Showing posts with label Leather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leather. Show all posts

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Details... Leather collage

Whilst bouncing from store to store on her recent jaunt to Tokyo, Susie hopped in to the sidecar of the Blackmeans bike. As she whizzed through the bustling city she became transfixed on the Japanese label's very own Yujiro Komatsu's outfit and snapped a few detail shots of this fast moving collage of leather...


Utilising the experience of Japan's finest leather craftsmen, Blackmeans takes great pleasure in reinterpreting historic, ethnic cloth-cutting techniques in an innovative way that has kept it at the forefront of the 'New Tokyo' movement since its inception in 2008. Unsurprisingly, Yujiro Komatsu wears it well.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Loewe's Reporter

On a day that I am reluctant to do anything but lounge around the flat in my pyjamas, it is a little absurd to post about a reporter bag. There will be no acts of Lois Lane style journalism today. However, in the not too distant past I do recall a time in which I was not comatosed through this combination of over indulgence and classic film marathon which found me reporting on Stockholm Fashion Week for Bon. As I hopped from show to presentation to show again with film crew in tow my Swedish design investigation was aided by a borrowed beauty. A double pocket reporter bag by Loewe... 

Suit by Comme des Garçons Ganryu, silk shirt by Tim Soar, hi tops by Lanvin, 
pyramid stud by Bunney and reporter bag by Loewe.

Now, regular readers will know that I normally transport my blogging paraphernalia (camera, dictaphone and notebook etc) in one of my many backpacks but for this trip I was able to road test a nappa leather satchel. My long standing allegiance with rucksacks was forgotten the moment my fingers touched its butter soft body. I'm fickle with luggage.

What makes Loewe's leather so special? Well, Spain is internationally renowned for the quality of its lambskin and only the finest hides find themselves at Loewe. "Cordero entrefino español" refers to lambs bred in the cool heights of the Spanish Pyrenees. Ultrasoft, organically-dyed skins of only 0.7 mm in thickness are achieved by a unique combination of painstaking hand-buffing followed by a final polishing with glass cylinders. Yet even after all this, Loewe’s leather experts accept just three per cent of the leather produced. As a result, Loewe's napa has an unrivalled softness, suppleness and sheen. Everything that Loewe does comes back to the senses. I was seduced by its touch for the entire trip...

A closer look at my (working) holiday romance

Thursday, 5 April 2012

In the ring with Ally Capellino

As disorientated industry folk intricately weave their way across town and back, leaving well thumbed rails, lipstick stained Prosecco glasses and well gnawed ham and cheese platters in their wake, it can only be Press Day season. Despite not having the time to explore as many as I would normally venture to, this season's conveyor belt of well stocked rails and air kisses has left me day dreaming about my favourite season, Autumn. As PRs open their doors and serve up their roster of AW12 talent, it gives us another excuse to take a closer look at a few of our favourite collections whilst making a few discoveries along the way. One such discovery was Ally Capellino's well crafted celebration of the upcoming arrival of the Olympic circus with a limited edition boxing bag. 

Ally Capellino have been based in Londonʼs East end for over thirty years and the Olympics have spurred a naive curiosity to better understand boxing and how the sport touches lives within their neighbourhood. Inspired by the areas links with the sport, the sights, sounds and smells of the gym, the result is a stunning bag full of considered detail...

Now, I'm a lover not a fighter but this is worth getting in the for...

The bag will be available exclusively at Liberty and in Ally Capellino stores from July 2012. A book of photographs by Alex Sturrock taken at boxing gyms including the Hackney boxing academy and the Lynn ABC has also been published to coincide with the launch. The result is an oversized publication, incorporating a series of accompanying texts which aim to give some insight into the characters in the images with all proceeds going to boxing charities including London Ex-Boxers. The book will be limited to an edition of 1,500 and will launch on the 4th July. Put em up.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Picks from Loewe's archive

Loewe - Archive Feature

France has Hermès and Louis Vuitton, Belgium has Delvaux and Spain has Loewe. All are luxury leather brands that have become well crafted institutions in their own lands whilst attracting the aspirational glances of us all. Last week, myself and Susie were invited to experience Loewe in its birthplace of Madrid after toasting the opening of its newly renovated store on Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona and having been one of the first to experience the multimedia experience that is Galleria Loewe. Over a period of thirty six hours we explored the Flamenco heart of the House, looked back on its origins, evolution and learned about its hopes for the future. In the coming week or so we will post a number of features (including an epic on its artisanal workshop) but for the opening piece we wanted to introduce you to Loewe before sharing a few of the items that caught our eye from their well stocked archive.

