In the denim scene a grail item is something which we aspire to own but may find difficult to acquire due to its rarity, its age, its prohibitive price or its popularity. Most of us have items which we refer to as our grails, they may not even be the best item of their category, but to us they are the ultimate goal of our desires. I love to hear what people consider as their grail items as it is in a very real sense an expression of what our personal style would be should we be able to fulfil our hearts desires, although that aspect is lessened when you consider just how close to the top of tree most of the popular items in this market are. Nevertheless, I will attempt to compile a short list of grail items which I would be hunting if a significant amount of money became available to me.
Dita Grandmaster IV
I love Dita frames, and the Grandmaster IV is Dita’s ultimate frame. I use the term ultimate as it is crafted with no expense spared, gold plate titanium hinges, gold detailing and lower lens rims and hand made in Japan from zhyl acetate, and hard resin made from natural cotton. The Grandmaster IV will not be to everyone’s taste, in fact it is probably not to many peoples taste as it is brash, bold and borderline offensive, but I think it’s great. It is everything I love about Dita, it’s a luxury statement which also performs its job admirably, which I guess it should for $800.
White Kloud Ankle Boots
For these boots I have to take back virtually everything that I have said previously about boots, about subtle beauty and about wearing boots throughout your life and aging them gracefully, I think these boots are so pretty that I would be almost scared to wear them. Not many agree with me, my wife thinks that they look like orthopaedic footwear, but I think that are completely breathtaking, in a good way. I did actually try to buy a pair of these and they are not as ludicrously expensive as I thought they might be (depending on options you take you are looking at Viberg type pricing), but the hitch is that you have to go to Goto-Sans workshop outside of Tokyo to be personally fitted for a pair, and that is the only way you are going to get any. One day…..
I actually owned these jeans, and stupidly sold them on. They were known as the “Dior cut” on some denim forums as they were cut similarly to the popular made in Japan jeans by designer label Dior. The Dior jeans were much loved for their flattering cut which was slim but not hugging and suited a much wider range of body types than almost any other cut available. Couple this with Iron Hearts signature 21oz denim in an over dyed form and you have a serious winner. I still haven’t found a cut which fits quite as well as the SExIH01, Trophy Clothing’s Dirt Denim Narrow is very, very close but the top block is slightly narrower on the Trophy jeans.
Jelado Rockstar Leather Jacket
On a trip to Tokyo in 2013 I have the particular pleasure of visiting the Jelado showroom in Ebisu and speaking with Yohei Goto, owner of Jelado, about the process he goes through to configure a new garment. The item which he used to demonstrate his process was a Jelado leather jacket, one of a wide range which they have made to order, this jacket was not the object of my grail desire but his explanation and passion made me look at their entire range of designs, and it was there that I first saw it.
The Jelado process is to find rare and beautiful vintage items which were manufactured the “right” way, deconstruct them, learn from them and implement that learning and further improvements in each of their vintage inspired clothing lines. The leather jackets by Jelado are the ultimate expression of this.
IHSH-20 – Blue
Iron Heart are exceptional at many things, but I think one of their major strengths is in the heavyweight flannel shirt, and I have owned a few. To wear one can only be compared to wearing a comfortable carpet, which is almost entirely wind proof, they are unlike any other flannel you will ever try. So thick and worm are they that I have worn them in the depths of winter in lieu of an actual winter coat, they are that warm.
The IHSH-20 was one of the first Iron Heart flannels, and reputedly the heaviest. Blue is the most sought after colour way, referred to as the “cookie monster” amongst fans it is the grail for many a collector of classic Iron Heart. I have had the opportunity to buy one before, but never when I have had the money to buy one. It will come at the right time one day.
Goro Takahashi died this year, and we lost a truly magnificent craftsman of silver and leather. Goro was taught to craft leather by American GI’s during the occupation of Japan after the Second World War, but he had to actually travel to the States in the 60’s to learn silver craft where he spent several years living with a tribe of Sioux Indians on their reservation and was given the name “Yellow Eagle” by the medicine man there. Goro had an unmatched level of authenticity and an unparalleled level of skill, his jewellery was only ever available from his Harajuku store and you could only buy what he had chosen to make for sale on that particular day, and only then if he and his staff thought the item matched your personality. I love this kind of what many would see as cranky behaviour, and we may never see his like again.
Vintage Rolex Submariner
James Bond may wear an Omega these days, and he may have flirted with Seiko’s in the 90’s but he was written as wearing a Rolex Submariner, and that is the watch he wore on screen throughout the heady days of the 60’s and 70’s hey day of Bond movies. From a very early age this association with Bond made quite an impression on me, at a time when all the big action stars were American James Bond was our British salvation, his style, calmness under pressure and wit were what a generation of British youth aspired to in the early 80’s, so the Rolex Submariner became the first watch which I genuinely lusted after, and still do.
Doing even the slightest bit of research into this iconic time piece only serves to strengthen that desire also. Bond was not the only famous wearer of a Submariner, they were the favoured wrist clock of luminaries such as Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger too, and during WW2 if a POW wrote to Rolex from their prison camp they would receive a watch free of charge for their bravery and endurance, though not a Submariner as this model was introduced in 1953 (thanks for the correction Uwe). The submariner may have lost its cool to some watch aficionados, but to me it is something which will forever represent style, opulence and reliability.