Refueled Issue 12
Community. Heritage. Discovery. Autumn 2013
You have a history degree, which focused on World War II. What from that period interested and inspired you? Both of my grandfathers were in WWII and my dad was in the Army during Vietnam. My interest in military history definitely stems from this family connection and wanting to learn more about what my relatives experienced. I also had a grandmother-esque figure in my life starting from very early on who was German and came to the US after the war, so that connection to Germany also influenced my interest in learning more about that time period. Where did you grow up? What were you like as a child? I grew up in a relatively rural area of New Hampshire and spent every moment I could outside exploring the forest surrounding our house. If I wasn't running through the woods you could find me catching frogs bare handed in the pond on our property. My typical look as a kid was denim overalls, dirty knees, and pockets stuffed with salamanders. You personal style is very vintage inspired, very woodsy and outdoorsy. Are you a tomboy at heart? Most definitely a tomboy at heart. Menswear has always been more interesting and intriguing to me, especially when it comes to vintage clothing. I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with beat up old cotton tshirts (the kind that are so thin they're seethrough when held up to the light) and old brown leather boots. Though I also really love to pair feminine pieces like vintage cotton dresses with more masculine items like old barn coats.. when I was a kid I would refuse to wear anything girly, but these days I enjoy combining the two. Oh and I also drive a 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser, the best truck out there. When did your love for flea markets begin? Which are your favorites? My fascination with flea markets began at a pretty early age thanks to an older neighbor of mine who would frequent one close to our houses every week. I started going with her early in my teens and it's definitely what had the most influence on my personal aesthetic. Her house was filled with beautiful old quilts, woven baskets, traditional New England furniture pieces.. and I just couldn't get enough of the finds she would bring home. I also really loved interacting with the people selling old treasures and hearing their stories, that's always been a huge part of flea markets for me. My favorite will forever be the Davisville flea market in Davisville, NH because that's the one I grew up going to â€Ś but I also love the flea market that I frequent most now, Todd Farm in Rowley, MA. You have a great fondest for vintage army materials, grain and seed sacks and old Boy Scout backpacks. What draws you to those items? I have been drawn to military items for many years .. I used army backpacks that I'd find at the flea market starting around middle school and had a few great old army jackets around that time too (that were covered with punk patches of course). At first it was the aesthetics that drew me in, I think. I've always been one for simple, classic, practical items in neutral colors.. which describes most vintage outdoor and military apparel. I love the old logos that a lot of vintage grain sacks and feed bags have on them. The type and imagery used by the companies during the 1900's-1950's is unlike anything we have these days. My favorite thing about these materials though is the personal touches that have been put on them at some point in history. I can't get enough of hand painted military duffel bags and old Boyscout backpacks with a kid's name and drawing incorporated into the tag. These small details are what gives the materials a real history to me. You can see that this piece of canvas was important to someone 70 years ago and that they took the time to carefully paint their name, serial number, and a portrait of a pin up lady. I love being able to take those little snapshots of history and incorporate them into my bags so we can see them in our current day to day lives and remember something that might otherwise be forgotten. What other materials do you dig and feel translate well into your work? Who inspires you? Other than canvas, my #1 love, leather is also a big favorite for me. There is nothing better than a simple, worn-in vintage leather bag. I've long been inspired by the way leather has been used in bags and apparel throughout the centuries.. both on its own and paired with canvas. Also linen has long been a favorite as well. There's just something about the way that linen feels and smells that evokes feelings of old New England. I am so inspired by my friend Maura and her company, Folk Fibers. She is one of the sweetest, most genuine people that I've come across and you can tell that immediately through her work. When you encounter a kindred spirit you just know immediately, and that's how I felt with Maura. The same goes for Amy Merrick who does the most incredible work with flowers. I am also very much inspired by Ryan Rhodes / Caleb Owen Everitt and the work they do with LAND. These days when so much branding and typography