Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Archive for November, 2010

Introducing the Archival Clothing Field Bag

November 30th, 2010

We’re proud to present the Archival Clothing Field Bag. It’s intended as a daily workhorse, a crossover between a traditional English fishing bag and an urban messenger bag. Durable construction and practical features allow the bag to excel at carrying gear both outdoors and to the office.

Features include a roomy main compartment, two bellows pockets, and one large pocket across the back. A solid brass ring provides an easy attachment point for keys or fishing net. Leather strap, roller buckle, and a heavy-duty RiRi zipper secure the bag’s contents.

Seams are bound in waxed cotton tape, all stress points are bar-tacked or riveted, and each bag is hand-numbered. Easily fits laptops (up to 15″) in the owner’s own sleeve.

Available in Ranger Tan and Olive twill.
Coming in mid-December, Field Bags in Gray and Dark Brown twill.

Dimensions: 16″ x 12.75″ x 4″

Made In USA

Highest quality materials: Waxed twill fabric, Horween leather, and thread are of US origin. Webbing and most of our brass hardware is sourced from the UK. RiRi zippers are made in Switzerland.

Archival Essential: Wool Blankets

November 24th, 2010

We love woolen garments and accessories. We obsess over pure new wool. We prefer wool over almost any other fabric because of its warmth and durability and because it retains its natural beauty over its long life. We believe, and can testify from experience, that an investment in wool pays off generously. Wool blankets are essential this time of year. As temperatures drop and you start feeling the chill, add a blanket layer to your bed or pull a blanket over your lap while you’re sitting on the couch or in the car. Wrap blankets around your kids (or your parents). A personal sized wool blanket or throw is a lasting gift. It makes a great picnic blanket (for those of you in temperate climes). Kids can take a magic carpet ride on a wool throw, or pitch a cozy tent in the living room. Pets also enjoy sleeping on wool. The favorite spot of a certain cat we know is the folded blanket at the end of the bed. (The dog would be on the blanket too, if only the cat would let him.)

LL Bean Fall 1942 – for auto, hammock or stadium seat (Oregon green & gold n/a)

Bean Blanket circa Fall 1953 (imported fiber!)

Pendleton offerings

The price of the Pendleton motor robe in the 1967 Eddie Bauer catalog above is $14.95. The 2010 price, adjusted for inflation is $98. By comparison, the Pendleton Lambswool Throw (the modern day equivalent of the motor robe) currently sells for $78. That’s less than its adjusted 1967 cost. Wool does not cost more than it did in the past. Blankets made of synthetics are cheap, so we perceive wool as expensive.

Wool was the long-standing fabric of choice for airplane blankets, outdoor blankets and bedding. United Airlines blankets, for example, were milled by Faribault, a company that recently went out of business. (Look for Faribault blankets on eBay.) Some woolen mills that are still in operation are: Amana Woolen Mills (IA), Bemidji Woolen Mills (MN) and Johnson Woolen Mills (VT). All of them make excellent wool blankets.

We added MacAusland’s wool throws to our store this fall. MacAusland’s Woolen Mills on Prince Edward Island in Canada has been making blankets since 1932. We love the diagonal striping (tweed) on these throws, the variety of colors, and the softness of the wool.

MacAusland’s still makes all of its blankets “from scratch”. The wool is sourced locally from the Atlantic Provinces. It is cleaned, carded and spun into yarn onsite. MacAusland’s is the only remaining Woolen Mill in Atlantic Canada that makes its own blankets. The business is family-owned and a pleasure to work with. MacAuslands also makes bed blankets that can be ordered through us or directly from the manufacturer. They take only about 3 weeks to make.

Blankets coming off the loom at MacAusland’s Woolen Mills

Remember that you can repurpose vintage woolens from EBAY or ETSY, provided they have been well cared for. Here’s a few that I ordered recently. Keywords: wool, blanket, vintage, throw (lap blanket). Look for offering from heritage brands such as Faribo (or Faribault), Amana, Pendleton, Strathdown, Lagoda, Hudson Bay and others to find the best quality blankets. If you don’t currently have one in your car, or at home this is a great way to stock up without making a big investment.

