New Jackets….Finishing Christmacha Orders

Well its the holidays around here and between shopping for friends and family, and throwing a rockin partaaay over here in Himel central, Nancy has to tolerate my last minute rush to get Christmas orders out the door.  A few lucky fellows ordered jackets at the end of November and while it was a challenge I am finishing them on Christmas Eve.  Granted I am going to be running to my moms for dinner…I liked the way they looked so much that I thought I would do a quick post and share.  So posting in haste …post haste seems to be the order of my afternoon.  The buffalo bear jacket is the third one I have made in 2 months.  Luckily this one is my size so I get to try the 48 on and see how the jacket actually looks and wears. The dark brown Heron has a new burgandy wool lining that I just recently got in and it looks wicked!  I love making jackets and so far the feed back has been wonderful.  Mailing em next week!!!!

 


Vintage Meets New: Special Order Heron’s for Roger and VMC

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!


Where Did I Come From: Designing Herons

 

I sometimes loath to write blogs.  I feel tired, run down, exhausted and weird about sharing.  I am trying to win people over, get fans, find followers and mostly explain the things I think about all day long.  Sometimes I just don’t feel like sharing.  Today is the opposite.  I was photographing jackets that I made over the last 3 months and thought “how do I describe what goes into these jackets.”.  I think about price and brand all the time.  I definitely do not want to “go off brand” or make a “bad image” for myself. Sometimes I worry and even get hatemail and nasty commentary.

I guess part of the benefit of hanging it out in the world is the great feedback that you get.  Part of the cost is the bad feedback and the naysayers that try and knock you down.  This project is expensive and hard, and tough, and demoralizing at times.  It is also new and invigorating and a journey into my past, family life and reviving history and making beautiful things.  Hopefully I will turn it into making a living one day too.  This post is about how I came up with my first design.  I thought it might help to understand what I am trying to create over here at HBL.

I have been very very proud of my heritage.  Not just my culture, not my family but everybody and everything that went into creating the great North American brands.  Yes many many of the creators were Jewish, or American, or Canadian, but these histories were also built by immigrants of Irish, Italian and European descent, great Empire brands of the colonial period and the roots of North American settlement and the interaction with indigenous peoples here.  I am trying to assemble all these threads into my jackets.  My first design was the Heron.  I drew rough sketches on a canoe trip into the wilderness of Ontario.  I realized that my brand needed to bring back the genius of many Canadian brands that had been lost.  In the vintage business there is often a belief that all the good brands only came from the U.S.A. with a little room for English brands and others.   In my opinion  Canada and the U.S. were an integrated immigrant community and I don’t think this concept that good brands were strictly American holds up historically.  I celebrate Canadian names and some Canadian jacket motifs, mostly I celebrate the history of beautiful jackets and am trying to recreate the spirit of that past in my jackets.  There were so many connections between manufacturers and companies and families and there is a history gap between vintage lovers and the makers of great vintage brands.

I saw a Heron on that trip and the majestic fisher was going to be my first jacket.  I knew I wanted to make an A-1 style jacket.  I had 20 years of experience looking and and selling vintage jackets but I know nothing of design and making a jacket reality.  The sketch is the first step.  I assembled a silhouette of the Heron and started to try and imagine the perfect parts to make it.  Here are the pictures from the early designs. I wanted to try and crawl into the headspace of a 1920s jacket maker and come up with the most authentic purpose built design possible!