The Rite Stuff – ‘Harvester’ henley

Following up from the post about my meet-up with Bryan, founder of The Rite Stuff, here are some more details about the ‘Harvester’ long-sleeve henley shirt that was briefly featured.

The Harvester henley is the second shirt being released by The Rite Stuff, and is again being made by Japanese workshops under the supervision of John Lofgren. Pre-orders are being taken for December, my own Harvester here being an early sample.

Bryan himself has provided a very interesting write-up on the brand’s blog discussing the early miner’s underwear & sporting roots of the henley shirt and his thoughts behind the design, which you can read here. What we’ll do in this post is to have a closer look at the details…

 

Fit

If you already follow Bryan on Instagram or have been watching The Rite Stuff’s release pre-orders, you’ll have seen Bryan wearing his size M Harvester already.

Now, Bryan is a trim and fit guy.

Me? Not so much.

If you’ve wondered how the Harvester would fit on a chunkier ape, see below. I am 185 cm, 97 kg, chest size 44, wearing an XL.

The fit is not overly tight, allowing the henley to be worn both as an undergarment and as outwear. The body is tubular in shape. The upper arms are relatively roomy, and the sleeve length is on the longer side (yay!)

The waist is not overly slender, but does allow very neat tucking of the shirt as there’s not much excess fabric.

The cuffs at the wrist is fairly snug fitting, stretching out slightly with wear. Bryan has mentioned that the production version of the Harvester will feature cuffs that are more stretchy.

Overall, the Harvester henley is boxy yet long, a vintage style fit for the taller modern man.

 

Materials

The medium weight, all-cotton knit featured on the Harvester is made of unbleached, ecru cotton. Ecru is best described as a very natural, fawn colour.

The fabric breathes well, and provides sufficient insulation for venturing outdoors during Spring and Autumn times. It drapes very well as far as cotton textiles are concerned.

Small pieces of the cotton plant remain in the fabric, showing up as small, irregular brown pieces of inclusion within the fabric. The inclusions do make the fabric mildly scratchy at first, but this feeling is gone after one or two washes.

The ribbings for the cuffs and neck feature the same ecru cotton.

A good comparison for the ecru colour would be the contrast with the bleached white tag, as below.

Navy and ecru threads are used.

The 14 mm cat’s eye buttons are made of brown mother-of-pearl.

These have incredible variegation in tone and colour, showing some very nice colours with sufficient light.

All in all, the materials featured give a very organic feel (and are indeed, all natural). The rustic colours could combine well with any variety of workwear and denim.

 

Details & Construct

The Harvester features some neat details.

First up is the centred, button-down neck opening, which features three mother-of-pearl buttons. These cat’s eye buttons are wider than the usual shirt button, and are very easy to use.

The placket facing curves at the top, giving a neater appearance when worn.

The familiar The Rite Stuff woven tag feature on this Harvester prototype. According the Bryan, the production version may use a new tag design.

The neck ribbing is attached to the body with rugged lock-stitching.

Two layers of fabric feature as a half-circle inset at the posterior neck, to assist with perspiration absorption.

The ribbed cuffs are sturdy and well attached to the shirt via lock-stitching.

Indeed, most of the Harvester is put together via lock-stitching, which is impressively executed.

There is some single-stitch action only at the placket facing.

A cool detail is that along the side and shoulder seams, the inside threads of the lock-stitch are blue coloured, resulting in some interesting dual-tone contrast inside the shirt.

 

Thoughts

The Harvester henley is a very interesting piece from The Rite Stuff, and perhaps telling of the path that brand has embarked upon more so than the earlier Heracles shirt, with Bryan focusing on turn of the century to 1930s detailing and styling.

The materials, detailing and overall construct are truly well thought out & executed, perhaps slightly understated – this is not a chunky indigo henley costing in the hundreds, but rather the Harvester is a basic but considered addition to a work-wear collection.

The Harvester henley is a versatile garment that will add a bit more authenticity and retro feel to your outfit – by itself, under a horsehide jacket, beneath a wool over-shirt……however you wear it, the Harvester will increase the matching permutations in your wardrobe.

At $95 USD for Japanese sewing and materials, the value is certainly there! A similar long sleeve garment from one of the Japanese work brands will cost at least 30% more.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Harvester is currently in pre-order stage, with delivery scheduled next month. Check it out at The Rite Stuff! This one comes highly recommended.

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The Rite Stuff – catching up with brand founder Bryan Shettig.

Now that I’m back from my trip, I’ll be putting up some photos and little stories on the blog over the next many weeks. It was mainly a family holiday, so I didn’t have all that much time to visit denim or leather related places, yet I’ve hit up a few stores which you guys might find interesting.

