A big part of my Himel Brothers project was to create a brand that celebrates being Canadian. So many clothing brands are secretly made here in Canada and so many Canadians are secretly living prominent lives in the good ole U.S.A. hiding their Canadian identities and I didn’t want to be one of them.
The names and themes of HBL celebrate all things Canadian, from my neighbourhood, to the animals and people that live here in the Great White North. One of my earliest supporters and customers was one of the few globally celebrated Canadian brand owners Bret Viberg of Viberg boots. Bret and I have become great friends, not only that but he has bought a couple of Himel Brothers jackets!
Another incredible talent that Bret has is his tremendous ability to collaborate. As a small growing business is it good to share information but collaboration is a key strategy for brand building. Bret has been a key supporter, spreading the word about Himel Brothers. When running micro brands you have to be on the constant hunt for new innovative materials, ideas and stock. I’ve been out searching old factories, looking at techniques to make authentic old style buttons, hunting down perfect leathers for my jackets and I’ve had a bunch of buddies to share information and resources with. Together we are going to put Canadian clothing proudly back on the list of cool brands and innovative design and production!
Well, … summer is over and fall has begun. I found out this year that my dad had cancer. This started a long process of trying to treat the cancer and then the realization that death was at our door. My dad died in July and I still find myself drifting about here and there thinking about him, me, my past, his past and my future.
I never really had a great relationship with my dad…that is to say I didn’t have one until the last few years. Since about the time my wife’s dad died I never really thought about my relationship with the old man. After that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I needed to do to try and catch up for lost years and repair the mistakes that both of us had made in the past. I spent a lot of time filling up old psychological ditches and trying to build some nice times with dad. It certainly helped that Nancy and him got along like peas in a pod.
Calvin Himel as a Boy
My Grandfather and his two brothers in the clothing business
Calvin Himel University of Toronto
My Dad graduating Medical School
For a guy that spends most of his time thinking about the past, and nostalgia and vintage…the strangest part for me of losing a parent is losing all those old memories and stories that only my dad knew. Some he shared like old bedtime stories about his youth long past..adventures of young men, friends and family long buried, but most were lost forever into the blur of the past. For all his faults, my dad was a real character, and I was pretty similar to him in personality. He grew up during the war living in a two bedroom apartment with a large family above a schmata” store. There was never any question that my dad would be a doctor and not in clothing business. Dad faced his share of anti-semitism, adversity and hardship but he was from an era where adversity was normal and it was a mans job to suck it up and never flinch. This made for some pretty tough distant dads. I try as I get older not to judge the past, realizing how hard it is to get it together in our lives. I believe that my dad like so many dads, had good intentions and that the life of a father in the 1960s had a completely different context then today. A life lived well, and with good intention should be honoured. Even though I did not have a lifetime of perfect memories I managed some really really good ones over the last 8 years and those made his death more bearable. RIP Dr. Calvin Himel