Shopping From the Desert: Layton Kor

November 22nd, 2010

Growing up as a library hound and a rock climber, I read a lot of dusty books about climbing from the 1960s and 1970s. There were always a lot of references to Layton Kor, the giant of a man climbing the sandiest towers that Utah has to offer. The famous Kor-Ingalls route on Castleton Tower is one of a series of brilliant FAs that Kor accomplished in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This kind of climbing never did it for me – the crumbling choss of the Cascades was bad enough, and I mostly stuck to cleaned-up areas like Smith.

Away from the mud, he also made a long list of FAs in Colorado – Long’s Peak, Eldorado Canyon, Black Canyon, and so on.

Mr Kor is in trouble of the kidney kind. Please consider donating to the fund to get some new kidneys to Layton and get him back out on the rock. (Most images taken from

Archival Announcement: Pop Up Flea Appearance

November 18th, 2010

There’s a Pop Up Flea in Nolita this weekend, and we will be there!

Come by on Friday or Saturday and see what’s new at Archival Clothing. Meet Tom, the designer of our bags, and share your feedback. This is an exciting event because many of the best purveyors of heritage menswear are participating. Although it’s billed as a menswear gathering, there’s sure to be classic heritage styles that appeal to women.
For attendees of the Flea, we will be offering a special deal on our Navy Tote – plus we’ll have free domestic shipping on any item in the Archival Clothing store not in stock at the event.
Here’s the official announcement. We’re there on Friday and Saturday. Come see us!
Pop Up Flea
Fri – Sun, Nov 19-21
201 Mulberry Street, NYC
Follow @Pop_Up_Flea on Twitter

Nice Flea preview on Esquire including a nod to our A.C. rucksack.

Field Bag Round-Up

November 16th, 2010

As I type, our sewing contractors are working on our first run of Archival Clothing Field Bags. Just like last time, we’ll preface the introduction of a new product with a round-up of existing bags.

We’ve always loved Brady Bags, and this small trout bag has served Lesli faithfully for years. We like the heavy laminated duck, the fine quality webbing, and the convenient pocketing. The side-mounted shoulder strap also ensures a comfortable, close carry.

We really are Filson devotees, but we’ve found their Field Bag series to be challenging. This example has been used heavily by the Archival family for 15 years. Though it’s built like a truck from top notch materials, we’ve found a few drawbacks. Abundant use of heavy twill, bridle leather and brass mean that the bag is heavy and bulky, even when unpacked. We prefer webbing shoulder straps to leather, as web is softer and more comfortable (and negates the need for a separate strap pad). Attaching the straps on the back panel means that the bag tends to flop downwards rather than hug the user’s back. And a panel of extra fabric around the bag’s opening keeps rain out, but also makes it harder to load and unload your gear.

One of our favorite bags, this Hunting World Safari Today is comfortable and convenient (there are two pockets on the inside). Of course, it’s no longer available, and it doesn’t fit laptops or much more than a half-day’s worth of gear.

Though we love the hand-knotted fishing net on this old Chapman game bag, we had to admit that its utility is limited in daily use, as fingers get caught and small objects vanish instantly. We’ll keep this one around for hunting squirrels, but we left the net off of our own Field Bag.

So surrounded by examples, both material and visual, we set off to design a workhorse shoulder bag that would equally serve an urban professional or a dedicated fisherman. Our requirements:

– Unquestionably durable construction
– A strap configuration that provides for a comfortable carry
– Useful pocketing while keeping the layout as minimal as possible
– Plenty of room for laptops
– Protection from the elements
– No features or finish that compromise function or unduly raise price (i.e. abundant leather trim)
– As with all of our products, domestic materials and manufacture to the best of our ability.

Results to be announced soon!

Archival Field Trip: NYC/Brooklyn (Pt 2)

November 11th, 2010

Back in Eugene, I’m fast forwarding through some more snapshots from our recent trip to NYC.

If you live in NYC, you should be watching a movie nearly every night. No excuses. During our trip, we were able to catch a screening of Frederick Wiseman‘s new documentary, Boxing Gym. In a future post, we will review some of the archival workouts found in Wiseman’s film. Our favorite: striking an old truck tire with a sledge hammer. In an “only in NY” moment, our Wiseman evening concluded unexpectedly with an audience Q&A led by an NYU film professor and a professional boxer (“The Polish Punisher”).

