Supplied West – copper key hook review

Ryan Schoek of Supplied West produces leathercrafts and metalworks out of his small workshop in Utah, USA. Having a fascination with the art of key carrying and a strict philosophy in material sourcing, Ryan first began studying and refining the simple but elegant Japanese key-hook around 10 years ago. Through his Supplied West brand, Ryan offers a variety of handmade key-hook designs which complement the leather goods produced in the same workshop.

Today we’ll have a look at a very cool variation of the Japanese key hook – the copper key hook!

Overview

The key hook came carefully parceled with a complimentary cotton carry bag. What we have here is a heavy duty, solid copper Japanese-style key hook, otherwise known as a fish hook key holder or a coiled key hook.

The most common version of the Japanese key hook is made of brass, and in East Asia it would often feature leather tassels and glass beads, Native American style. This type of key hook was previously introduced on the blog in the Angelos Leather brass key hook review which featured some years ago.

Supplied West’s take on the key hook, whilst similar in overall appearance, was shaped to accommodate thicker gauge metals, and is full-sized in order to facilitate storage of the keys in the back-pocket if desired.

The hook, the coil and the jump ring are hand-made by Ryan out of pure copper, whilst the split ring is solid brass and made in Japan.

Material

Ryan sources the copper used on this key hook from the American state of Georgia. If a brass version is desired, Ryan utilises brass from the state of Ohio.

I chose the copper version, instead of the standard brass, for two reasons. First is my opinion that copper is a better companion to natural vegetable tanned leathers and indigo denim, as copper ages in a more compatible way with leather and indigo. Second is that a solid copper key hook is very rare, and can surely be considered a house-style for Supplied West – I do not know of another person or workshop making copper hooks.

The flat split ring is from Japan and is made of solid brass. It is a much heavier and thicker than most split rings I’ve come across…heavy duty indeed! The brass will likely patina at a much slower rate compared with the copper.

The thickness of the split ring is 2.9 mm, whilst the width of the brass is a monstrous 3.6 mm! Probably the nicest brass split ring I’ve come across.

Construct

The process begins as Ryan cuts a piece of copper to length and then hand-shapes the smaller, lower loop. Ryan then hand-coils a thinner length of copper to seal off this lower loop and create a window for the jump ring that is to be attached.

The larger, upper loop is created after the copper is once again heated and hand-shaped. The copper jump ring is similar worked out of a slightly thinner length of copper into a sturdy donut, forming the link between the hook and the brass split ring.

Finally, the entire hook is tumbled and hand-sanded to create a matte finish that is very smooth to touch, with the intention of encouraging patina development (copper & brass oxidation).

I could find no flaws or rough edges in this hook, its entirety being streamlined and carefully crafted.

Opinion

Considering materials and hand-work, coiled key hooks don’t get any better than the ones made by Ryan at Supplied West. I say this after having seen many Japanese brass hooks and using a high quality one from Angelos for a couple of years.

In terms of coiled designs, this is as heavy duty as it gets. Another point of difference is the tumbling and hand sanding finishes, which you won’t find on other commercially available key hooks.

If you look closely at the photos in this review, you’ll see that initially I had another split ring attached to the brass one that was built in…this is because some of my keys and torches couldn’t be threaded through the brass split ring due to its thickness. In the end, I decided to minimise my key ring to just my house key, as you can see below  😛

Ryan recommends tucking your keys into the backpocket, and this key hook is certainly designed to facilitate this method of carriage easily. However, given that I carry a coin pouch in addition to my wallet in the back pockets, I’ll have to let my key hang loose for the time being.

At $45 USD, this key hook is a little more expensive than the basic brass key hooks which usually retail at $30 USD. However, the premium in cost, I feel, is entirely justified by the pure American copper and top-of-the-range Japanese split ring, as well as the detailed and meticulous metal work by a one-man workshop.

This is a key hook which complements leathers and denims very nicely, and the minimalist aesthetics allows it to be used as an EDC without looking unprofessional in a work or office environment. Overall, high recommended!

Ryan also offers the same coiled design in other metals (brass, brass+copper, gunmetal, etc) and has additional hook designs available, such as the signature Hangman hook. To see more, check out the Supplied West website!

