Voyej Chahin I belt

It’s Spring cleaning time for my leathers, I find myself working on my Chahin belt from Voyej.

I’ve had this Chahin belt for a few years now, since 2011 in fact, and it’s the second belt in my collection made from Chahin skirting leather.

Again, the cleaning & care methods used are outline here, including the detergent clean and light wax finish that I have applied to this belt.

Compare this with how the leather started. when I first received the belt from Lucas in 2011:

I found that many skirting and saddle leathers from the Americas (this includes Mexico, where Chahin is located) tend to age towards a peach/orange colour, which is very pleasing and beginner friendly. Contrast this with English bark-tan leathers which usually are more yellow in tone (trickier to age well), or the natural leathers from Italy & Japan which tend to be paler in comparison (easy to darken too much).

Lower quality natural leathers have a tendency to age quickly towards dark brown, which I do not like at all. This is not a problem on the Chahin belt.

The leather also cleans up nicely – most staining and grime I was able to remove.

You can see that, as opposed to the smooth surface on new Chahin belts, the leather grain is now quite pronounced. The natural characteristics of the hide is now on display.

Also, the stitching and the burnishing have held up well.

The few dents and scratches were easily recovered with some feeding and waxing – such are the delights of vegetable tanned leathers.

Personally, I think aging natural leathers is perhaps more complicated and delicate than what many people think. One aspect I’d like to point out is that the “popping” or surfacing of the grain character should occur before the leather darkens too much…natural leathers will darken easily if mistreated or is left unconditioned for long periods. Too often you’ll see people with very brown leathers that have minimal grain evolution, which – in my opinion – is something to be avoided.

With the leather on this Chahin belt, achieving good results in terms of balancing the changes in grain & colour is quite easy. I would say this is a pleasing and beginner friendly leather.

I’m very glad to see Voyej’s newer Chahin II & III versions of the belt have taken the suggestions I made a few years ago regarding the buckle and the stitching. Also pleasantly surprised that their pricing remains pretty much the same as it did back in 2011, making it one of the better value skirting belts out there that doesn’t skimp on details.

Definitely check them out at Voyej.

Voyej Chahin I belt

Boot nailing~

Some time ago two pairs of my White’s boots started having some issues with the sole unit.

These were custom makes with double leather mid-soles and a chunky Vibram outsole, but the stitching stopped well short of the mid-foot arch (this arch is quite prominent on White’s boots), and over time – in the area that the stitching did not reach – the plastic outsole came apart from the leather midsoles.

I asked around and apparently no one would do shoe nailing with pure brass nails, so I did it myself!

These are marine-use nails made of solid brass, with small heads.

The hammer is very small – it’s the one I use to flatten the rivets on my jeans.

Hey hey! The alignment is not perfect, but I’m not a robot.

Problem fixed, but now I have to figure out what to do with the remaining 150 nails…

Boot nailing~

Restoring a very old belt…

Following the steps provided in the leather care post, I began restoring this old belt from WWII.

The belt was unused, due to the strap being just too wide for the buckle – it’s now trimmed down – but being 70 years old there’s some damage just from storage & drying out.

The brass buckle and keeper I had previously cleaned, but looking a bit dull.

The hand-stitching wasn’t particularly well done – a bit wonky, as you can see.

But that’s not really the point here, I suppose.

A little bit of dye was used, but the most important aspects were the feeding and waxing. A light wax polish for the buckle also.

With the waxing, I’d recommend a very light coat.

Pain in the butt to clean up and polish smoothly if you use too much.

It turned out pretty alright🙂

The belt is a little too wide for my jeans, but it was an interesting exercise!

Back in the closet it goes, but hopefully with this restoration the belt will last another 70 years.

Restoring a very old belt…

Warehouse 800 review by beautiful_FrEaK

Indigoshrimp is proud to feature another review by reproduction enthusiast beautiful_FrEaK.

This time he examines the Warehouse 800!

Words & photos by beautiful_FrEaK. Editing & formatting by indigoshrimp.

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The Warehouse 800 jean is a standard model in the denim line-up of the Osaka5-member Warehouse. Warehouse was founded in 1995 by the Shiotani twins who had previously worked with Yamane from Evis(u). Warehouse has a strong focus on reproduction blue jeans, pursuing the replication of the fit, the denim and the feeling/soul of vintage jeans. The Warehouse 800 is not an exact reproduction of a specific year like most repro jeans from other brands (e.g. Sugar Cane 1947 or 1966, Denime 66 or Warehouse’s own 1003 as a WWII model), but due to the cut and the details it could be counted as a Levi’s ’47 repro.

The fit: The WH 800 has a slimmish cut with a decent taper and a mid to high rise. The fit is certainly not slim by today’s standards. The higher rise might be something you have to get used to, but it’s actually nice to have some room up top. The thighs are slim without being hugging and the light taper gives a nice silhouette below the knee.

The denim: The 800 model uses Warehouse’s 1000XX denim , which is a 14oz 6×6 denim made of 100% Memphis cotton, warp dyed with pure indigo. This denim was also used in the Warehouse 660 Contest that was held by Blue in Green many years ago. It isn’t overly engineered like Oni, Samurai or PBJ denim but has a decent amount of hairiness, neps, slubs and irregularities without losing the vintage-vibe of the denim. Fading examples can be found on Warehouse’s own homepage or by simply searching for Warehouse 660, 700 or 800.

