FWA Number 13 – The Trophy Clothing Reservoir Hood

Image

It’s at this point where I think I should draw attention to the elephant in the room so to speak, which is that I am sure some people are thinking “He only ever really talks about relatively few brands”, well that is true but it doesn’t mean that I have no experience of other brands. I have, through a process of trial, error and experimentation, arrived at the point where I am comfortable with how a few brands do things, and therefore they form the core of my “stuff”, I’m sure that most of you work the same way. To reach this stage I have tried things by lots and lots of different brands which for one reason or another has not worked out for me, some issues of sizing, some of style and some of quality. So anyway, back to Trophy Clothing….

Image

The Reservoir Hood is a flannel lined, hooded waxed coat which incorporates the practical elements of a vintage waxed moto jacket in the mould of Belstaff or Barbour and mixes them in with features from the even more practically designed N-1 deck coat and G-1 flight jacket. It is mid weight, surprisingly breathable whilst also being warm and understated in its design whilst also being absolutely gorged with features and neat little touches of flourish. The cut is a classic boxy work cut with a very slight taper in the body to give it a little bit of shape and contemporise it slightly whilst not removing the ability to layer for the colder months. It is also perhaps the most neatly stitched piece of clothing that I own, there are literally no stitching flaws that I can find anywhere, every seam is tight and secure.

Image

The exterior is made from a lightly waxed durable cotton canvas, I prefer a heavy waxed finish so I am rewaxing mine every 3 or 4 months to slowly build a complete layer of protection, the interior is lined with a soft, bushed Japanese flannel material which I know has been used for shirts by a couple of other manufacturers, here it lines everywhere except the one chest pocket. There are 2 generous pouch pockets which are layered with hand warmer pockets (G1 style) and a single chest pocket, the cuffs and throat latch are all lined with soft and thick corduroy for comfort, this is a nice touch. The metal clips are made of black anodised steel and the zipper is a Talon whilst even the draw strings of the hood are brass tipped.

Image

On the very first day I became aware of Trophy Clothing this was the item which most impressed me and I instinctively knew that this jacket, perhaps more than any other item of clothing that I own, is “my style” if I have such a thing. When it arrived I was actually nervous that it would fit me as the largest size available was labelled as a 42, thankfully they are extremely generously cut and the 42 has an actual chest measurement closer to 46. I give the Reservoir Hood FWA status as it is everything I ever wanted in a jacket, and I know that with proper maintenance it will be with me for the duration and embrace old age with a grace that its owner will probably not.

Image

Image

Image

Denim HQ – From Field To Legs, With Trophy Clothing Dirt Denim – Picture Special

The following pictures were provided to me by the owner of Trophy Clothing, Masaki Egawa to illustrate the full manufacturing process of their jeans. I think they provide a great insight into exactly what high end Japanese companies go through to get their jeans on your legs.

Image

Image

 

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Denim HQ – NoKipple Focus – Good People Make Good Things, Good Things Endure, Relationships Matter

Image

When we first started conceiving the idea which would in time become NoKipple these things were at the forefront of our minds. There is a pervasive arrogance about high fashion that is generally not found in the niche of high end work wear, it is replaced with pride in creation and an attention to detail that is not seen in other areas of the clothing industry. You could argue that a major factor in this has been the prevalence of Japan as the manufacturing and design fulcrum, with the famous Japanese attention to detail setting the standard which must now be achieved if you want to succeed or be taken in any way seriously, but that surely cannot be all can it?

Image

When you take a look at the people running some of the top brands in our field you see that they are in many cases not just designers, they have experience in pattern making, or sewing or machining, some kind of manufacturing background which gives them a hands on appreciation of quality and detail. In other cases the brand owners have a long term association with collecting and studying vintage wears, breaking down examples of good sewing, looking for flaws to correct, and implementing design details long abandoned by modern manufacture in favour of the quick fix option offered by increased automation.

Image

It is a well documented fact that Haraki-San, owner of Iron Heart, worked for many years as a pattern maker for one of Japans other leading brands, Egawa-San owner of Trophy Clothing studied design and sewing before making the initial runs of Trophy jeans himself by hand. Over at Jelado Goto-San spent many years working in vintage clothing stores and identifying the good and bad in everything he saw, this experience has allowed him to bring a great wealth of real experience handling original vintage items to Jelado, and it shows, and over in Indonesia Bagus Satrio owner of Sagara is a fully trained boot maker with a wealth of knowledge about vintage footwear from all over the world.

Image

The collective experiences of brand owners give them a level of pride which filters throughout the consumers of their wares, the retailer and the customer know that if they stock or buy items from these brands then they are have something timeless in which they can place confidence for a long time to come, they do not make disposable items. It is a great criticism of the clothing industry that fashion is disposable, but this is not true of the things we love.

