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!
I spent the better part of last week developing some new ideas for my jackets. I have a whack of designs that I am working out for some very exclusive retailers. A lot of my experience working and hanging out with other designers as well as my fascination with odd and old designs has led me down the road of mixed media.Â That is to say, the beauty of old world materials like wool, leather and oil skin cotton should be mixed and matched to create beautiful well balanced jackets. Usually I make smaller prototypes and have friends try them on. Winter is approaching and I wanted to make two jackets I could wear in the cold. I wanted them to be warm and in the case of the oilskin, moderately water proof.
This is Italian dark brown horsehide, with black oilskin and 1930s ball and chain chest zippers mixed with old stock lightning cuff zippers. The inside is thick heavy Melton wool body liner and cotton twill sleeves.
The second jacket is a perfect blend of European veg. tanned goat skin, in two tones, with plaid wool body and a beige flannel liner. Nice for mid weather, I used my deadstock 1930s urethane rimmed buttons and an nice simple tube cut. It really creates a balance of simple beauty and nice details. The A gusset stands out in leather against the dark rich greens of the plaid. I think these are really beautiful but I wont know until I wear them out in the world and see what my friends think!
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!