has a similar design aesthetic their work really sticks out. And there are a few other bag makers out there who I think do incredible work, like Chris Grodzki of Stanley and Sons. Describe the first bag that you made. I have a very vivid memory of the first time I realized I could rework old military canvas into a new bag. I was at one of the flea markets I used to frequent in the winter of 2007 (it was in Lancaster, MA .. but no longer exists) and came across a WWII duffel bag. I had been seeing and buying these duffels for many years, but on this day I just saw the material in a totally new light. I realized that if I cut it open it would be enough raw material for me to rework into something new and unique. I went home that day with so many thoughts buzzing through my brain.. and that duffel bag turned into a shoulder bag, which sold immediately online (I had recently opened an Etsy shop a few weeks prior selling jewelry and small prints) .. and in that moment I realized I had found something which had the potential to be a real business. I love your small collection of vintage knifes you use. Can you describe them? I've always been fascinated by knives and had a drawer full of small Swiss Army knives when I was growing up. I spent so much time outside and did a lot of traveling to far away places when I was a teenager so having a knife around was always a necessity. I have a tendency to collect the old things that I'm fascinated by, and since knives are something real practical I was able to justify purchasing the ones I would find and fall in love with at the flea markets. I also started collecting more knives as I started getting to know some of the flea markets vendors better. One vendor in particular became a buddy of mine and he taught me a bit about military knives and would put aside the ones he thought I would be interested in, so I couldn't say no. What keeps you inspired and moving forward? Since the heart of Forestbound is the old fabric that the bags are made from, constantly discovering new materials to work with keeps me going. Just when I think I've found the most beautiful hand painted WWII duffel bag I come across something like an old, hand patched denim work apron in a barn that totally blows my mind and I realize that there's just so much out there to uncover. The best part of what I do is coming across all this material that people have just been storing in their barns, garages, basements etc. and giving it a new life. I love being able to share a little piece of history with my customers through the fabric that I use, and knowing that I have the ability to keep on doing that just as long as I keep seeking out the fabric is so motivating for me. What would your ultimate cabin in the woods look like and where would it be located? I daydream of an old New England one room schoolhouse that has large windows, french doors, and a big cozy fireplace. A porch big enough for a few rocking chairs, sprawling herb and vegetables gardens, and a swimming hole nearby are necessities too. My brother and a few friends have a piece of land in a beautiful part of central VT, so I'd like to build something close by. I've been looking at land in Vermont on and off for the last few years, but haven't found 'the one' yet. But my dog and I are most definitely ready for a quieter, country life. You all jumped into this company with different, but not entirely dissimilar backgrounds. Describe the roles you all play in Knickerbocker. AJ: I'm the first contact with clients and I deal with the brand and fabric sourcing. I work on the graphic design for the company as well, with help from designer Sonya Kazlova. She's amazing. Kyle Mosholder: Dan and I deal with production end of things. Daniel McRorie: I manage orders, our employees, stock components that we carry. I'm also working on the leather goods that we produce. AJ: Dan loves doing all of our monotonous stuff. He loves doing visors. He'll sit there doing visors all day, and will just have the biggest damn grin on his face. Daniel McRorie: Haha, yea, if I've got a minute I'll just jump right in there and sit down, stitch some visors. AJ: Both Kyle and Dan do so many components of the hats. They really understand the machines, the fabrics, and they know right away if something will work or not. What has it been like going from small, independent companies to production manufacturing? McRorie: To me, its really fascinating to approach something with the point of view of a manufacturer. Before, I made everything one piece at a time. Its a slow process, and its very expensive to work that way. You have to charge a lot for that type of work. And then to come here, and see how we can make a really nice product, as quickly and efficiently as possible without losing any of that quality. Its a whole different way of looking at it, and I'm loving it. Mosholder: It's been a new learning experience for me, because with a bag, it doesn't necessarily have to fit your body, it just has to fit your lifestyle or your aesthetic. So that's been interesting, to go through all the old patterns, see how to work on the fit, the