I stalked these gents down the street near Freemans Sporting Club. I was curious about the untreated natural duck shoulder bag, assuming it was a special Tokyo-only item. I later found it at J.Crew.

Sunday morning, we dropped by one of my favorite NYC shops, Barbour by Peter Elliot. I know most of the inventory by heart but I was surprised by this new Barbour waxed cotton blazer w/integrated quilt liner.

Tempted by the trim fit of the Barbour Bedale for children

Beautiful pocketing detail on a Barbour x To Ki To jacket

During our visit to Freemans Sporting Club,we ran into these friends of Archival Clothing (Seattle transplants). For obvious reasons, we love Freeman’s ethos of producing locally made, heritage inspired clothing from the best quality materials. The chore jacket in 5.5 oz Waxwear waxed cotton is a personal favorite.

Fellow Oregonian and A Restless Transplant blogger, Foster Huntington, joined our archival walking tour Saturday afternoon.

Quick pause at the J.Crew Liquor Store.

Since we sell our Archival Rucksacks through Peter Buchanan’s Best Made Co, we wanted to stop by his studio and meet Peter in person. We chatted about the genesis of Peter’s axe project and a mystery chore coat he picked up in Sweden. Turns out the jacket is made by Saint James and it’s a model readily available through our own distributor (if you’re interested, email me). Per normal, the size small jacket fits me (and Tom) like David Byrne’s suit in Stop Making Sense. Lensman Foster took some great snaps of the studio visit.

On Sunday, we made a pilgrimage to MOMA to see the Frankfurt kitchen and some time based art.

On Monday, Tom and I finished up our tour of shops. We stopped at Odin, a great NYC menswear shop that carries Engineered Garments, an Archival Clothing favorite. I was impressed by the friendly, low key store staff. They didn’t seem to mind me snapping ten thousand views of my current obsession, a ripstop cotton pea coat by Engineered Garments. During our visit, a delivery gent came by to pick up a package for GQ. I considered slipping an A.C. bag into the bundle.

Friend Jing, aka Hands on with X, recommended that we visit Blue in Green, “a men’s lifestyle store,” which she shops from Australia. Blue in Green specializes in men’s fashion from Japan, England, Italy, France and the United States. Not surprisingly, our favorite items–shirts, denim, and jackets–came from Japan. The Real McCoy rigger boots were total show stoppers.

FWK Engineered Garments for women

New trousers for Tom

Heritage poncho

Nearing heritage overload, our last stop on our tour was the Nepenthes store in the garment district. Tom chatted with one of the staff while I headed to the back area of the shop to view the FWK Engineered Garments collection for women (review to follow).

We picked up a few bagels (consolation biscuits) for our return flight back to Eugene.

Archival Reissue: Steele Canvas Janitor’s Bag

November 8th, 2010
Scene from the Archival Clothing Janitor’s Bag release party

We’re happy to announce the release of our new Steele Canvas Janitor’s Bag. Steele Canvas has been making industrial canvas baskets, hampers, trucks and buggies since 1921. We’ve been working with Steele on a re-issue of the original, square bottomed janitor’s bag that we spotted in a vintage company catalog. We love the enormous scale of this bag. It eclipses even the extra large L.L. Bean Boat and Tote. We use ours for laundry, trips to the post office and open storage around the house. We’ve specified two different handle lengths for your preferred carrying method. The long strap permits you to carry the bag over your shoulder. Great for trips to the laundromat. The shorter handles stay out of the way and let you carry the bag by your side.

While stock Steele bags are made from #6 (21 oz.) canvas duck, ours is produced in natural, untreated #4 (24 oz.) canvas duck. We prefer this weight of canvas duck for its rigidity and durability. Like Brink’s money bags, our janitor’s bags will stay open even when empty.

Shopping from the Steele Canvas print archives

Steele Canvas Basket for Archival Clothing Janitor’s Bag (6″ handle)

Steele Canvas for Archival Clothing Janitor’s Bag (12″ handle)

Field testing an earlier prototype

Laundry eye view of square-bottom construction

Non-standard, super stout, #4 canvas cotton duck

Part of the project for the janitor’s bag was to source an original vintage stencil to match the catalog version. Most of the vintage Steele stencils were no longer in good enough condition to be used for the project. Paul at Steele worked with me and a local stencil maker to produce a new stencil based on an old pattern.