Before we talk about its unique napa as soft as velvet or its artisans that are so skilled they can make super-soft unlined bags where the interior is as perfect as the exterior, the first real question when faced with the "Hermes of Spain" is, and this something that has stumped me before, is how to say it? The answer is “low-ay-ve.” With that out of the way, we can continue. Founded in 1846, it is one of the oldest purveyors of luxury leather goods in the world. From its beginnings in a tiny workshop in Madrid in 1846 to its global standing today, Loewe has carefully stitched its reputation on the passion and skill with leather that has been handed down from generation to generation. Conceived in a narrow back street, a group of leather artisans struggled to meet demand for tobacco pouches, coin purses, boxes, bags and cigar cases. In 1872, Enrique Loewe Roessberg forges his expertise in leather with that of these local craftsmen, with such success that by the 1890s, aristocrats are finding their way to another small street, calle del Príncipe, and the first shop to bear the Loewe name above the door. Inside, everything is made-to-order, custom created to the whims and fancies of the ladies and gentleman of the court.

In 1905, as wedding fever griped the Spanish capital, the new King and Queen, Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia - the latter the niece of Britain's Queen Victoria – granted Loewe the honour of the official title of “Supplier to the Royal Court”. For ladies, a handbag in iguana, crocodile or snake from the firm, now helmed by the founder's son, Enrique Loewe Hilton, it become the ultimate symbol of elegance and refinement. Throughout the “roaring twenties”, the smart set flocked to Loewe stores in both Madrid and Barcelona for dainty handbags for the ladies and, for the discerning gentlemen, vanity cases stocked with the necessities for shaving, fashioned out of silver. Long before the Flamenco or Amazono were even conceived, Loewe produced all manner of trinkets of luxury, from travel trunks in all sizes, embossed photograph albums in which to record lazy days spent at San Sebastián and Santander to tobacco music boxes. It is this era of luxury that interests me most today. Below are a selection of items from Loewe's archive that captured my imagination...

A wooden tobacco music box in pressed leather decorated in an intricate gold leaf border.

A religious gift presented to King Alfonso XIII

Two stunning card holders.

A time before our reliance on google maps... a map case with the original map and compass inside.

A document holder from 1955.

A travel case concerned with offering everything a gentleman could ever need.
Marking down the days Loewe style.

The above selection might feel as though they are artefacts of forgotten time but production of Loewe's handmade goods has changed very little since the Spanish company's first store opened in 1846. The only real difference is that the House has evolved from offering just small leather goods to crafting all manner of accessories, ready to wear, made to measure and even perfumes. Today, Loewe represents the very best of Spanish luxury with over one hundred and sixty stores worldwide. Inside its recently renovated store (designed by Peter Marino) on Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona I was drawn to a shrine of made to measure menswear. What more could a man need?

Dressing each morning would be so much more fun with one of these at my disposal.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Unpicking the seams...H by Harris for GQ iPad Case

H by Harris for GQ iPad Case

To coincide with the launch of the the GQ iPad App,  H by Harris has collaborated with the gentleman's monthly to create a limited edition case. It is the perfect match up. Harris' personal need to find a stylish yet practical laptop case has continued to evolve into a thoroughly modern, yet understated luxury luggage brand which is designed and manufactured in the UK. As with all of the carefully crafted accessories that he produces, the exclusive case is an item that fuses function with design. Hand crafted from luxurious Navy hide leather, the interior features contrast grey suede lining, a card holder and space for documents. It turns my indifference towards the machine in to longing. I need an iPad just so I have an excuse to possess this case, to be able to stroke the quilted butter soft hide. However, before rushing off to the Apple store, we sat down with the designer to learn more about the collaboration and the item itself... 

A closer look at that butter soft Dallas leather

SS: How did the collaboration with GQ come about?
Harris Elliott: As with most good things, it started with a simple conversation, i was chatting to Robert and Vanessa at GQ about the different projects they were planning regarding the launch of the GQ App.... Then it became obvious that we should try and do something.

SS: What was the initial starting point for the item?
Harris Elliott: Luxury, protection and style. I wanted it to be one of those pieces that had it's own identity.

SS: Why attracted you to designing an ipad case?
Harris Elliott: GQ were launching their iPad app for their October issue. They had released a pilot issue in July which was amazing, everyone I showed the app to, couldn't believe that magazines had reached that stage of digital development. So it made sense to create a new luxe case to commemorate the launch.


SS: How did you go about stamping your take on this accessory?
Harris Elliott: One of the H by Harris trademarks is quilting, we used the quilt so people would know it was an H by Harris design.