Momotaro Jeans – GL007-MZ review

Indigoshrimp is very excited to feature the first ladies’ jeans review on this blog by denim hobbyist blaewen. (see her IG @blaewen)

Words & photos by blaewen. Editing & formatting by Indigoshrimp.

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While still in the minority, several brands are now doing some raw denim fits for women – thank you to Indigoshrimp for letting me crash his blog to bring you one of my favourites, Momotaro’s Copper label GL007-MZ!

Most denim-heads will be familiar with the Momotaro brand – based in Kojima, Okayama, Momotaro make their jeans “by hand, without compromise” and are known for their quality and attention to detail. I was interested to see if the quality they are known for carried over into their women’s line.

The GL007-MZ are a ‘tight straight’ fit – low rise, slim through the top block and thigh and not much of a taper below the knee.

Denim specs:

  • Sanforised
  • Selvedge
  • 14 oz
  • 100% Zimbabwe cotton

The denim is once washed off the coast of Okayama which leaves it soft and comfortable to wear right off the bat, and is a deep, inky blue which wears to an almost greeny blue. The denim has some character – uneven rather than slubby – but with more texture than your smooth, tightly woven Cone Mills type denim.

Like the men’s models this pair has the Momotaro signature pink inseam stitching. I thought this might be really obvious, but I’ve never had anyone notice/comment and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed myself while wearing them. The stitching around the waist and tops of the rear pockets is lemon yellow; and dark orange along the rear seam, yoke and edging the back pockets. The bar tacking looks to be a different mid-orange thread. The stitching is straight and even with no skips or hitches.

This is where it gets controversial: Initially, the battle stripes put me off Momotaro. Not only are they big and obvious, but on the ladies they are *pink* (although a white model does exist). Not my thing. However this pair has stitched arcs which are fairly subtle and echo the brands peach theme nicely – and I really like.

As far as I know all the women’s models (and most women’s jeans in general) have a zip fly rather than a button fly, but the top button is a customised Momotaro ‘peach’ button.

Friends, I never thought I’d be gushing about rivets on the internet, but here we are. I mean, check out these rivets – copper and branded with the Momotaro crest:

Can you blame me? The pockets are indigo dyed plaid – the front right pocket has a patch featuring Momotaro (the ‘peach boy’ of myth) ready to defeat an Oni, save his village and live happily ever after. The back yoke is lined with indigo fabric printed with the Momotaro family crest. I’ve not seen yoke lining in any other pair I own. The patch is thin leather with the peach boy and brand name. Nice.

Red line selvage and a slightly cream weft, which perhaps contributes to the greenish cast the denim has.

In summary: Momotaro are known for their quality and in my opinion this extends to their women’s line. The details – buttons, lining fabrics, rivets and denim – are all really impressive. My only reservation about this pair is the low rise – at 8″ it’s really at the limit of what I’d consider practical. Despite that, these are some of my favourite jeans.  I loved the color right off, and they are aging well (although slowly!) with some lovely ocean blues coming through in the higher wear areas. Overall, excellent quality and construction and I’d recommend them to any ladies looking for a well built pair with all the bells and whistles. They aren’t cheap, but comparable to other jeans of this quality.

The jeans on me: This is the bit you can skip if you’re not actually planning on wearing them! I am short and have a more athletic build, so I was concerned about the sizing being too slim for me but they actually work well. Being one wash I bought the size whose measurements most closely resembled a 100% cotton pair that already fit me. The waist was tight when I got them so I cold soaked and stretched the waistband (only) via the extremely scientific ‘ruler’ method (i.e. jamming a ruler inside the waist opening to stretch it while it dries) . It didn’t stretch much at all I have to say – though enough to be comfortable – so the common observation that you don’t get much stretch out of a pair of Momotaro seems accurate.

As I’ve worn them over time they’ve become really comfortable – I think the looser weave of the denim provides a bit more flex than a tighter weave does so they’ve moulded really well to my shape.  I’ve cold soaked/washed them once in the two years I’ve had them and while they tightened up they’ve relaxed back to their original size now.

The straighter fit took a bit of getting used to (especially coming from skin tight ‘legging’ jeans before that) but now that I’m used to it I love it. They’ve encouraged me to go even straighter/wider! (with a pair of Eternals)

I bought these from Denimio. They weren’t in stock but when I inquired they were able to order them in and measure them for me before they sent them out.