I caught up with Bryan Shettig of The Rite Stuff towards the end of my trip, but I’m putting this up first as I want to show you some of the pieces available for pre-order right now. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to see my review of The Rite Stuff’s first release of the Heracles chambray shirt.

The shirt was well received and ended up being stocked by specialist workwear and denim stores around the world, enabling Bryan to start production of the next few pieces and begin planning further garments for next year.

Bryan and I met up in Taipei – where he currently resides, and where I was born. We hit up a well known dumpling joint, and started talking all things work wear. I was really impressed by the wear he’s put into his Skull Jeans wallet. Check out this bad boy:

After dinner we sat down at a local chocolate cafe for some more denim gossip and I also had a look at some prototypes of the upcoming releases.

Bryan is also the Fades Editor at Heddels, so he’s got some great stories about the good & the bad within the denim and workwear industries – lots of politics, rivalries and shops not paying for their stock, haha!

The most interesting news of late are, of course, the various disruptions that Japanese webstores like Denimio and Okayama Denim are causing, which are mostly good for consumers for sure, yet retailers and clothing brands have to adapt to a new set of rules.

Bryan also shared with me the intricacies and difficulties of getting garments made in Japan. It’s a pretty intense process, to say the least.

By the way, Bryan himself is wearing the Harvester henley shirt in these photos.

Speaking of the Harvester, this is a really nice ecru cotton undershirt style henley.

Like the Heracles chambray shirt, it is made by John Lofgren’s workshops in Japan.

I’ll have more details of this Harvester shirt in a couple of days when I’ll post a more in-depth review of my shirt.

The next two items are the Wabash and Hickory Stripe scarves.

The hickory stripe fabric is very nice indeed!

Old school, shirting-grade fabric.

The wabash is my favourite though!

The indigo is amazing, and the dots are biege~~~

I probably should have spent time taking more and better photos, but honestly we were too busy just talking about our shared hobby. It’s always very nice to meet like-minded people who are interested in work-wear and well made things in general.

Anyway, check out The Rite Stuff if you’re interested in any of these pieces; all three can be pre-ordered, the scarves being due for delivery later this month and the Harvester will be available next month (December).

Stay tuned for my review of the Harvester henley shirt this weekend. Catch you in a couple of days!

 

Rushton Leather – ‘Russian Kip’ wallet

We’re going to take a look a work-style wallet that’s a little different from the usual fair today – this one made by Lee at Rushton Leather, inspired by ‘Russia Red’ gentlemen’s shoes!

Lee is relatively new to the custom leather goods scene, but his leather crafting skills have been honed through his employment in the British shoe-making industry. This particular wallet, a test piece, showcases not only the very special Russia Kip reproduction leather from Baker’s tannery, but also styling details borrowed from British footwear and early 20th century English military gear.

We’ll cover a bit more of the back story about the inspirations behind this wallet as we go. Let’s take a look at this very interesting billfold.

 

Design

The layout of this wallet is that of a basic 6 card billfold.

Unlike many work-style billfolds showcased on this blog, Lee’s version is not exaggerated in size and has a more minimalist layering. Indeed, this wallet is styled after British country shoes (think Tricker’s, Alfred Sargent, etc) and also English military wares, so the detailing is more refined and classic compared with Americana styles of work leathers.

The wallet measures 11 cm x 9 cm when folded.

This is a very easy size to handle with one hand.

The shape is not a rectangle however, as Lee has rounded the bottom corners to add some contrast to the overall appearance.

All up there are 7 layers of leather, creating one notes compartment and six card slots in total. There are no additional storage compartments, though each card slot is capable of holding two cards easily.

The layout is symmetrical, with three slots per side.

The wallet measures 1.5 cm in thickness when folded.

The thickness has been minimised by foregoing the hidden compartments, giving the wallet additional sleekness.

This is a medium sized billfold, as you can tell by the measurements given earlier, and thus it fits easily into any jeans pockets.

All in all, this wallet is a medium sized billfold and features a simple but usable layout. This British detailing is smoother and more subtle compared with Americana styles of leather goods.

 

Leather

Some centuries ago, there had been a well known leather manufactured in Russia – variously called Russia Red or Russian calf or Russian Reindeer – this leather had been made of cattlehide, slowly tanned (by modern standards) and stuffed full of birch oils & animal fats for added resistance towards water. The leather was often then finished by dyeing the grain red with a natural dye and artificially printing its surface (much like modern Scotch grain leather), imparting additional grain toughness. Apparently this leather was mainly used for fine work, such as bookbinding, upholstery and carry goods.

The method of manufacture for this Russian leather has been lost to the ages, and never fully reproduced despite many attempts over hundreds of years. Yet in 1972 many cargo boxes of Russia Red leather were salvaged by divers off the English coast. These containers were originally the cargo of the Metta Catherina, which sunk in 1786.