silhouette. McRorie: I've worked at factories before sewing. With shoes and other certain things, you're making a 3-D product from a flat material, so whether its a shoe or a hat, its kind of the same thing. So its been really fun to switch over to hats and apply all that past experience. What sort of clients have you worked with so far? AJ: Mostly East Coast clients; smaller independent brands, boutiques, and a few larger brands as well. People have a concept, they want to just try something out, and they can with us. This one guy did this military cap, it was really funky, and he got to test that product out here; no where else would've been able to do that for him. Some caps we've made have been more like art than a product. Already, we've had the opportunity to work with some really cool people, some really awesome projects. McRorie: Our minimums are low - just 25 hats. So, it allows people to do multiple styles, where as before there were higher minimums and maybe they wouldn't even have been able to do it at all. Mosholder: From my past experience in having caps made for d'emploi, it was really hard to be a small company and have things produced in a reasonable time frame. That is integral to our plan for Knickerbocker, keeping low minimums and quick turnarounds. AJ: People will ask "Can we do this....?" and we'll answer "Yea! Of course we can do that." People aren't used to be able to have options. Things were so closed off in manufacturing before, and its becoming so much more open now. I think the key to success in our business is accessibility, and allowing people choice. Mosholder: It's a way to open up the possibilities for people. If they don't know whats possible, you show them. Or, if they do, its about revealing something else to push the work, raise the bar. All this new equipment has opened up so many options for us, and then in turn for other people. AJ: We're new. We're still discovering possibilities too. Its like, everyday, theres a light bulb - BING! McRorie: All the time! So youâ€™re not only manufacturing for other labels, but you have your own label as well. Tell me about this. McRorie: We're creating small capsule collections that are theme based with limited numbers. These little collections are really cool, because they aren't season based, so we can really have fun and experiment. The next collection will be a completely different idea, a different concept. What is the collection coming out this November? AJ: It's a 13 piece work-wear inspired collection, called the Born to Dig Capsule Collection. We've been working with heavy canvases, woolens, fine cottons. We're doing a hats, a tool roll, some roll-top bags with d'emploi and some nice chore coats, button downs. We're trying to take traditional work-wear styles and make them current - really functional in the fabrics and styles, but with better insulation, different details. It's a good platform for all of us to showcase the type of work we can do. It really works out perfectly, everyones individual focus comes together, we all have a hand in all the design. We're all from such different places (California, Pennsylvania, Canada), so naturally, our backgrounds give us really different inspirations. Its so fun to bounce ideas off of each other. Mosholder: And with these capsule collections, we're not locked into doing a version of last seasons thing this season, it doesn't have to be anything in particular. Its a great platform, because whenever someone throws out an idea, and it resonates, we have the freedom to just run with it. What are some other projects that youâ€™re excited about? AJ: We're doing a series of short films highlighting other makers, independent artists, called The Artisan Series. I'm working with filmmaker Jason Filmore to put those together. We want to showcase these people and bring our network to theirs, their network to ours. Its good to grow this, bring the making community together. Everyone loves seeing someone really passionate about what they do. Its rare. McRorie: We're also starting a weekly project called One-Off Wednesdays. As we were working, we were finding these amazing materials, but only enough to produce one or two hats. But, because the resources are right here, we just starting making them. It gives us a chance to try a new clasp or a new fabric. So, we Instagram the finished hat, and the first one to reach out to us, snags it. AJ: The last one sold in 40 minutes! Where do you see Knickerbocker down the road? Mosholder: There are a lot of other quality brands that we are already working with. So we hope that as they grow, we grow. Ideally we'll be a symbol of quality. When people see a product thats come out of this space, they can trust that we've put a lot of time and intention into all of that. McRorie: Right now, we're all doing almost everything here. I'm excited for the future, when we can bring in people to help us with certain things. We want the line to grow without suffering on the manufacturing end. If instead of cleaning the toilet, or running to the post office, we can spend more time designing, running the ship, I'd be happy. AJ: I'd love to continue to branch out, have a store front, keep pushing our own boundaries. To design, create, and to make a living off of it - now thats the dream! I noticed you all hugged on the way into the factory this morning. Is this the norm? All: Yea! We hug on the way in, the way out. Hell yea, hugs all around. We love hugs. It was clear upon meeting it's founder (Dare Jennings) and it's creative DNA (Carby Tuckwell) the immediate kinship would result in more than the usual high-fives of passing fellowship. It's hard to articulate that kind of connection…I almost feel like if you can, there's no real magic, so I'll just leave it at that. Deus isn't only about 'things'. Actually, it's more about what you do with said things. The things themselves are not bad - it's the excessive desire or obsession for them that screws other companies up. Chasing every trend and fashion moment steers us in the wrong direction. A brand culture strengthens us more than an arsenal of clothing, accessories, *insert your trapping here*. For me, Deus' core message represents "not a race for what is next, rather, an appreciation for what has come before and how it's applicable today - in this moment". That and a healthy dose of faith, humility, integrity, love for others and moderation in all things could be the recipe for a happy life. The Deus disciples' life is not primarily about the acquisition of fine material things that define them, rather, defining themselves by the life they live and the passion to experience it. It's an uphill battle with lots of backsliding along the way - but it's that knowledge and understanding that's "the juice", ultimately. Dare, what’s in your pockets right now? Not much, as I'm wearing overly tight jeans. Looking forward to when the fashion swings back to more generous proportions. What modern day (or not) invention do you like most? Mobile telephony would have to be in the blessing and curse category. Last book you’ve read? I have just reread James Elroy's American Tabloid. It blew me away, just as much as it did 12 years ago Seems like you’re almost always in a different time zone, when traveling. What single item is ever-present? Sadly, my old person's medication bag. What was your first motorcycle? When I was 18, I bought a clapped out WLA Harley from a local hoodlum. It was most educational. Last time you wore a tie? To a wedding of someone I didn't like very much. What word(s) would your children use to describe you? Overweight, balding and old. Having been raised in rural outback, fondest memory growing up on a fram? Loading up the family car for a trip to as far away from the farm as possible. Preferably the coast. Being a music lover & former independent record label owner, what song do you wish you had written? There are so many, but let's go with the Triffids' Wide Open Road. In the time I've known you, you're keen bullshit radar is amongst the most highly-attuned i've witnessed. in the myriad of business dealings what of the 7 deadly sins do you find the most offensive? I email therefor I am. I have an MBA, therefor I, by definition, must know more than you. I take notes, therefor I'm working. Look, I have just talked non stop for 10 minutes without pausing. I have never had an idea in my life, but that will not stop me from poking your idea with a stick. I have noticed that in a business setting, the dead giveaway for hierarchy is the amount of "stuff" an individual shows up with. this almost always reveals pecking order as the most powerful man in the room is often the one that shows up with only a pen. I've been to several with you and you're always empty handed altogether...how do you keep everything straight? photographic memory, perhaps? Who needs a pen. That would imply you were going to take notes. I usually intend to, but never do. Some genetic aberration I guess. Most of it is not that hard that you would need to write it down anyway. Last 3 google searches? Australian Visa applications for Brazil. Neil Davis documentary One Crowded Hour. Venereal disease symptoms. What single routine/ritual has to happen on any given day, if any at all, at the start or by the days end? Without my morning dip [summer and winter] at Bronte Beach, I can't get moving. Name a place you've yet to travel to that remains in your wishlist? Brazil. I should be there as I'm writing this, but my Visa application keeps getting rejected. Apparently the Brazilian and Australian immigration departments are trying to outdo each other bureaucratically. I'm not sure whose winning, but the Brazilians would be hard to beat. Who is you're favorite Filipino? AH-WEEEE-TAHN! Why the name Shinola? How do you feel it represents the new brand? The business had been incubating for a long time and was trying to find a name, we had even engaged someone to help us and still nothing. So finally one day we were sitting in a room and someone said "you don’t know shit from shinola"… and there you have it. The name represents the brand in that we don't take ourselves too seriously. High-end watches, luxury bicycles and fine leather goods - a slightly strange combo to