Voyej – Chahin IV belt review

I first came across Voyej back in 2011 when fellow mynudies forum member Stephen Lucas founded the brand as a project with some like-minded friends. Having shared our mutual love of leather goods via the forum during the golden years of the workwear/denim revival, I was asked to review their original belt, the Chahin I roller buckle belt, shortly after Voyej began its journey.

The Chahin I belt, in my humble opinion, offered great value and was a preferred alternative to the more utilitarian belts such as those made by Sugar Cane, Obbi Good Label or Tanner Goods which were popular among leather newbies at the time (2010-2011).

Now, 6 years later, I am very glad to share with you Voyej’s newest belt, the Chahin IV! Let’s have a look at how things have changed over these years.

Package

The belt comes carefully parceled, delivered quickly via EMS.

Along with the belt, Voyej provides a nice cotton storage bag and a certificate/manual/maintenance diary for those just starting their leather journey.

Certainly a comprehensive starter pack. The written information, in particular, demonstrates the fact that Voyej is very much a brand that is run by leather geeks, for leather geeks.

Leather

You might have already figured out that the Chahin series of belts are named after Industrias Chahin de Orizaba SA de CV,  the well known tannery in Mexico that produces the heavy steerhide used for this belt.

This is their 13 oz (measured 5.0 mm) natural vegetable tanned skirting leather, using rawhide from the USA. In my experiences this leather ages with a very nice red tone; just have a look at how my Chahin I belt has aged so far in this earlier post.

This leather undergoes a 4 week vegetable tanning process, and offers very good value for money compared with natural vegetable leathers produced in other parts of the world.

It has a supple temper and a smooth hand. Looking in closely with my macro lens, the grain is a little bit flatter and more compressed compared with more expensive leathers that go through a slower vegetable tanning process, though the trademark red tone cannot be beat!

The leather on my belt happens to be a noticeably more red compared with the usual natural colour – given that veg tanned leather is a natural product, this variation is understandable. I suspect, given the darker than natural colour and the very flexible temper, this leather may have been additionally finished after the tanning process.

One key aspect of this Chahin saddle leather I should mention is the fact that the natural version is beginner friendly. In fact, it is one of the best for people who are new to natural veg tanned leathers. This is due to the Chahin leather being easy to ‘evolve’, producing a nice colour during aging under most circumstances – a gradual browning with a nice peach/red tone – unlike other natural leathers which might produce, IMO, ugly palettes of brown if not handled properly.

The backside of the leather is smoothly finished, allowing the belt to slide over the denim waistband without too much friction.

Styling, Details & Construct

For this fourth iteration of the Chahin belt, Voyej aimed at moving the product closer to the roots of the workwear trend, taking inspiration from older, more militaristic & rugged styles of belting.

Everything from the hefty brass hardware to the thick, 1.5 inch strap pays homage to work belts of the past. This is probably the most rugged looking Chahin belt produced so far.

The sturdy, solid brass buckle is custom made for Voyej, and takes the basic form of a double-prong garrison with the accented left edge being sloped. All the edges and sides are smoothly finished, meaning the buckle will not scratch the leather.

Further, the brass is smooth yet unpolished, which I predict will result in a patina that is greater in quantity and quality. The prong holes are neatly cut, and the individual prongs do not move around too much, the buckle fold not flaring out either – more carefully made compared with the double-prong Kawatako belt reviewed last year!

For the stitching, Voyej has opted for minimalist hand-stitching this time. One of my recommendations regarding the original Chahin I belt was to revise the vertical stitchings, and I am glad to see the stitch layout being improved for Chahin III, and now IV.

The leather at the fold is gently skived and smoothly burnished, so that the head of the belt is not too thick or unwieldy. The side-profile featured in the photo below looks very neat indeed.

The Chahin IV continues with the use of artificial sinew threads, neatly hand-sewn and tied-off. In the photo below, you can see how the edges are smoothly wax-burnished – there is no fluff at all!

Twin rows of tear-drop shaped holes to match the double-prong buckle, the holes being evenly spaced along both planes and smoothly finished.