It is impossible to say what Russia Red leathers had looked, felt and smelt liked originally. Even with the 1972 discovery of the ‘New Old Stock’ leathers, they were but one variation of the leather – which has had history spanning hundreds of years – and it is impossible to accurately determine the effects of 200-odd years of deep sea storage.

Nevertheless, the discovery sparked renewed interest in the leather and further attempts at reproducing it. Baker’s tannery perhaps has the best reproduction, showcased here, by virtue of maintaining the slow bark tannage that would have been the modus operandi of the majority of leather tanning up until the industrialisation of leather production.

The hide comes from kip – an adolescent cow. Birch & Oak bark from England and Willow bark from France provide the tannins, slowly transforming hide into leather over 12 months. The leather is then dressed with fats, waxes and Birch oil. The diamond/hatchet print is then applied to the grain to give the texture you see here.

I’m not sure about the dye/dyes used here.

I cannot comment as to the accuracy of the reproduction, but I can say that this is a very fine and superbly interesting leather!

The aroma of birch and oak is apparent – more mellow than the 100% oak bark tanned leather from the same tannery, but very strong nevertheless, permeating the entire room.

The textured grain surface has a moderate degree of shine. Even with the artificial print, the pore structure remains evident on closer examination. The reddish brown tone is deep and layered – there is gentle variegation in the colour, resulting from a pull-up effect.

The hand feel is much more organic and lively compared with most other printed leathers. The grain is very water and scratch resistant, as advertised.

Curiosity aside, this Russia kip leather from Baker’s is extremely high quality, and truly old world…much more so than the various re-tanned leathers that are being marketed as ‘heritage’ nowadays.

The lining and inner are made of ‘Hermes’ leathers.

Tannerie d’Annonay’s Vegano calf leather is used for the lining – you will have seen darker coloured versions of this leather used for higher end English shoes – featuring an very supple aniline finish and a smooth, slightly waxy feel. This French calfskin is one of the nicest vegetable tanned calf leathers in the world.

It is interesting to note that Horween is currently trying to reproduce this type of veg tanned calf, after discontinuing calf production some decades ago.

Another French calf leather, this time the country grain calf from Tanneries Du Puy, is used for the inner. This is another popular leather among high end English shoes makers, though Tanneries Du Puy’s grained calfskin is quite well known among various sectors of the fashion community in general.

This is a very fine leather, nicely grained, supple and somewhat waxy…..though not nearly as dense as Baker’s Russian kip.

As previously hinted, Hermes had purchased Tannerie d’Annonay in 2013 and Tanneries Du Puy in 2015. The trend of fashion powerhouses acquiring Italian and French tanneries is an interesting one to explore.

 

Construction

This wallet is entirely hand-made, everything from the cutting to the stitching. Lee’s time crafting fine English shoes in Northamptonshire has resulted in a style of hand-craft that is rather unique in a market which is dominated by either British saddlery styles or Americana.

The cutting and panel matching on this wallet are nicely done.

The outshell had a consistent shape throughout, and the inner panels were symmetrical across the two sides.

The inner did slightly over-lap the outshell over a segment along the upper edge (you can see this in the first photo of this post), but apart from that there are no errors.

The individual panels had all the edges neatly finished.

The edge finishing is well done – nicely rounded and wax burnished. The transparent wax burnishing allows the visualisation of the leather colours and layers – one of the hallmarks of work-style leathers.

The saddle-stitch sewing on this wallet is unusually dense – at 7 SPI across the top edge and a very tight 8 SPI along the sides and bottom. This dense stitching was made possible by fine handwork and dense, nicely vegetable tanned leathers.

The hand-stitching is neatly executed. The linen threads sit close to the surface, and are placed.

The tonal, wheat thread colour allows the leathers to shine as the main characters, and gives the wallet a more understated appearance.

At two points along the inner, in between the card panels, the threads have cut into the leather, but these are minor cosmetic imperfections that are barely noticeable and do not affect functionality. The issue here is that the Tanneries Du Puy calf leather is not quite dense enough to hold such tight stitching.

Although three different leathers were used, the careful construction allows the panels to blend smoothly into each other and the wallet appears to be a solid whole.

Overall, very nice hand-crafting featured on this wallet. The finer, denser hand-stitch was particularly interesting – an English twist on the work-style aesthetic which helps this wallet stand out.

 

Thoughts

Overall, this Rushton Leather wallet made by Lee in Northamptonshire is one of the most interesting wallets in my collection. From the superb Russia kip leather used to the refined British workwear and military styling, this wallet really stands apart from the usual Americana fair that is most common in our denim & leather hobbies.

