vest and the Ewing man Texas suede.)

As to durability, you can see any of these coats out there now, because barring any kind of moth invasion or oil spill, these are all sensible, durable styles. My father bought a sheepskin coat around the same time. It was about $300 at Saks, but he’s had it now for about 30 years and it’s still nice enough to wear to church in the winter. Now that’s a pretty sound investment.

Archival Field Trip: San Francisco (1/2010)

February 2nd, 2010

by Lesli Larson

Archival Clothing made a quick trip to San Francisco over the weekend to see friends, visit shops, show bags and attend Andrea Marcovicci’s Johnny Mercer tribute. As it were, our visit corresponded with the opening of MAN UP, a menswear pop-up store on Market St. In the next few posts, we’ll document our finds. For now, here’s a quick visual review.