some. Connect the dots for us. It was as simple as knowing some of the world's talented craftsmen and design experts in each of these categories. We knew we could make quality watches, bikes, and fine leather goods using resources that were predominantly from the US. We plan to grow into new product lines the moment we're know we can develop the highest standard quality of that product using a majority of US based experts and materials. Tal k a b i t abo ut t h e wa t c h e s t h at ar e be i n g produced/assembled in the factory and the folks who are making them. With Ronda, a world renown institution of experts producing Swiss Quartz movements, we're training our factory workers inhouse. We've taught them how to assemble Shinola's Argonite quartz movements (named after the historic Argonaut building that originally housed General Motors design center. It's now known at CCS, College of Creative Studies, and houses our watch manufacture on the 5th floor). Our factory workers have gained the handskills and knowledge to assemble Quartz movements in Detroit using Swiss made parts. Unlike your typical European watch manufacture that is quiet and still, ours remains very American – top 40 hits play in the background, and there is great enthusiasm the moment line leaders finish their latest batch of movements. It's very dynamic. Everyone there has an energy about their work, and seems to feel very proud of the work being accomplished. Shinola bikes, the Runwell and the Bixby, are built one at a time, by hand, with amazing attention to detail. Can you tell us about the folks involved in the design and production? Shinola bikes are produced with the industry's most respected names. Sky Yaeger, head of Shinola's bike production, is a legend (VP of product development at Bianchi for 20 years). She understands design and craftsmanship like nobody else. The frames are produced in Waterford, Wisconsin by a 4th generation Schwinn brother, Richard Schwinn. Assembly of the bikes takes place in Detroit at the Shinola factory housed on the 5th floor of the city's College of Creative Studies. The Bixby bikes, 3 speed models with Shimano mechanical disc brakes start at $1950. The Runwell 11 speed starts at $2950. There are a lot of talented people involved in producing Shinols's leather goods and journals. Why Horween Leather Company and Edwards Brothers Malloy? Horween has been the top of the top in producing fine American leathers since 1905. They're based in Chicago an still use handbased techniques in its method that requires highly skilled craftspeople in every step of the process. Edwards Brother Malloy on the other hand is family owned, and known for achieving such high quality materials using domestic, sustainably-cultivated paper sources. This was especially important to us. I'm really impressed with the design and colorway of the products, especially the bikes and watches. Talk about that process. Tying together three typically unrelated product lines presented us with the ultimate challenge in merchandising – we had to achieve a certain continuity, harmony, and sense of balance. We culled references from Donald Judd's flawless 90 degree angles – a form that would ultimately inspire the retail vitrines and furniture which housed all of the product in the cleanest way possible. It allowed us to showcase sophisticated color ways running through all of the product lines. Our "orchid" pink color was dyed so many times to get it right, that by the time we landed on the right hue, our dye people forgot how they got to it! Shinola stores are popping up around the country. What kind of shopping experience can a customer expect to encounter when they walk in? Customers can expect to walk in to a highly trained staff, in a warm, welcoming, and informative environment. Our product is displayed openly so customers can interact with it directly. We spent countless hours educating our retail associates about the product - why it looks, feels, and works like it does. They know our story well so they can communicate it authentically to anyone that walks in. We have partnered with Drought a local cold press juice company in our Detroit store and in we have a Smile Newsstand in our NYC Flagship – so the environment invites people to spend time with us and enjoy the brand. How large a part does Shinola feel they are playing in "Made in America"? For every product we make, we aspire to create it 100% in the US. While there are still some parts coming from outside the US, our goal is to be transparent about this and let our customer know that we are working on a parallel development for that piece/screw/tool/etc here in the same moment. If we can produce the majority of a product here in the US – AT SCALE (key word here), then we feel we're playing a huge role in "Made in America." J o r d a n a n d Yu i , t wo d e s i g n i n t e r n s f r o m Po r t l a n d S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y, w e r e c r e a t i n g a n e w b a t c h o f B o r o s c a r v e s . O n t h e t a b l e t h ey l a i d a l o n g wo o d e n m e a s u r i n g s t i c k t o d i c t a t e l e n g t h