Like me, Lee is a big fan of grained leathers, so there is a sense of solidarity here, now that the leather hobby is drowning in shell cordovan and English bridle leather wallets.  The Russia kip reproduction from Baker’s is one of the most interesting leather’s I’ve come across in terms of tannage, texture, smell and hand-feel; I would very much like to commission more goods made out of this Russian leather.

I am not the biggest fan of calf skin – as much as I like leather, I’m a little uneasy about the idea of killing animals when they’re young – but ethics aside, the French calf leathers used here are superb.

The hand-crafting here is pretty good. Much work has gone into making this wallet, and the dense hand-stitching is particularly noteworthy. Factoring in both crafting and materials, at 100 GBP this Rushton Leather wallet is priced very nicely.

Lee also provides a service where update photos are sent to his customers as he crafts the leather goods, so you really get a sense of being involved in the crafting process of your commissioned item.

Full customisation is possible through Rushton Leather, and I do have a couple of wallet designs in mind that would look great, IMO, in Russia kip.

Stay tuned for more from Lee on this blog later next year.

Until then, if you’d like your own Russia kip carry piece, check out Rushton Leather at Lee’s etsy shop and Instagram page!

The Rite Stuff blog

The Rite Stuff founder – and blog friend – Bryan has started documenting the launch of his brand and the inspirations & thoughts behind his products and work wear in general.

There’s some really interesting posts that make for great weekend reading, check it out here:

https://the-rite-stuff.com/blogs/news

Keep an eye out on The Rite Stuff, as there are several interesting pieces coming up later this year. In case you missed it, have a look at my review of the Heracles work shirt from earlier this year here.

 

 

Studio d’Artisan D1755 ‘Suvin Gold’ review by beautiful_FrEaK

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

This time he examines the SdA D1755!

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

~

 

Studio d’Artisan D1755 ‘Suvin Gold’

Where do I start? Why did I buy another pair of jeans? What made me chose the SdA D1755? Not easy to answer.

If you ask around the denim community you will often hear that peak denim is over and the raw denim, selvedge, work wear trend is over. Yet the denim companies we all love push out new release after new release and Limited Editions and new models every other week. Some would argue that this is very well a sign for the decline in popularity but what do I know about economics?

The D1755 is one of Studio d’Artisan’s latest releases utilizing a luxury cotton variety in a modern cut. This alone grabbed my attention and after checking out the further details I was sold on them.

 

The Cut

SdA used their own 107 cut and modified it slightly. The rise on the D1755 is a little bit higher giving you more room in the crotch. But keep in mind, it’s still a medium rise at best. The thighs are roomy enough (for me) and they have a strong taper without giving you that carrot look. They come with a decent inseam length so you taller folks should also be able to enjoy them. Here is what my pair measured before I washed them. Size 34.

Waist: 35″
Front rise: 11″
Back rise: 15.5″
Thigh: 13.4″
Knee: 9.5″
Leg opening: 7.9″
Inseam: 37″

All in all, a perfect modern fit on my body.

 

The Denim

Now to the second important part of every pair of jeans, the denim itself! It is right hand twill denim with a red selvedge line and clocks in at 15oz. The highlight of this denim is the cotton SdA used. For the warp they used Supima cotton, a well-known and ELS cotton. But for the weft they used the luxury cotton named Suvin Gold. This cotton is grown in India and is an extreme long staple cotton with very fine fibers. This allows the cotton to be spun into very fine and strong threads. This should also result in a very soft denim.

The indigo shade is quite deep and as the weft doesn’t show much, the denim has a very dark color. Judging by the red cast of the denim I assume only 100% indigo was used without any fillers. The red cast gives the denim a purple hue.

The denim is really quite soft and very nice to the touch. It’s also very comfortable to wear. After washing the jeans got more rigid but as usual this feeling goes away after a day or two. The denim started pretty hairless as you would expect from fine and long cotton fibers but after washing and wearing a hairy surface is developing. While there are smaller irregularities, the denim also has a modern feel and look to it. Not as rough and vintage feeling like denim from Warehouse or Full Count and also no slub-fest as with Oni or PBJ.

After wearing them for 3 days I have the feeling the denim could fade fast as already lighter highlights are showing.

 

The Details

If you already use two of the most luxury cottons for the denim, you shouldn’t be stingy with nice details. Studio d’Artisan – being in the game since 1979 – definitely knows this.


We have half-lined back pockets with raised hems, selvedge at the coin pocket with peek-a-boo selvedge, selvedge details at the fly, a thick but smooth leather patch, branded hardware, black buttons, raised belt loops which are tucked into the waistband and herringbone pockets bags…well, that’s it but it’s all I would ask for!