The tip of the belt is very interesting, featuring a pointed tip which is double-skived. This feature is neatly executed, although I have never used a leather item with this type of skiving before, so I can’t predict how this might wear over time.

Voyej’s logo is nicely and evenly debossed at the tip.

Looking more closely at the edges too, you can appreciate how much effort and attention has been paid to the burnishing. Very smooth indeed!

Thoughts

At $75 USD, not many other belts in the same price bracket can offer a similar level of quality – both in terms of material and craftsmanship – as Voyej’s Chahin belts.

I am very glad to see that the hardware quality and stitching lay-out have improved since I last reviewed a Chahin belt back in 2011, and that the pricing of the belts remain very competitive without sacrificing any crafting aspects of hand-made belts.

In fact, whilst many brands which sell their belts for below $100 USD take significant short-cuts (using poor quality veg tan leather, not burnishing the edges properly, using cheaply plated hardware, using crappy screws instead of hand-stitch, etc), Voyej is able to differentiate itself by offering these Chahin belts that are free of these fundamental compromises.

Further, I have to say that, even though hand-made products from South East Asia (specifically Indonesia in our case) don’t usually have the same renown or assumed prestige as those made in America or Japan, Voyej’s products compare very well against many popular leather brands from other countries.

I can confidently recommend the Chahin IV belt, especially to people who are new to the leather hobby or those with a budget of < $100 USD. To have a look at the Chahin IV and their other offerings, check out the Voyej webstore.

Given that the colour on my Chahin I belt has turned out quite nicely, I have high hopes for this Chahin IV belt – updates to come over the next months  🙂

Hepville – customised & tailored vest

It’s been a few years since Hepville garments have featured on the blog, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to have another look at Bela’s tailoring given I’d recently had an old vest repaired and a new vest tailored by his expert hands.

Hepville vests – 2011 vs. 2016

Hepville has been specializing in early to mid-century inspired, tailored gentlemen’s clothing for some time now, and in the past couple of years the quality of garments has been further elevated due to Bela’s completion of formal training as a bespoke tailor.

A point of difference between Hepville and other heritage garment manufacturers is that Hepville is a one man operation that can take on bespoke & custom projects. Hepville is very much a passion project for Bela, and he cares much more about the artistry expressed through his tailoring than remuneration or sales…there is only so much work one man can take on anyway!

The two vests in the photo above? Each one is unique with completely custom patterns and make-ups. In comparison to other tailors, Bela has the rare ability to handle work-wear and heavy-duty fabrics, making bespoke denim & duck canvas garments a possibility.

Let’s take a look at the new duck canvas vest!

The Fit & Pattern

The vest was bespoke made to my height and upper body measurements, and the fit is very much spot on – as expected for tailored clothing. Bela took care to match the pattern of the jacket to my body shape as well, utilising measurements and photos from multiple angles – quite a feat considering we are on opposite sides of the world!

The pattern and details of the vest are a combination of turn of century and mid-century features, with the shape being closer to vests made between  the 1880s to 1910s. During the design process Bela and I brainstormed about the vest together, him translating and adjusting my fanciful ideas into workable realities.

This is a lapeled vest with cinch-back, welted pockets and centred & darted shoulders.

Materials

 The fabric used on this vest is a narrow loom, selvedged, 9 oz duck canvas, which has been hand-dyed in two different colours. When new, this is a relatively rigid and heavy fabric. The beige outer and the turquoise lining, both the same canvas, combine to make a rugged vest. This is not the average vest that is meant as part of a 3-piece, and can certainly hold its own independent of any jacket or coat.

As you can see in the above photos, there is some variegation and tonal differences in the canvas, which are the results of the hand-dye process.

The canvas has a smooth and surprisingly textured hand – it is at the same time much heftier than modern fabrics, yet more refined than traditional work-wear cloths.

The Corozo buttons are new-old stock from the 1930s, a special treat from Bela.

Details & Construct

As mentioned previously, this vest features details from various early time periods. All put together with a combination of single needle machining and hand-stitching of high quality polyester threads.

The lapel is shapely yet neat, the collar being completely hand-stitched.

Darted shoulders give a nicer shape, the shoulder seams being partially hand-stitched.

Welted pockets, internally lined with canvas. The NOS Corozo buttons are nicely hand-sewn.

