I am always striving to document my leather jacket project down to the last detail. Sometimes it seems absurd to share as many moments as I do. I think about why I try to blog about my brand and the answer I come up with is to share the experience of building my company from the ground up. Each move, each meeting is like a piece on a chessboard. I am learning as I go. After attending Rin Tanaka’s Inspiration Show for two years running I was considering not making it down this year. I was thinking that way until I received a call that a very exciting new Japanese magazine was going to feature a story on my new brand in the centerfold. The magazine was launching its promotional edition on the Queen Mary for the Inspiration show. I couldn’t miss it! As soon as the news was out I received phone calls from my old friends in vintage, customers and my new friends in fashion all asking me if I was coming down. Well that sealed the deal. Pack the bags and time to get some sun. I had to assemble all the new jackets that I had been working on, and come up with some emergency printed material. Luckily I had been working on catalogs and hang tags in the evenings leading up to the event so with some last minute tweaks it was off to the printers.
Nancy and I hauled ourselves onto a flight to L.A. Well lucky me we found a direct flight, unlucky me some guy coughing with the flu in the seat behind me infected me and yet again I was going to spend my first 4 days in sunshine feeling like a corpse. Never mind that…there is nothing like the lights of Las Vegas to signal the approach into LAX. Unplug the headphones and prepare for rentals and warmth I say! First order of duty check into the Beverly Laurel hotel.Â One of the few hotels that Nancy will let me stay at. Second call straight to Canters for a late night tongue sandwich! We got up early, down to the iconic Swingers restaurant and off to check out the best stores in Los Angeles. I will write about those stores on my other blog The Art of Vintage Leather Jackets…but lets just say I saw some old friends like Christophe and met some new friends like Davide and Blair!Â L.A. is a wild place on wheels!
I was tempted to dig out an old magazine ad from the late 1930s showing Miller belts. Why you ask? Well way back in the day when things were slower and just plain better this weird tradition of Native and American folk art intermixed and made a baby. Indian and Mexican studding and conchos cross fertilized rebellious American cowboy culture and motor culture and studded belts were born. Traditional cool warrior cultures fertilized the new terrain and men took their spare time and skills and built shiny spotty armour. From these traditions of studded leather, more commercialized versions started appearing in department store catalogues. Soon entire companies rose up to make what became traditional and in some cases nontraditional or custom spot patterns.
From Wards and Miller to the mists of time I have collected many hundreds of these spotted commercial and custom belts. As part of my Himel Brothers project my good friend Kat has customized some belts in Japan and is going to offer very special hand-made belts and wallets here at Himelbros.com . Kat is an expert on 1930’s style and carefully researched techniques and aesthetics of these early belts and wallets.Â He orders his leather and spots from the U.S.A. He uses only the finest vegetable tanned belt blanks, hand stamps and colours them and individually sets the spots (metal studs) one by one. Cut a hole set a spot and push in the prongs. Each belt is finished with a New Old Stock original period Navajo stamped belt buckle. I have a very limited supply of original buckles straight from the past. There is no fake aging in slow leather making.Â The spirit of Wabi Sabi is in play. The leather will stain and develop the character of its owners. So as you wear it, it will interact and take on the shape, scars and character of its owner. We are offering ready-made versions of these fine belts on the website in the Drygoods section, and we are now able to make custom orders if you need it The wallets are hand cut, stitched and finished with nice polished edges. These are really beautiful icons or artifacts, and everyone deserves one good thing!
I completed a special project a few weeks back. Here at Himel Brothers we strive for authenticity and ultimate creativity. I have a huge collection of vintage leather jackets and being small I am capable of small run special projects.
One of the special qualities of custom jackets made before 1930 was the raw custom nature of the techniques that went into their making. The reality is many of the tailors that sewed leather jackets pre 1930 had little experience in mass production. The pattern making skills were often intuitive, the sewing techniques were usually crude and rudimentary. Jacket makers would either be copying something that they had seen in a publication or just a simple interpretation of something from memory. There were few sewing standards and pattern making techniques pre WW 2. The primitive nature of these jackets is very hard to “recapture” both in technique and spirit because of the random beauty of the intuitive design.
I own thousands of jackets. I love leather and developed a crazed passion for collecting and dissecting the nature of these jackets. My Heron jacket is one of the results of my passion for patterns. My new friend Roger of VMC Originals asked me to do a very special project of super authentic Herons.
Back in the day leather jackets were mostly work wear. Leather shells were super tough but often even after being resewn the linings were not either tough enough or warm enough for the inclement conditions that workers of the 1920s might have to endure. Often the jackets would go back the tailor to have a old tired blanket sewn in to provide extra warmth. What better way to keep a good and expensive garment working for you then to repurpose a warm old wool blanket into a liner. I own many such jackets with custom blanket liners. Here is my version of blanket liners in my Heron’s available exclusively at VMC in Switzerland. Each jacket became a unique artwork combining the beauty of the past with the resurrection of new horsehide leather shells!