 

The Construction

I often count SdA to the bigger Japanese brands with the best stitching quality. Except for one little deviation, these are also very neatly sewn. Only one excess thread was sewn into the chainstitch at the hem.


Besides the presumable durable denim, SdA wanted construct these jeans very tough. The stitching at the crotch and at side of the hips is doubled, similar to what The Flat Head is doing. The sewn in belt loops should be durable. And also the half-lined back pockets should save your pockets for wearing through.


A downside for the back pockets: they are tiny! They have really the smallest back pockets of all my jeans. They can just fit my OGL wallet but if you like bigger wallets you might have a problem. The front pockets however are very accessible and the pocket bag is deep enough to fit your EDC.

 

Conclusion

Studio d’Artisan really put out a great pair of jeans! The modern fit is very versatile and can be worn cuffed, stacked or hemmed to your desired length. The denim is really the eye catcher on this release. Of course it reads fabulous on paper but it also feels, looks and wears nicely. Now we only have to see if it fades as nicely as it feels on your skin.
I’m not yet decided if I will join the DWC this year but if I do, I will most likely join with this pair of D1755.

Hubb Leather – Partner belt

You might remember Ian of Hubb Leather from the Craftsmen’s Own wallet post last December – I’ve been hoping to review a product from each of the craftsmen featured, and so it is today we’ll be taking a look at a very interesting piece by this British belting specialist.

Ian has been working with leathers for around 6 years now, starting off with making a camera strap for himself. The joy of leather crafting had taken hold, and since that time Ian’s work has become progressively more refined with influences from British, American and other European styles of leather work.

I came across Hubb Leather by chance on Instagram last year, and was immediately intrigued by Ian’s playful & memorable takes on classic workwear leather goods.

Featured today is Ian’s very interesting take on the British bridle belt – the Partner belt, in English bridle leather and fitted with aged Marshalsay (quick-release) buckle. This is a true work belt for sure, and yet the details and aesthetics are quite different from the traditional British saddlery styles of belting often seen on this blog. Indeed, the belt is named after Clint Eastwood’s character in the 1969 movie ‘Paint Your Wagon’…

Let’s have a look.

 

Leather

This bridle belt features Clayton’s version of the famous English bridle style of leather. For many years, as far as bridle leathers are concerned, Sedgwick’s hand-finishing had always been miles ahead of everyone else. Clayton’s tannery however, had focused on innovation, adopting a modernized approach to making bridle styles of leathers, evening applying it to horsehide!

(Baker’s version of the bridle is very different, and I think it’s best considered in its own, separate category.)

I’ve showcased all of these bridle leathers on this blog over the years. However, Sedgwick’s currying operation has actually been purchased by Clayton’s parent company in recent times, and as a result true English bridle leather will now come from either Baker’s tannery or Clayton Leather Group. Sedgwick’s English bridle is now part of Clayton’s line-up of leather tannages, produced as the ‘traditional’, hand-crafted version of bridle leather; Clayton’s own version of the bridle, which they have been producing prior to the acquisition, is now sold as the ‘modern’ bridle range.

Technicalities and origins aside, this Conker English bridle leather featured on the Partner belt is shiny, supple, and hard-wearing with an open but condensed grain.

The characteristic waxy bloom tells of the hand-stuffing process (mostly polished off before it got to me, but traces can still be seen).

The density of this leather is produced by a setting/compression process.

If there ever was a leather that has been engineered for belting, English bridle leather would be it; unless the patina potential of a natural or unfinished leather is desired, no other modern leather can make as nice a belt as English bridle, IMO.

The backside of the leather is very nicely finished, having a smooth ‘waxed-flesh’ style of texture, and also demonstrates waxy bloom.

At around 4.0 mm thick (10 oz), this English bridle leather makes for a moderately hefty strap. The incredible density of this leather adds to the ruggedness too.

The keeper is made with Italian bridle leather. This is an interesting leather I’ve not come across before; it is more variegated in grain finish compared with English bridles. The dark brown colour makes for interesting contrast to the Conker coloured strap. Ian has told me he can also make the belt strap with Italian bridle leathers.

 

Styling, Hardware, Details & Construct

In case you haven’t guessed from the name, Ian was inspired by the rough & rugged miner’s style of the American Old West in the creation of this Partner belt. It is the fusion of this rougher style of Americana and British saddlery work which makes this belt very unique.

On one hand we have the classic European materials: British and Italian leathers, linen threading, Marshalsay quick-release buckle. On the other, we have Americana styling: rounded edges, hand saddle-stitched perimeter, contrast keeper. It is a confluence of styles and details…

This combination could have ended up looking way too busy or mismatched – certainly would have been the case if I had ordered a custom design from Ian, haha. Seriously though, Ian has made it work, tying together the various elements to create a very unique styling that is more than just another quick-release belt.