a n d began searc hing through bins for a base fabric. T h ey f o u n d a d a r k , s o l i d b l u e - g r e e n f a b r i c a n d , c u t t i n g i t u p i n t o l a rg e p i e c e s a n d p l a c i n g t h e m o n the table along the measuring stick , created a f o u n d a t i o n f o r t h e s c a r f . S m a l l e m p t y s p a c e s we re lef t in be tween t he larg e pieces of solid f abr ic, and t o f i l l t h o s e g a p s J o r d a n f o u n d s ev e r a l k a s u r i — f a b r i c s wov e n f r o m d y e d t h r e a d s t h a t m a k e a p a t t e r n , s i m i l a r t o i ka t — a n d Yu i p r o d u c e d s eve r a l s c ra p s i n s h a d e s o f l i g h t e r b l u e . T h ey c u t a n d t o re these filler fabrics, all of which began as one or t wo f o o t - w i d e s q u a r e s , i n t o ev e n s m a l l e r p a t c h e s a n d f i l l e d i n t h e e m p t y s p a c e . B y t h e t i m e s eve ra l i d e n t i c a l s c a r v e s w e r e l a i d o u t , t h ey h a d u s e d the last of one of the filler fabrics and so that par ticular design’s run was limited, as most of K i r i ko M a d e ’ s b o r o s c a r v e s a r e , t o l e s s t h a n f i ve s c a r ve s . During the process Dawn Yanagihara edited their choices. At one point, she placed her hand on a couple of striped fabrics and rotated them, changing the visual flow of the scarf, but then she pointed to the base fabric and vetoed it completely, saying “that fabric is too green! It’s almost aqua and it doesn’t look right next to the others”, and the three of them dismantled the design and began searching again, this time for a blue fabric that might work. Dawn, who wore an ocean blue shirt tucked into white slacks and brown oxfords. She was raised in Hawaii until moving to Los Angeles to work in advertising until 2012 when, after attending Portland State University and receiving a degree in design, she met Katsu Tanaka who was seeking a partner for a new accessory brand. After 10 minutes of meeting they realized a shared affinity for a similar aesthetic and style, and Kiriko Made was born. Boro is a term originating in rural Japan and refers to scraps of fabric, rags, or patches that are too good to waste. Boro textiles are commonly blankets or garments made from or incorporating the saved scraps. Farm workers in the late 19th and early 20th century, facing harsh outdoor working conditions, used Boro scraps to patch holes in the knees of their pants or thicken their coats for approaching winter months. Not having access to large amounts of cotton fabric (hemp fabric was more common but not as durable or warm), most repairs were made using scraps from local cotton mills or discarded rags from wealthier neighbors, resulting in an organic progression of design: kasuri, indigo stripes, tattered rags, and different shades of blue were sewn together side-by-side. Today, Noragi—these farm coats, vests, aprons and pants—are prized by collectors for their spontaneous collage of fabrics. The romantic images of Edo Period Japan invoked is also striking: of a farmer’s wife repairing by moonlight a coat passed down from one generation to the next, accumulating a hundred years of patches into a sort of family timeline. "Part of the beauty of Boro lies in the fact that it stems from resourcefulness, that it's a utilitarian fabric and it fulfills basic needs", Dawn said, removing from the wall a tattered, century-old boro blanket, "but it was still designed by someone and the placement of fabric was still deliberate and purposeful. That combination of meaningful design and necessity evokes a sense of awe, and that’s what we strive for when we design our contemporary Boro scarves.” She unfolded the blanket and my eyes followed a wide area of faded gray kasuri until coming upon a light blue striped fabric where a rich, deep blue indigo patch interjected. Whitethreaded sashiko—a running stitch commonly used to combine layers in order to repair or reinforce a garment— circulated in curves and straightaways like lines separating lanes on a road. The blanket’s texture was rough, created by tattered fabric sewn on top of tattered fabric. Through a hole in one layer I saw another pattern showing through: a beige with red and blue stripes running perpendicular to the stripes of the fabric above. And finally that big indigo patch, its perimeter was dark in color but its core was lightly faded. Blue cotton is one of the most signature characteristics of boro garments. Cotton fibers were notoriously difficult to dye except with the use of indigo—a crystalline compound today made synthetically, but once derived organically from the indigo plant. Before the 20th century, Japan had as much as 40,000 acres of indigo under cultivation. After the plants were harvested in late summer, the green indigo leaves were dried (at which point they turned blue) and fermented or composted, making their blue pigment water soluble. Dyers dipped cotton yarn in vats of indigo many times a day for many weeks until the dye adhered to the cotton fibers. The laborious process of an indigo fabric made it a luxury: dark blue cotton fabrics with almostblack stitching was more opulent than lighter fabrics and white threads. A wrist watch band of bourbon brown leather, fabric bracelets in red, yellow, and blue, and a silver phoenix ring with a heart of turquoise, Katsu’s style protracts all the way to his fingertips. His Hawaiian shirt with wooden buttons and exploding red and purple flowers reveals his style as laissez-faire in temperament while still wrought with gentlemanlike details, which suit him well as the retail shop he’s owned in Old Town for the last few years has made him a neighborhood notable: we didn’t walk one block from the studio when a group of stylish 21-year-olds outside one of Portland’s bar arcades waved with familiarity, “Hey Katsu!”