Image

Longevity of use is another key feature of premium denim and work wear, whilst it might be true that you could buy an aesthetically pleasing (to some) pair of jeans from high street retailer for much less than from one of the premium brands which are so widely coveted in our scene, it is also true to say that in most cases they will not look as good, or be made to such a high standard and certainly will not last as long. This longevity is possible because the brands truly understand the essence of work wear, the clothing may carry a premium price, but in most circumstance it will fulfil its task better than most other garments, and not only endure the tasks it will evolve through them, this evolution is a much valued commodity amongst enthusiasts, indeed we compete in a friendly manner to see who’s denim evolves the best through wear.

Image

Another key difference between our scene and high fashion is the relationships built between customers, retailers and brands. The level of interaction and input from all sides is unprecedented, in so much as in many cases customers can communicate directly with brands and interact socially with retailers and fellow enthusiasts. This builds relationships, which creates community and breeds loyalty from customer to retailer and brand, and uniquely vice versa. The importance of these relationships is what helps the community grow and welcome new people, that people are so accessible and the social side is so vibrant is what makes this all so much fun. With all the meet ups, competitions, shows and parties hosted by retailers and brands it is a thriving and vibrant international scene where genuine friendships are made.

Image

It is from and because of all this that NoKipple exists, we believe in what we do, who we work with and what we promote and sell. For us this market is getting wider in scope every year, new brands, new ideas and new customers can only make the community stronger, and we feel proud and privileged to be a part of that.

Image

FWA Number 12 – The Trophy Clothing Dirt Denim Jacket

Image

I should begin this post with a confession. The denim which this jacket is made from is my favourite denim in the world and I say that without a hint of bias bearing in mind my commercial involvement with Trophy Clothing (I believe in full disclosure). I received my first pair of Dirt Denim jeans before any such venture was in place and even if no relationship existed my feelings would be unchanged, it is absolutely incredible denim on a scale of denim nerdiness I have not previously experienced. That might sound like I am gushing, and if it does then you might want to skip the next paragraph where things are only going to get errrrr…….gushier (!?!).

Image

Where can I start when talking about Dirt Denim? Well to start with the basics it is a 14oz sanforised denim make in Kojima at a very small and old mill on vintage looms set to weave at an extremely low tension. What this low tension setting results in is a denim that positively oozes character from every yarn and thread of warp and weft. It has colour variation which is wild and exciting in its shades, whilst remaining subtle and natural, it has a hand feel that is both course and rough whilst remaining soft and pliable. From the surface of the denim raise peaks and canyons of threads, slubs and loom chatter, all delicately covered in a healthy but not overwhelming dusting of light cotton hairiness. If you need to imagine it, and you are familiar with some of the older denims, it is like a hybrid of the old style Samurai Jin denim and the original Oni Blue denim, if you are familiar with those two denims you will know just what level of character we are talking here.

Image

The material would probably have been enough to convince me that this jacket is worth serious consideration alone, but the unique design is what really pushed me over the edge. The design takes elements of other jackets, and elements which are uniquely Trophy, I am a particular fan of the mirrored pocket/ inner pocket design and the riveted pleats on the back. The cut of the jacket is also extremely flattering, it is waist length and cut to give the wearer a defined shape and accentuate the broadness of shoulders, it covers and improves upon a multitude of sins and makes even stout fellows like myself appear svelte.

Image

Moving forward to talk about how this thing wears in, the material fades to vast array of shades and tones of blue and grey all together, from the muted to the most stunningly vibrant royal and electric blues you can imagine, but it doesn’t give up its indigo easily. Stress point fade first and relatively quickly, lulling you into a false sense of security that you will be able to dominate this jacket early which is not the case. The creases which will become the combs of you arm folds wear in gradually even surprisingly until it takes your attention and you know that progress is being made.

Image

It is probably fairly easy to tell that I absolutely love this jacket, and yet I know that some people won’t. It is uneven, out of balance and distinctive enough not to be everyone cup of tea, as we say in England. I think this is a classic jacket made from a denim that warrants years rather than months of exploration and which I look forward to enjoying long into my advancing years, and for this reason it gets my FWA stamp of approval.

Image

Denim HQ – Picture Spread 1, Hanging Out with Iron Heart.

These picture spreads will each feature pictures from my personal archives.

Image

From the “Knights in White Denim” tour, also known as “White Trash” with Tommy and Giles Padmore of Iron Heart International.

Image

Tommy and I take in Times Square in NYC.

Image

Me @ SENY.

Image

Tommy reflected in the SENY window.

Image

Iron Heart boss Haraki-San finds the perfect way to keep Tommy calm.

Image

Beatle and I conspire over HWDC2.

Image

Beatle and Paula Padmore of IHUK try new marketing methods.

Image

Hard at work at the Chain Stitch Massacre.

Image

Junior of Rivet and Hide works his fingers to the bone.