The details: There are many little nice details on this pair like hidden rivets, hidden coin pocket selvedge, deer skin patch, raised belt loops, steel rivets, 100% cotton threads, sturdy pocket bags and the classic V-stitch at the top button . For me, the nicest detail is the raised hem at the top of the back pockets, protecting the threads from excessive abrasion. This is a considered detail not too many brands feature.

Summary: The Warehouse 800 is not an “in-your-face” pair of jeans like some Samurai or Strike Gold jeans. It’s a very subtle but solid pair of blue jeans. A pair of no-frills blue jeans whose beauty lies in the fabric and the little details. Truly a pair that gets better with age and wear.

Warehouse 800 review by beautiful_FrEaK

Archimede DeckWatch

Here’s a recent addition, all the way from Germany – the Archimede DeckWatch.

Ickler, the company behind the Archimede brand, is one of my favourites because of it’s top-down manufacturing – from heat bluing the hands to manufacturing the case – everything is done in-house.

The Archimede Deckwatch is a modern day reproduction of old Marine watches from the 1910s onwards. I may have mentioned before my preference for mechanical wrist watches with simple dials and old-school detailing:

It’s kinda like buying jeans from Momotaro. From components to assembly, all taken care of…and you can buy direct too.

Great value for money, comparatively speaking of course, and quality all round.

The question is – what type of strap should I install on this one?

Archimede DeckWatch

Kawatako “Blade” belt

This particular review is perhaps a few years late to this blog. As you know, I have reviewed many belts from many makers over the years, but the big Japanese brands have always been missing…partly because I wanted to feature small workshop craftsman (and language barriers meant I could only do so with Mandarin and English speaking craftsmen) and partly because I didn’t believe buying leather goods from Japan represented good value.

For people interested in Japanese leather & denim goods, Kawatako (leather octopus) probably doesn’t need too much introduction. They are a workshop with several brands and different lines, producing everything from low-end belts held together with screws to higher end wallets made out of whale leather that breaks 4 digits in price. Other than the sword-tip belt, Kawatako is also well known for popularising the use of bridle type leather with waxy bloom, for example their hand-dyed waxy-bridle long wallets.

Anyway, long story short, I was able to acquire Kawatako’s famous “blade” belt at a very significant discount (~60 USD) some time ago. So here are my thoughts:

Firstly, there has been various iterations of the double-prong sword tip (or blade) belt over the years. Pricing ranges from 15,000 yen to 63,000 yen, depending on the type of leather used. This particular version costs approximately 160 USD.

Single-prong buckle versions also come in a variety of configurations & prices.

Basically, what we’re talking about – as far as single-layer strap & plain metal buckle belts go – is high end belting territory. It is obvious just looking at the belt & Kawatako’s other products that they are fairly well made. However, the question I asked myself when examining this belt is: “Does this belt represent fair value?”

Let us consider the leather first. This bridle-style leather used by Kawatako is more “finished” compared with most natural vegetable tanned leathers, but not so much as to cover all the natural characteristics of the cattlehide. The finish I’m talking about here is a higher oil content, achieved through the addition of fats & waxes after the leather has been tanned. The back-side has also been smoothly finished. The leather thickness is measured by me at an 12 oz (4.8 mm).

Immediately, the effects of this post-tannage currying are obvious:

A slightly darker than natural colour.

A less rigid hand compared with unfinished leathers.

A smoother but more pronounced grain that has a light pull-up.

This is good leather indeed, though not the same caliber as Sedgwick’s russet bridle leather or Clayton’s oak-bark natural leather. This leather reminds me of the higher quality natural veg tanned leathers from Tochigi tannery.

The buckle appears to be thick, solid brass which is smoothly finished – fairly solid.

The method of securing the buckle fold is very interesting, being tied by a single leather strip through four holes. This is not a very secure method (you can see in the photo below the strap is imperfectly folded as a result), but it does add an interesting, signature twist to the overall aesthetics. The overall look, enhanced by the sword-tip finishing at the other end, is unmistakably Kawatako. This is one of those rare pieces where, at first glance, it is easy to identify the maker.

One flaw is obvious at the buckle end though! The prongs are installed too loosely. The prongs wobble about as I try and buckle up; there is too much movement. I believe this is due to both the prong holes being cut imperfectly (see that flaring of the folded edge?), and the prongs being installed too forwardly.

Otherwise, the finishing of the belt is fairly good. The edges are nicely burnished with what appears to be a gum finish, and are smooth to touch. The holes are a nice oval shaped, cut cleanly and perfectly aligned.

Okay, lots of details critiqued here, and perhaps I am being more picky compared to usual. But do remember this is a fairly expensive belt! My expectations are similarly matched with the pricing.

Is this a good belt?   Yes.

Is this a good value belt?   No.

The conclusion: The detailing, although good, is not up to the standards that the pricing would demand and the leather, although nicely finished, could be a bit thicker at this price. As a belt that cost twice the amount of Terry Dear’s Quercus belt and is the same price as Equus’ russet bridle belt, the value proposition isn’t very good.

 

 

Kawatako “Blade” belt