. During Kiriko Made’s genesis phase, he and Dawn sifted through vintage Japanese advertisements, photographs, and magazines to develop their aesthetic. “We spent a lot of time thinking about what gives those old things their sense of timelessness, and then we tried to imbue that into the Kiriko Made brand,” Dawn told me as we ventured down the block in search for dinner, returning to the studio with pizza and PBRs, and while we ate I flipped through a stack of Free & Easy and Monocle magazines. “We also read a lot of those style publications,” Dawn continued, “but trends have a way of homogenizing and becoming similar, so more often than not those publications just help us to see what’s out there so we can do something different, or we riff on those styles and make our own reinterpretation of it, ending up with design details in a similar vein to what’s popular but something that’s truer to our brand, and more current and fresh.” Saying goodbye to the Kiriko Made crew, I passed a stock room full of product. A shelf of metal bins was full of scarves and fabrics, but I also saw bow ties, Boro straight ties, and indigo cotton backpacks with contrasting white stitching. “We’re growing our product line,” said Dawn as we ascended the stairs to the exit, “Boro wasn’t always a luxurious, fancy fabric like it is now, it was once the fabric of the average person, and so we’re producing accessories and garments that people actually need and can use on a daily basis. We’ll still use antique Japanese, vintage Kimono, and kasuri fabrics, but we’re creating line of apparel goods that will include more essentials like button up shirts and, well, more products that you’ll see soon enough.” While we were out in Portland having this existential reawakening Nick Brayton and Josh Rich were doing some pot stirring of their own on the other side of the country. In march of 2012 they became the leaders of Woolrich, their family business, and were setting out to redirect a very large ship towards some lofty goals. Ones that included a commitment to manufacturing and sourcing in the USA, as well as making this heritage brand relevant to a younger audience. Nick, the president of Woolrich, and Josh the V.P. are 7th and 8th generation Woolrich blood, and know a thing or two about this historic company's legacy. They are extremely motivated to continue in a way that would do it proud. The Woolrich they took over was one that still owned and operated the countries oldest continually running woolen mill and and still produced amazing woolen fabric day in, day out. However, like the majority of the garment industry, Woolrich had out sourced most of it's garment production to Asia, while also suffering from a disconnect with the younger audience. Nick and Josh had a vision for Woolrich that would require some big moves, moves that are well outside of the comfort zone of the garment manufacturing industry now a days. A vision we were about to become much more acquainted withâ€Ś This past January, Gehron Burkholder who is Woolrich's west coast marketing representative and a key person in this reinvigorated Woolrich, reached out to us. He was stoked on what we were doing and wanted to meet up and tell us a little about what was going on with them. We hit it off right away, and it was obvious that this was a good dude. While we were getting acquainted, Gehron was telling us about all the changes and motivations going on over at Woolrich and we were telling Gehron about our up coming trip to South America. There was a growing mutual stoke happening and we felt like something rad could happen here. Then right at the same time, Nick Brayton dropped an open letter out into the world from Woolrich outlining the direction they were taking and their commitment to American manufacturing. Once we read that letter we were fully hooked. It was really exciting to be hearing all this from a company the size of Woolrich. These folks were shaking it up! Soon after, we began talking about really trying to do something together. It made so much sense. One of our biggest passions that we constantly advocate for is american manufacturing, and here is a company with the motivation and the resources to really make a difference there and create jobs. We thought it would be really cool to start out with something simple and direct, and began talking about doing a Woolrich/West America Camp Blanket. We