Image

Ruedi of the The Jeans Museum and Danny of Rivet and Hide hang out after the CSM meal.

Image

Giles and Paula on the beach with a giant easter egg, not the most normal occurrence.

Denim HQ – Indigo travels, or days out with denim.

Image

I was born into a real working class English family in the latter part of the 1970’s, as a child my greatest influences were what I saw on television and my choice of viewing material was things like Starsky and Hutch, Godzilla movies and Ghostbusters. The result of these formative experiences and influences was that I always dreamed of New York and Tokyo, but due to the finances of my family I was most likely to stay in a guesthouse on the Lincolnshire coast, or at best a week on the Costa Del Sol through my teen years.

Image

Fast forward 10 years and now in gainful employment and without responsibility I was now able to self finance a trip to New York City, and it did not disappoint. Marriage quickly followed and my wife and I visited NYC a few times in the following years, getting engaged at the top of the Empire State building. Soon my wife was pregnant with our son Tommy and it was during this pregnancy that we first visited Tokyo, and in Tokyo I found Harajuku and in Harajuku I found the phenominon of the re-seller stores, and in one of these stores I bought two pairs of Japanese made selvedge denim jeans by New York skate clothing label Supreme. New York and Tokyo brought me to denim just as my childhood dreams had brought me to New York and Tokyo. Fate maybe.

Image

Since these early days I have returned to Japan for several visits with my family both concerning denim and not, been back to New York quite a few times both with a denim agenda and not, and have also been to other hubs of denim around the globe, from Singapore and Jakarta to Gosport. Although I have not travelled nearly as far or as often as some I still count myself extremely lucky to have been to the places I have been to, and met the people I have met, especially when I think about my childhood summers spent on Skegness beach, not that I would change them if I could.

Image

Hand in hand with the places we go are the people we meet, and my family and I have also been very lucky in this regard to have met some of the nicest, most genuine people on our denim travels. We have made some friends for life and been shown jaw dropping warmth and generosity by people with whom I have only communicated via the internet and had some fantastic times making memories that will stay with us long into our old age. Denim has been good to me, it hasn’t made me money (far from it), but it has made me wealthy in friends, experiences and stories that I’ll still be boring people with in the retirement village.

Image

Image

Denim HQ – What the hell is a denim contest?

Image

The denim contest is possibly the most difficult to understand concept for people outside of the quality denim sub culture, and even for some people who actually are into denim. So as the creator of the Heavyweight Denim Championship I’m going to have a go at explaining things how I see them.

Image

As a black a white explanation a denim contest is where a group of people wear their jeans for a pre agreed amount of time, the progress is followed by other contestants and the results are judged from which a winner is selected on the purely subjective field of whose jeans are the most aesthetically pleasing. The aesthetics upon which they are judged mainly include, but are not limited to, fades in the denim, evolution of the material and hardware and even the quality of any required repairs. This is the practical explanation of the denim contest, but I do not feel that it begins to explain the appeal of why I love them so much.

Image

If you are a fan of denim then it is a fairly safe bet that you spend a serious amount of time fixating over pictures of details and well worn jeans, a contest is simply a fantastic opportunity to see these picture en masse. To get abstract for a moment, it is more than this it is also a chance to be part of a group of people who are all on the same journey, a chance to see how their lives effect their denim just as you affect your own, a chance to interact with like minded people from all over the world having a shared experience through something as simple and socially transcending as jeans. In a denim contest it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what you do, it only matters that you wear jeans and you exist, your everyday life will take care of the rest. I believe that as a species we all like to belong, we like to take part and many of us are competitive with a desire to succeed. Being part of a denim contest identifies you within your sub culture, it gives you further validation for what you love (if you need it, and there is nothing wrong with that) whilst incorporating fun elements into committing yourself to a pair of jeans.

Image

I know that some brands and retailers worry that denim contests (particularly the HWDC) can limit their business as people are only wearing one pair of jeans, I don’t believe this to be the case with the majority. I have found that the majority of people who take part in contests rarely commit to one pair of jeans, I don’t, it seems to me that most people have their “contest” jeans plus at least one pair of other jeans to give them a break and some variation. I think that for retailers and brands it represents a fantastic opportunity to interact with the denim community on a wider level, an opportunity that some perhaps have not fully realised the potential of yet. In the last HWDC2 Iron Heart released a competition specific jean in their 25oz denim which was phenomenally popular and has yielded some of the most stunning progress in the contest so far, we also had a launch party to celebrate the arrival of the jeans at IHUKHQ which was again a great success and lots of fun. I have even roped in my 8 year old boy to the contest, and he loves it !

Image

Image

I think that one of the most valuable functions of the denim contest is welcome into the community people who are perhaps on the fringes, observing without interacting, it gives them a group and a platform from which they can become active on forums and social media, exactly as it did for me.

Image