Original Steele stencil

Stencil revision

We have also received a restock of our 17″ Steele Canvas tote w/the new old Steele stencil:

Shopping from the Movies: Pencil Sharpeners

November 7th, 2010
Outfitting the new office in The Good Fairy (Sturges 1932)

If you’re like us, you’ve given up purchasing new desk accessories. Current offerings at stores such as Staples are uninspired. We prefer to comb thrift store aisles for tape dispensers, pen holders, metal files and the occasional typewriter.

Movies are an excellent source for office supplies. We recommend shopping from films of the nineteen thirties. Desk accessories from this era were well made with an emphasis on scientific precision and good design.

Case and point is the pencil sharpening “instrument” purchased by Dr. Max Sporum in The Good Fairy (Sturgess 1932).

“Ah, there it is! You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“Have you ever wanted something all your life and then suddenly it arrives?”

“This was my great ambition.”

“So smooth. It must have ball bearings.”

“Glorious! Like a needle. Have you ever seen such a point?”
“It takes all sizes.”

“If you paid a little more attention to pencil sharpeners, you might not work in a stationery shop all your life.”

Were his sharpener to give out after a decade, here are some options for Dr. Sporum:

From the Montgomery Ward catalog (1947)

Shopping from the Present – Dickies 1922 Collection

November 5th, 2010

I had wanted to get my hands on a pair of Dickies’ new made-in-the-USA 1922 Collection trousers since I first saw them over at ACL. Eventually the folks at Dickies were kind enough to send a few pairs along for Lesli and me to review. [UPDATE: NEW 1922 SITE]

Firstly, I’m really impressed by the quality of construction. Note the inconspicuous bar-tacking at stress points and the neatly split waistband. All stitches are straight, and the patterning is beautifully done.

Good construction is worthless if the materials aren’t stunning, but thankfully, it’s knock-out. The 8.2 ounce Cramerton Cloth used in the collection is woven in the US to military spec. It’s thick and supple, and seems to take abuse without noticing – it should break in beautifully. I’m also very fond of the heavy-duty sailcloth used in the pockets, since I’ve had the pockets of otherwise durable trousers give out, usually when I’m carrying something like ball bearings and riding on public transportation with my arms full.

A top request for me from trousers, from khakis to denim – stout belt loops. These deliver, sporting bombproof tunnel-style belt loops that are sewn into the waistband at top and bottom. Note neat construction and reinforcement.

So where might I change these trousers? Well, the fit might rub some people the wrong way. I don’t wear my pants too tightly – about a Levis 501 fit – but the 1922 collection is sized to historical dimensions, and there’s a lot of room in there. I’ll admit that they’re very comfortable, and unlike some fits of Bill’s Khakis, these manage to be roomy without feeling balloon-like. I’ve gotten used to how they feel, but I’ll never be entirely at ease in them since they’re so different from anything else in my closet. There’s also a very wide hem on the legs, so if you like to roll your trousers, get ready for a 2.5-inch cuff!

Finally, and pardon my nit-picking, the top button of the fly (on the waistband) is too small and incorrectly attached. The button has to go through twice as much fabric at the waistband, which is why denim buttons are larger and have those big posts – the size makes it easier to shove through, and the post provides clearance for all that fabric. The top button on the Dickies is sewn flush to the fabric, so it’s a battle to get through. I simply took it off and re-attached it with a longer shank of thread – just put a thin skewer under the button while you sew it on. Not a deal-breaker, by any means, and it’s a historical detail to begin with, but that’s the kind of accuracy that I’m happy to leave in the past.

Summary – These are absolutely beautiful trousers, made in the USA to a very high specification. If the fit works for you, they’re some of the best chinos on the market, and for $200, they had better be. The possible shortcomings – wide fit and an imperfect button – come about simply due to historical accuracy. So I encourage Dickies to create an updated version of the 1922 Collection trousers, with a slimmer (read: standard width) fit, lower-profile hem, and brass zipper fly, while keeping the incredible, stout fabric, USA manufacture, and top-notch quality. Here’s hoping that domestic production expands for this venerable company.

Thanks again to Dickies for allowing us to test these trousers!