Let’s have a look at the details then. First, this Partner belt is a narrower work belt, being only 3.07 cm wide (1.2″). I’ve never tried such a narrow belt before, but I find that it does work very well with work-wear style pants and, of course, denim jeans!

At the front end while worn, we have a mix of colours: the off-white threading, the aged brass, the Conker of the strap and the dark brown of the keeper. I feel the darker colour of the keeper ties the aged brass nicely to the Conker colour of the strap.

Speaking of the brass, this Marshalsay quick-release buckle has been gone through a forced patina process; Ian has used baking soda, organic cider vinegar, sea salt and heat to produce the surface effects you see in the photos here.

Marshalsay buckles were originally used by 19th century English firefighters, allowing them to quickly deploy the leather water hoses of that era.

The quick-release operation of the buckle is pretty straight forward – simply press downwards on the bottom hinge, which then allows the top hinge to be pulled to the right side, thus opening up the buckle like you see the the photo below.

This quick release mechanism probably saves you only a second or so of time, when it comes to unbuckling your belt. Very cool to play around with, nevertheless, and the somewhat unusual buckle shape and bolted hinges do contribute heavily toward the work-style of this belt.

The patina work that Ian has done nicely outlines the individual components of the buckle, and even some of the finer detailing such as the textured thumb press you see in the photo above.

The keeper has been sewn in, and is quite firmly set in place – it does not wobble or shift with use.

The hand-saddle stitch at the buckle fold is very nicely done. The tension is even and firm, but Ian has taken care that the threads do not bite into the leather.

Indeed, at the edges of the buckle fold, you’ll see that although the threading sits close to the leather, there is no damage to the grain or the edge itself.

The prong hole has been precisely made, and during operation the prong does not wobble at all. This is particularly important for a quick-release buckle, as the prong shoulders the majority of the pressure on the belt when the actual buckle has been released.

The backside of the buckle fold is neatly finished too.

Onto the strap itself.

One of the defining features of the Partner belt is the full perimeter saddle-stitching. This does take much time and effort, of course, but Ian’s stitch-work is remarkably careful and consistent throughout the length of the strap.

At 5 SPI in density, there are approximately 420 individual stitches on this belt!

The tear-drop shaped holes are a very nice touch, and work well with the front-end design and the curvature on the buckle.

The strap is finished with a short, pointed tip.

The backside of the belt, in terms of leather and stitching, is just as refined as the rest of the belt. In fact, factoring out the orientation of the buckle and keeper, the belt could very well be worn in reverse and still look great!

Finally, one of the most impressive aspects of this belt is Ian’s edge finishing. In case you’re new to the leather hobby, I can tell you that the edges you see in the photos here are the results of very impressive burnishing work!

Granted, English bridle leather, given the density, is not a difficult leather to burnish. However, the way Ian has curved and smoothed over the edges is still very impressive.

The beeswax burnish is slick, moderately shiny and very consistent even at the buckle fold. The burnishing work really adds an extra level of refinement to the belt, and helps bind the various details together into a coherent whole.

I can’t say enough goods things about the burnish on the edges! No fluffiness at all. Super smooth. Sexy, almost.  😀

All in all, this Partner belt is a work belt in name and styling, but truly can be considered an heirloom piece in terms of materials and craftsmanship.

 

Thoughts

The Partner belt from Ian at Hubb Leather is very different from the other work belts in my collection – for me it is one of the most unique and thoughtful designs I’ve come across. It stands out in many ways, from the blending of British and American styling to the relative narrowness of the strap contrasting with the full perimeter saddle-stitching… many interesting details which combine well, resulting in a belt that fully compliments denim jeans and vintage style work-wear.

Ian’s playful design and considered crafting allow the many contrasting components to combine into a sensible whole. I think this belt is a great take on Old West leather goods: clean but shabby, rugged but refined, a Western work belt for the modern age.

The more I look into the finer aspects of this Partner belt, the more I’m impressed by Ian’s work. No short-cuts have been taken here – everything from the 400+ hand-stitches to the custom patina creation for the buckle requires much time, effort and skill.

The materials used are impressive too. The bridle leathers, linen threading and solid brass Marshalsay buckle are all top of the line – it doesn’t get any better than this, unless you were to request fully customised materials from the tanner or blacksmith.

All in all, I’m very impressed by my first piece of leathercraft from Ian at Hubb Leather. The Partner belt is a confluence of creative thinking, old world materials and considered craftsmanship, and definitely has a place in your wardrobe no matter how extensive your belting collection may be!

Looking for some Old West styling with British refinement?

Check out Hubb Leather on Instagram @hubb_leather.