SS: This season marks a shift in your quilted offering. We've all grown accustomed to seeing the diamond quilted (Q1) skin but now we are introduced to the striped quilting. Could you talk us through this introduction?
Harris Elliott: Since day one I had planned on introducing new styles and leather/fabric applications. My head is always two steps or a year ahead of reality. So AW11 became the time to introduce the stripe. Inspired by the shoulder padding on old motorcycle jackets, this style is very popular with boys, so it was the obvious choice for the GQ man.

SS: Could you talk us through some of the technical processes and people involved in making the case?
Harris Elliott: Robert Johnston (GQ features editor) and myself discussed the features that we felt an iPad case for a guy should have. So a space for cards and possibly a passport, seemed like a nice touch.

The leather we used is called Dallas, a butter soft hide with a slight creamy texture. Unlike nappas that H by Harris uses a lot, you can see and feel the grain of the leather, so the luxe look is in shape and form.

We worked with a sign writer, and an old school book binders to produce hand printed cards, with double foil blocking.

Of course there were the artisans that put it together....

A closer look at the personalisation

SS: Did you encounter any problems? How were they resolved?
Harris Elliott: The initial problem was time, we had two months to produce the cases from start to normally have much longer than that from sketch to end user. We had a week to produce the initial prototype which was stressy as the first proto had to be almost spot on.... Thankfully it was.

SS: How would you describe the finished piece in your own words?
Harris Elliott: Contemporary luxury, I can always tell how good something is, when people instantly comment on a product, pick it up and caress it before being asked their opinion.

SS: I notice a bit of personalisation on some of the cases, is this a new way forward for H by Harris?
Harris Elliott: Definitely, it's something we've planned to introduce for a while. In the past we have created metal plates and embossed customers names into the leather labels for them. Scriptwriting takes it to the next level, it makes the item completely exclusive, because of the hand craft nature, therefore increasing the personal value that a customer places on their purchase.

We work with an amazing sign writer who hand paints typography for art installations. It's been a pleasure working with him.

The sign writer in action.

A limited number of cases will soon be available on the wonderfully revamped H by Harris site. Each case can be hand personalised by the script writer.

Monday, 5 September 2011

When passions collide

There are few occassions where my two passions, Arsenal and menswear, collide. Despite being well designed and showcasing the very latest in fabric design, football shirts should not be considered as anything more than football shirts. In fact, I've often revelled in keeping them seperate and only those of you who follow my personal twitter ramblings will realise just how obsessed I am by the red and white half of North London. However, this year marks the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of Arsenal and to honour this landmark, their kit sponsor Nike reimagined one of their own most iconic pieces, the NSW Destroyer jacket. In a combination of tradition and modern motifs, the sportswear giant created an ideal jacket for the terraces. Packed full of detailing that celebrate the history of the club it is a truly special anniversary item. Thanks to the generous folk at Nike I have one of the limited editions jacket, which I tried on for size whilst walking the short distance down the road to the relatively new home of Arsenal, the Emirates.

Now that my mind is buzzing with memories of being an Arsenal fan, I'm reminded that there was a time when I hated football. My Dad would try in vain to tempt me to watch George Graham's Arsenal grind out results but I preferred to play with my Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles in my tiny box room. On any given match day I wanted to be far away from the nervous atmosphere of the living room as he would pace up and down the thick brown carpet (it was the 80s afterall) muttering obscenities mixed in with player's names and commentator back talk. As a toddler I just could not understand this religion cloaked in red and white and how it had such control over the mood of the house.

Proudly wearing my first full Arsenal kit alongside my best friend Stephen Love.

However, one day this fog of confusion was lifted. I cannot recall the exact instant but I can remember a particular moment in 1989. The living room was tense after a long tight season, Arsenal were away at Anfield and we were about to snatch the title at the very last minute. Even now I can hear my Dad screaming "Shoot...shoooooot" the moment Michael Thomas picked up the ball from Alan Smith's delicate dink. In an instant, fear, frustration and agony were replaced with relief, elation and sheer delight. The sight and sound of my Dad in the throws of football ecstacy could well have been the moment I too fell in love with the game.

I'm not sure what I'm doing here, I'm either exicted to be wearing the kit or in desperate need of the loo.

However, it was upon my first visit to Highbury that I fully understood the allure of the Gunners. Despite watching Arsenal lose one nil in a terribly dull ninety minutes against Blackburn, I was hooked on the match day ritual. The drive to London, the pre-game drink and meet up, the carnival like march to the stadium, the collective chorus of the fans, the fact that nothing else matters in that hour and a half. In the years that have followed I have been seduced by the sweat and tears that surely follow The Arsenal. From the machine like defence honed by Graham, to Bruce Rioch marking a new dawn with the signing of Bergkamp through to Wenger's entertaining invincibles I've followed it all with beating heart and open mouth. Adams, Wright, Limpar, Pires, Henry, Vieira have all been idolised only to be replaced by a new breed as the next incarnation of greatness lac up their boots and step out on to the hallowed turf. Much to the frustation of friends and family, the game has made and broken many a weekend ever since and will no doubt continue to do so ever more. Come on you reds...