Check out the very neat edges and button holes too!

Steel cinch back, yet again precisely put together.

Cross stitching with tonal threading makes a strong joint, yet ensures the back cinch is not too busy.

I cannot emphasize enough how precisely and carefully the vest had been constructed. Bela paid special attention to exactness in pattern drafting & matching, with pieces being carefully cut and ironed, and further cutting and special methods of folding applied when the pieces are layered and sewn.

Bela’s undivided attention and considered tailoring techniques result in a garment that is at a level beyond what workshops and factories can achieve – yes, beating out even the most revered Japanese heritage reproduction manufacturers!

Opinion

Recommended?  Of Course!

Bela is a vintage-inspired workwear tailor who is obsessional about his craft – the precision in his techniques and his pedantic approach when it comes to using only the best materials are readily apparent in the Hepville garments he creates.

Unless you are absolutely rigid in your demand for local production or are interested in workwear due to utilitarian philosophies, you might consider a Hepville garment as the next step in this hobby. With Hepville, the words “custom” and “bespoke” have true meaning, and with sensible decisions regarding fabric and design on your part, Bela will craft for you truly unique pieces which will last many years.

I’d highly recommend checking out the Hepville Etsy store, where a selection of standard patterns and even some ready-to-ship items are available. Alternatively, send Bela a message if you have a custom project in mind.

Fit pics to come in the next few weeks  🙂

Faler Leathers – bifold wallet at 3 weeks

I’ve been wanting to show off how the Faler Leathers bifold is turning out. The Wickett & Craig natural vegetable tanned leathers is very beautiful at the moment – a brief few weeks where the leather is just the right shade of peach (or, ‘flesh’)……none of the pale awkwardness of new leather, yet more alive and enticing compared with something that is already cooked and brown.

Compare these photos to the initial ones featured in the review.

The development of the colour is fantastic at the moment, exceeding the patination of the grain structure. This is one of my favourite colour tones as far as natural leathers go.

I have to be careful from here on and avoid darkening the leather too quickly, otherwise the developments of the colour and grain will lose balance. That means no sun-tanning, and avoiding excessive feeding.

If you enlarge the photos, you might notice indigo straining has started to build. This is especially noticeable around the edges near the spine of the bifold.

You might also notice that the alignment of the wallet remains perfect, even with the wallet slowly molding to my back-pocket!

The stitching and burnishing all remain intact as well, with no particular parts showing signs of excessive wear.

John’s work on this bifold really is to be commended  🙂

I have also managed to keep the inside panels of the wallet relatively clean, doing so by taking out the cards and giving the inside a good brushing every couple of days (takes less than a minute!)

There’s a very nice shine building up too, and in the same photo above you can see how the shape and curvature of the wallet is changing with wear.

Definitely have a look at the Faler Leathers webpage. This wallet can be replicated through a custom order – simply send John an e-mail!

Hawkmoth Leather Co. – Natural belt at 1.5 months

Time for an update on the Natural belt from Hawkmoth Leather Co.

By the way, if you haven’t noticed, all the previous reviews from 2016 onward are now indexed, accessible via the menu. Have a look at the original Hawkmoth review there!

The photos here are from one month ago, around Xmas, showing effective wear of about 90 days.

The Baker’s oak bark leather has certainly been responsive!

Just compare how they look here with the photos I took when the belt first arrived from England.

The yellow tinge in the mellow brown gives this leather an unique appearance; the colour is quite pleasing.

The edges and the contact point of the buckle roller are showing further darkening, foretelling what the entire belt might look like in a year or so.

The grain really pops out too, the grain surface demonstrating plenty of interesting textures and pore formations.

The unfinished backside and water-burnished edges are picking up plenty of indigo from my jeans also.

This Natural belt is really shaping up in terms of patina development, adding further to Tom’s great handcrafting.

So far so good – a great example of hard-wearing goods that look better with use.

Check out Hawkmoth Leather Co. if you haven’t already seen Tom’s other crafts!

Gran Manitou – sacrebleu T-shirt

A couple of readers have asked me why there’s not more workwear or indigo-dyed jackets and shirts on the blog. I suppose the honest reason is that there would be way too much to write about…and I have been too lazy to expand this blog into more holistic explorations of workwear trends and heritage fashions.

