Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Posts Tagged ‘new york times’

Archival Garb for Women

July 12th, 2013

It was great to see this article in the New York Times about the emerging trend of tailored, masculine clothing for women.  I’ve been championing the production of heritage style menswear sized for women since the earliest days of the Archival blog.  Of course, Japan, per usual, is ahead of the curve in this area.  Beams Boys regularly features snaps of of female customers sporting menswear inspired ensembles.  Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the Beams flickr feed:


Archival Baggage: De Martini Messenger Bags

March 8th, 2011
Outside De Martini shop, NYC, mid-1990s

Basic model, De Martini messenger bag

I bought my first bike messenger bag from De Martini/Globe Canvas in the mid 1990s. I had read about the De Martini bags, and the company’s owner, Frank De Martini, a sail-maker by trade, in Bicycle Guide magazine. At the time, De Martini was supplying sturdy, affordable, canvas messenger bags to many of NYC’s bike messengers. The company’s shop was located in a basement on Mott Street in Little Italy. Orders were taken in person at the shop. Cash sales only. Bags in various stages of production were piled on the floor. I stepped over them to make my purchase.

Modern messenger bags have morphed into urban briefcases constructed from modern technical fabrics, w/complicated pocketing systems, plastic hardware, side-cam shoulder straps and special inserts for computers and business cards. In contrast, my original De Martini bag has a simple, elemental design. The bag is lined with bright yellow truck tarping that keeps out moisture and makes the contents of the bag more visible. I carry mine for postal deliveries in the rain. The heavy canvas duck exterior keeps out the elements and holds up well to use. I’ve owned this bag for 15 years and it only shows low level wear and tear.

Here’s a partial reprint of a story on De Martini that ran in the NY Times on August 4, 1985

One Man’s Art: Bags for Messengers

A street hatch opens onto a steep well of crooked stairs. Below, large spools of colored canvas lean against old tables and sewing machines, while flourescent lights vie for ceiling space with huge pipes. Scissors and awls lie about and pictures of schooners line the walls.

This is the underground shop of Frank Martini, the 76-year-old owner and sole employee of the Globe Canvas Company at 177 Mott Street. A sail maker by trade, he began making bicycle messenger bags 20 years ago. He has sold them wholesale to the more than 50 bike messenger services in New York ever since. No one else makes messenger bags, although some have tried.

”Everybody gets them from him,” said Glen Janus, a spokesman for Streetwise, a messenger service that has used the bags throughout its 10 years of business. ”He’s a legend.”

On Cyclists’ Backs

While Mr. Martini labors below ground, his work hugs the backs of speeding cyclists above who appreciate how the bag conforms to odd-size parcels, adjusts to unevenly weighted loads and endures heavy rains. Wearing his bag over his shoulder, Giovanni Headley, a veteran messenger, said, ”If you take good care of it, it will take good care of you.”

Bag making, which began with a request from one of the first bicycle messenger services 20 years ago, has taken the place of sails and boat work as Mr. Martini’s regular business. Though he has received orders from Airborne Air Freight, the people who post subway advertisements and Columbia Pictures, the bags are almost the exclusive domain of bicycle messengers.

”These kids need bags,” Mr. Martini says. ”Without a bag these kids can’t go to work.”

Many Buy in Bulk

Many messenger companies either buy the bags in bulk or have their messengers buy them from Mr. Martini. Some companies will hire only messengers who have their own bags.

”If I sell them to stores, they’ll charge them $30 or $40,” Mr. Martini says. ”That’s highway robbery.” Bags bought from him cost $20, a price that reflects the sympathy he frequently shows his young clientele. ”Most of their work goes toward tuition money,” he says. ”I like that.”

Bag making is a study in fluid and frenzied craftmanship. Mr. Martini, slicing and sewing, can whip through several bags in about 20 minutes, stopping only to curse ancient sewing machines that cannot keep up with him.

The canvas is cut into sides. Then, tossing rulers out of his way and shoving a large L-shaped table against one of several sewing machines, Mr. Martini attaches a Velcro strip, the first seal, and, as a second seal, two buckles with straps. In short order, he fastens inner pocket, flap and shoulder strap. Every stitch is reinforced, often as many as nine times.

”There isn’t much handwork done anymore,” he says, looking at the finished bags. ”Everything’s done by machines. I don’t need them.”


From the Times: Filson Tin Cloth Vest

April 24th, 2009

From left, Richard Poe, Kristine Nielsen, Laura Benanti and Amir Arison in Christopher Durang’s new comedy at the Public Theater

On April 7, friend Brad W. and I both noted the stage right presence of a Filson Original Hunting Vest in a page C6 NY Times review of the play, Why Torture is Wrong, and the people who love them. Indoors, the tin cloth vest looks newly minted and out of place, like it just came off the shelf of a Filson flagship store.

In past blog posts, I’ve noted the presence of Filson and Barbour brands in David Mamet movies. I’m wondering whether Mamet’s influence on Broadway now extends to dressing principal characters in American heritage clothing brands?

While I’ve tried to champion oil finished Filson tin cloth as an indoor fabric, I’ve rarely seen this practice adopted by anyone other than Tin Cloth Monday participants. The original tin cloth hunting vest works well for indoor wear given its extensive, purse-like pocketing and ventilating arms holes.

Several years ago I had a local seamstress add some additional upper pockets and a brass grommet to my own tin vest. As it were, I ended up selling it on ebay due to irreconcilable sizing issues (it wore more like an A-frame tent). A photo:

Refab Filson Hunting Vest

Early (198x?) Filson catalog

Shopping From the Movies: The Queen

November 7th, 2006

Cribbed from a Barbour corporate website press release:

When ‘The Queen’ opened in New York recently, no-one could have imagined the dramatic effect it would have on the Barbour store in Manhattan. The film, which covers the days after Princess Diana’s death, has created great interest amongst Americans and the Barbour store has suddenly found themselves inundated with requests for the Barbour jacket worn by Helen Mirren who portrays the Queen in the movie.

“The first thing they say is “have you seen the movie The Queen?” said Maggie Archambault, manager of the Barbour by Peter Elliot store in Madison Avenue, Manhattan, “Then they say they want the jacket that the Queen is wearing.”

The jacket in question is the Beaufort jacket, one of Barbour’s classic signature wax jackets, made in South Shields and a long time favourite amongst people who live and work in the country. The film also features the quilted Liddesdale jacket popular amongst both fashionistas and the country set alike.

Claire Saunders, Head of Marketing said, “Barbour is a leading British brand renowned for producing high quality, stylish and practical clothing. The attention that has been generated, particularly in New York, around our Beaufort and Liddesdale jackets after they appeared in ‘The Queen’ has been phenomenal, and we are delighted that with this increased interest we have had the opportunity for more customers to experience just how good our clothing is.”