Trying on the limited edition NSW Jacket on for size outside of Arsenal's home, the Emirates. Teamed up the special jacket with a breton top by Le Minor, chinos by Dockers and my well worn Kudu boots from Lodger.

Emblazoned across the chest is a felt and leather ‘A’ applique taken from the old AFC crest.

The right wrist features an embroidered AFC graphic referencing the initialled monogram badge originally only worn for high-profile matches

One of my favourite details. Satin stiched to the the left sleeve are leather appliques of historic Arsenal Football Club crests. The one pictured here is the first one I kissed back when I first fell in love with the club.

How many teams have a latin motto? Arsenal's very own 'Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (Victory grows out of harmony) is worn proudly on the right sleeve

The ghosts of Ted Drake, Herbert Chapman, David Rocastle and so many more are sewn in to the very seams of this jacket. Similarly, the greats of Arsenal surround the stadium. Here I am in front of the 'oh so dreamy' Bobby Pires.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Details: Close up on a Labrat

One of the Labrat team wearing the collection oh, so well. The combination of leather and distressed cotton caught my eye.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Discovering Tokyo... Labrat


Discovering Labrat

Now, you might have noticed that the blog has been quiet recently. I landed in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon and I've since spent the last few days drunk on food and shopping. When I've not been stuffing my face with sashimi, gyozas, tonkatsu or yakitori, my mind has been blown by the myriad of retail opportunities and discovering designers at every turn. Alongside my recent trip to Singapore I have amassed enough content to keep the blog busy for weeks to come. Whilst I promised myself (and EJ) that I would use this time to take a little blogging holiday to just enjoy myself, I just couldn't resist sharing a few of my finds with you. First up, Labrat via BerBerJin.

BerBerJin are a chain of vintage shops in that have been at the heart of the thriving men’s vintage scene in Tokyo for well over a decade. They have always stocked museum quality examples of international vintage, but recently they creative minds behind it have collaborated with like minded brands to produce items that compliment their beautiful back catalogue and archive. Under the moniker Labrat, the talented bunch romanticise the hardcore and celebrate the underground. Thanks to the well informed Mai, I was pointed in the direction of an exhibition of their AW11 collection and excitedly jumped at the chance to inspect the pieces up close. I was blown away by the attention to detail, fabrications and sheer diversity of their offering. For this season alone they have collaborated with the likes of Blackmeans, George Cox, Porter, Vision, CA4LA, Black &Blue and Discovered. I think the best way to explore the full AW11 line is to introduce the collaborative lineup whilst taking a closer look at the designs...

With each season, Discovered turn to the streets of Tokyo for inspiration. From Shibuya down through Harajuku, the designer duo Tatsuya Kimura and Sanae Yoshida collate and reinterpret the varied styles to create multi faceted designs. The pair like nothing more than juxtaposing contradictory themes and here they have created stunning Aran knits for oversized shorts and jumpers...





The Aran knitted shorts and jumpers in collaboration with Discovered.


One of the more familiar brands of Tokyo native labels involved with Labrat is Porter. Now, everyone should know this maker of well crafted and elegantly designed accessories so I will fast forward on the introductions. Here, the minds of Labrat and Porter combine to create MA1 jackets, matching shorts and laceup backpacks...



The varied fruits of the collaboration with Porter

Blackmeans is a local leather specialist that started out in 2005 as a leather goods manufacturer but soon evolved and began producing their own lines of leather motorcycle jackets, belts and accessories. Here, they continue their successful partnership with Labrat to create a number of jackets and a leather skirt...



The Lightning Leather Jacket with fringe detail beautifully modelled by a member of the Labrat team.


Having first produced brothel creepers in the 50s and winkle pickers in the 60s, George Cox gained notoriety in the 70s when these looks were resurrected by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren to become the uniform of a generation of punks. Now, one hundred and five years old, the company still continues to grow and develop thanks to their archive of lasts and hunger for product development. Here, the collaboration with Labrat produces the Cross Boot...


The Cross Boots in collaboration with George Cox

Despite my enthused murmurings above, Labrat constitute more than just a number of successful collaborations. In addition to working with some of the finest names in Tokyo, the label have created a number of covetable pieces on their own. Highlights include double cloth basics, kilting and even a Chester coat...







Labrat's own mix of underground classics.


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