That being said, just looking at belts and pants all the time can be a bit boring, so I want to have more focus on other articles of clothing in more detail for round two. Last year there had been a few footwear reviews, and from this point forward I’d like to add in some vests, jackets and shirts to the mix as well.

So, something a little bit different today…

The ‘Sacrebleu’ T-shirt by Gran Manitou.

Overview

Gran Manitou is a new Canadian brand specializing in heritage style, limited edition T-shirts hand-made with natural fabrics such as wool & silk. Taking inspiration from the early French-Canadian explorers and woodsmen of the 17th century, Gran Manitou aims to create T-shirts that will wear and age like fine leather jackets or narrow-loom denim dungarees.

The Sacrebleu T-shirt is one of their first offerings, combining a modified Henley shirt pattern with fine Australian merino wool and indigo hand-dyeing.

Fit

Given the wool fabric has a bit of stretch, this T-shirt can be fitted to your liking by sizing it differently. For me, who has a 44 inch chest circumference, the XL featured here gives a relaxed fit, and sizing down to a L would give a much more fitted silhouette.

The neck opening and shoulders are quite generous, which is great for the Australian summer I’m currently sweating through. Again, simply size down if you want a trimmer fit. At true to size, I’d say this T-shirt has a modified box-fit, being a little more drape-y and longer than most vintage Ts – more comfortable for those with larger chests or wider shoulders.

The longer length is great, given that I am not sized like someone from the early 20th century… For reference, this XL shirt extends about 8 cm past my belt, and I am 185 cm tall. The curved hem lends to an enhanced appearance when the shirt is not tucked.

Material

The raw material for the fabric and the fabric itself are both produced in Australia. The superfine Merino wool is woven here in shrimpy land into a light but dense fabric in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.

I think here lies a significant part of what makes this T-shirt special. You can use the longest staple cotton and spin it on the slowest setting on the most ancient loop-wheel knitting machine, but at the end of the day the cotton fabric cannot match the performance, drape or longevity of a fine wool fabric.

This Merino wool fabric is then hand-dyed with pure synthetic indigo by Gran Manitou, each shirt being vat-dipped three times. As you might expect for hand-dyeing fabrics such as linen or wool, the appearance of the dye is variegated and quite lustrous.

A very cool aspect of this indigo + wool combination is that, being made of fine wool, this T-shirt does not need to be washed in water very often – making do with regular airing of the shirt, with an occasional cold hand-wash – allowing it to be worn much like raw denim and to age with more character.

The folks at Gran Manitou have tested not washing this shirt for up to one year without odors emerging…though I don’t think I can achieve such a long run with the much hotter climate here in Australia  :-p

The buttons are made of mother-of-pearl.

Construct

The Sacrebleu T-shirt is entirely hand-made in Canada by the folks at Gran Manitou.

The tag is sewn into the collar construct.

The three buttons are hand-sewn, with the button holes very nicely made.

The red lamb-skin tag on the left sleeve adds a bit of contrast.

All the seams and joints are securely and neatly lock-stitched using black threading.

All in all, a very secure and neat make. No frayed edges or loose threading at all; certainly, made for durable wear.

Opinion

Overall, a few very interesting twists on the classic T make this Sacrebleu shirt from Gran Manitou a garment that is worth checking out for workwear and indigo enthusiasts.

At $120 CAD, it’s not the cheapest T-shirt, thought I believe it to be good value. Consider the countries of origin for the materials and manufacturing, the fact that it is made out of superfine Merino wool, that the fabric is hand vat-dyed and the very careful hand-make. Compared with tube-knit cotton T-shirts from, let’s say, the Japanese denim & workwear brands – which usually would cost at least $100 – the Sacrebleu shirt is similarly priced yet utilizes a superior fabric with better performance & drape.

Further, the sizing and the cut are much more compatible with Western builds and larger East Asian folks like myself, without straying too much from old school aesthetics, unlike the strict vintage box fits (featured on many Japanese Ts) that tend to be too short, too tight around the neck or fit awkwardly in the shoulders & chest.

Certainly a new maker worth checking out, and I’ve heard that more exciting garments are on the way for the next northern hemisphere summer as well. Definitely head to their website and have a look at Gran Manitou!