wanted to put something out sooner than later and it seemed like a blanket was the obvious course with a hope of doing some actual garments in the future. It was awesome how the excitement radiated through everyone involved and the ideas around the project were snowballing quickly. It was obvious that the new heads at Woolrich had big plans and where willing to invest the time and finances to create something relevant and special. Before we knew it, we were all talking very seriously about producing a cobranded capsule line of American made goods inspired by our trip to Patagonia. So rad and exciting! As the talks and excitement built, we all felt that it was time for us to have a visit to Woolrich. In March, we boarded a plane and set off for New York City, the new home of Woolrich's design offices. Upon arrival we were greated by Karuna Scheinfeld, Woolrich's V.P. of design and Donna Fitch, Woolrich's merchandiser and the four of us immediately jumped in a car and drove out to Woolrich Pennsylvania three and a half hours away. The drive through the rural Pennsylvania farm land allowed us to get to know each other and talk about our ideas in person. Right from the beginning there was an instant bond with Karuna and you could tell she understood us and what we were thinking with the collection. She created a comfort that would define the collaboration from that point on. We pulled into Woolrich late in the night and met up with Gehron at the Woolrich lodge. He had come out for our visit also, and we all had a nice little catch up before crashing out. The next day was amazing. We met all the awesome people that we had been talking to over emails and phone calls, and got to put faces to all of the excitement. It was an incredibly reassuring experience. The same good vibes and enthusiasm that we found with Gehron seemed to carry through everyone at Woolrich. Then we got to take a tour of the mill. Walking through the mill is an incomparable experience, the place is surreal and massive. Watching the wool start at one end of the plant and slowly makes its way into a finished product on the other end is fascinating. Each step involves skilled hands able to adjust and modify the process as they go, to read the wool and make the necessary changes. There are no computers replacing the human mind. Oil cans are next to each machine and you can feel the sense of pride the people working here have in knowing their machine in and out. In the center of the mill there is a fully equipped machine shop with shelves of gears and bushings waiting to replace worn components. It takes a skilled team to keep everything running smooth, and many of the individuals working in the mill are second and third generation Woolrich employees. Our tour ended in the archives where we found rolls upon rolls of deadstock wool that we got to sort through and select from for our collection. A pretty incredible sight. We dug through the rolls with Karuna and Gehron, looking for the right weights, and weaves. There were so many incredible fabrics sitting up there but the find of the day was definitely the 18 yards of Woolcam that Woolrich last produced in 1991. We had exchanged many emails with Gehron about how rad the printed wool camo that they used to do was and we were all really hoping to find some there. It was sitting far back in a corner, and had us hollering with excitement upon it's discovery. Not enough to produce any runs of garments we ended up making 122 hats out of it, and they are awesome! Over the next couple days in Woolrich we toured the beautiful country side and gave Karuna all our ideas about the pieces. In stride, she gave her years of expertise and some redirection. We all understood that we wanted to make pieces that functioned on the bikes and looked great off the bikes. Simple and robust clothing for everyday use. We don't have much cargo space on the bikes so it all needed to be multi functional and work together. Plus, we really want to avoid looking like storm troopers when we roll into a new town! It was awesome how she could take these ideas from a couple guys who have no real clue about clothing design and turn them into well thought out garments. A couple months after our visit out to Woolrich we met up with Karuna in Portland Oregon for what we thought would be the first in a series of fittings and adjustments. What we ended up trying on was perfect! A testament to the skills of Karuna and her team, the prototypes needed nothing changed other than superficial details. It was amazing, we went from an idea to spot on samples in two months and now shipping the actual production at the beginning of December this year. That process normally takes a good 18 months and because of the motivation and talent at Woolrich it happened in 9 months. Pretty amazing and a constant honor to work with them. Over the next year we are going to put this line through the grinder as we live off our motorcycles and in our tents traveling to Patagonia and back. Designed to take that serious beating and be life long possessions, I can't wait to look at it once all that life has happened in it.