Or e-mail Ian directly: hubbleather AT icloud DOT com

Voyej ‘Superlative’ – Misaka wallet

It’s a very exciting time for the folks at Voyej as they roll out the Superlative series of leathercrafts, their most detailed and high-end work so far. Inspired by the hobbyist origins of the workshop, this new sub-brand by Voyej is heavily influenced by Japanese leathercrafting.

To understand this Japanese influence, we’ll have to go back in time to the mid-2000s. It was during this period that work-wear, old school denim and related leather goods began gaining traction in Western internet circles – first exported out of Japan by Japanese streetwear fans of that era, and subsequently adopted by die-hard denim hobbyists of the Superfuture and myNudies forums.

Through the denim hobby, many of us were introduced to the leather hobby as well, at a time when there were very few work-wear inspired leather crafters outside of Japan. Certainly the Japanese craftsmen and workshops were the reference points for quality and craftsmanship, and many of us would purchase leather goods through proxies from Japan.

Among these early hobbyists outside of Japan were the guys behind Voyej; they saw an opportunity to set up a similar workshop in their homeland of Indonesia, and created Voyej back in 2011. I remember exchanging ideas and photos with Stephen, one of Voyej’s co-founders, on the denim forums right up until the creation of Voyej and my review of their very first belt, the Chahin I belt. Fast forward to today, Voyej is one of the biggest names in South East Asia when it comes to leather goods, and one of the few brands in the world with a true focus on the hobby of ageing natural leathers.

From the perspective of a fellow hobbyist and as someone who has watched the Voyej brand grow, I’m very happy to see launch of this new Superlative series – the next step up in craftsmanship and a milestone for the workshop indeed!

Today, we’ll be examining the billfold of the Superlative series: the Misaka wallet.

 

Packaging

The Misaka wallet comes in a very impressive box – probably the nicest packaging I’ve seen on a leather product outside of goods from European fashion houses. If you’re buying this as a present for someone, you won’t even need to gift wrap it!

The wallet is nicely stored inside a cloth bag…but hey, there’s also a wax-sealed letter.

Voyej has always been keen to guide and educate people who are new to the leather hobby, and their products usually come with a journey card of some kind. This letter takes it to the next level though, and contains a helpful guide for newbies.

The packaging, all in all, is classy and well thought out.

Design

The Misaka is a traditional billfold in layout – slightly larger than most modern billfold wallets. It measures 9 cm tall and 12 cm long when folded.

The wallet folds down the centre spine, with the leather held in tension in such a way that the resting position favours closure of the wallet.

The inner panels piece together to give six horizontal card slots, with two storage compartments located beneath the slots.

The card slots are slightly over-sized, making card insertion and removal quite easy. The front panels also feature the signature ‘V’ accent. The storage compartments and notes compartment are all rather spacious, giving this billfold extra holding capacity if required.

All up, there are 8 layers of leather paneling that makes up this wallet, including two layers of suede which line the notes compartment.

In the photos here you’ll also see whole the outshell layer of leather wraps into the inner panels, such that the edges consist of grain leather. We’ll look into this wrap-around construction a little later.

When loaded and compressed, the thickest part of the wallet measures almost 2 cm.

To sum up, the Misaka is an old school billfold wallet in design – larger and more rugged than most modern billfolds, and has a greater holding capacity which rivals that of mid-wallets. Similar to Voyej’s other leather goods, the Misaka has a work-wear aesthetic for sure, but overall the details are more considered and refined – we’ll look into these details shortly.

Leather

For the new Superlative models, Voyej has partnered with Tochigi Leather Company to source hand-glazed, saddle leather directly from Japan. These leathers come in different colours, but to test the patina potential, I have ordered the natural version of this saddle leather.

This is a vegetable tanned leather with a hand-grade finish. It has a very supple hand-feel, good density and a moderate amount of grain growth. The shine is spectacular, I’m guessing because of the hand-glazing process.

The thickness of this Tochigi saddle leather is approximately 1.2 mm thick, or 3 oz.

The suppleness of the leather is worth another mention, with a rather slippery feel against the finger tips, almost like it has been moisturized! See the dense and thick sinew stitching doesn’t even cause the leather to pucker, such is the liquid temper of this saddle leather. This is a much nicer finish compared with un-glazed saddle leather from the same tannery which I have tried in the past – those were a bit dry for my liking, with an inferior hand-feel.

The leather has a slightly darker than raw colour, but under cold light it appears incredibly pale nevertheless. This is a predominately red toned leather, giving rise to a pinkish white colour under cold lighting and a gentle caramel shade in direct sunlight.

The grain growth is quite good, but not as in depth as saddle leather from Shonan, so I will call it a medium amount of growth. Still, this is much more grain definition than the vast majority of vegetable tanned leathers on the market. The hand glazing process likely has flattened down the grain too…but it will be interesting to see how the grain evolves with wear.

The finish on the grain is consistent, and yet it doesn’t have the plastic uniformity of corrected leathers. This saddle leather is very natural, rugged and visually pleasing.

The cowhide suede used for the lining is a deep wine red, being easy on the eye and very comfortable to touch. It provides tonal & textural contrast to the shiny, smooth saddle leather on the rest of the wallet.

The suede lining is approximately 0.6 mm thick, or 1.5 oz.

This Misaka wallet certainly features some very nice leathers, being a level above what is utilized for Voyej’s standard edition wallets.

Construction

The Superlative series of goods involve finer workmanship compared with Voyej’s regular offerings, with an overall change in aesthetics that could be understood by examining the smaller details.

Firstly, the wrap around design gives the bifold a different silhouette compared with more traditionally constructed wallets – the Misaka is more rounded and smooth in overall appearance, despite being rectangular in shape.

There is also an increased neatness in the overall appearance when the wallet is folded or when viewed from the sides.

However, this streamlined appearance along the edges and the outshell is only made possible by introducing a layer of complexity to the appearance of the inner panels, where you see the exposed edges of the outshell running around the wallet, bunching around the corners.

It must be said, however, that this design has been executed very well – the evenness of the edges and the stitching, especially around the inner corners, are as neat as I can expect for this type of construct. Having the a single exposed edge sheltered on the inside of the wallet is a much more rugged construct compared with having multiple exposed edges on the sides – no matter how the edges are burnished or coated, it will not be as strong or age as gracefully as the actual grain side of the leather.

All the exposed edges have been burnished by what seems like a light gum compound – which helps to clean up what is a relatively busy internal design.

The thread utilised is Voyej’s signature artificial sinew – this is a thicker, tendon-coloured plastic thread meant to mimic deer and cow tendon threads. Voyej has stepped up the sinew game with the Superlative series however, and increased the stitching density – now at 7 SPI – bringing refinement to what had been a very rugged style of stitch.

The hand-stitching is superbly done, more impressive considering the caliber of the sinew thread; I think this is Voyej’s finest stitch-work yet!

The stitches are evenly spaced, nicely tensioned and perfectly crosses over the various panel layers. The leather has not puckered or been cut-through at any point. This is very nice saddle-stitch sewing.

The top edges of the card slots have been creased too, which adds an additional layer of finesse but also complexity to the appearance of this wallet. The edge creasing has been done very well.

Finally, the cutting and panel matching on the Misaka is pretty good too – there are very minor unevenness here and there, none of which are noticeable unless you review wallets a lot, haha!

Thoughts

This Misaka wallet – part of the new Superlative series – is Voyej’s most refined billfold wallet yet, having received upgrades in both materials and craftsmanship. The design is a vintage-style, highly functional billfold, the sizing and aesthetics of which work very well with denim and workwear in general.

The Tochigi hand-glazed saddle leather specially introduced for the Superlative series is a very nice leather indeed, the most refined natural vegetable tanned leather that Voyej has utilised so far, I think. This saddle leather is nicely tanned, and has a finish that is more natural and pleasing compared with most European and American vegetable tanned leathers (bridles and bark-tanned leathers aside.) The colour tone is warm and easy on the eye – there’s no awkwardness despite the leather being relatively pale under cold light. I think this leather has fantastic patina potential in terms of colour and shine.

The craftsmanship has taken a step forward also, achieving more refinement with the denser sinew stitching. With the Misaka wallet, Voyej has definitely moved into the top end of ‘workshop-grade’ leather crafting.

At $175 USD, the Misaka rivals other higher-end workshop products in construction and detailing, and surpasses most with the quality of the materials. Certainly, I will say that in terms of craftsmanship and leather grade, Voyej has equaled the similarly priced Japanese workshop brands such as Kawatako and Red Moon – in fact, Voyej’s work on this Misaka is at a much higher level compared with similarly priced Japanese products, which would be machine stitched, unlined and sometimes even lack edge burnishing. There is certainly a lot of value in the Superlative series, even if it is a bit more expensive compared to Voyej’s regular products, as I think the upgrade in leather alone is well worth the difference in costs.

All in all? Highly recommended!

I am very glad to see Voyej pushing the boundaries of their work and achieving the next level of workmanship with this new Superlative series; Voyej is certainly rising to the challenge, meeting and sometimes exceeding many standards set by the Japanese crafts which inspired its foundation. This is a great billfold, and I’m certainly looking forward to my journey with this Misaka wallet.  🙂

You can order your own Misaka wallet or check out the rest of the Superlative series line-up at Voyej!