3rd quarter leathers update!

Hey!

Lots of review lately, and many more coming up. Today, though, I want to summarize the updates for the various pieces acquired over the past few months. Photo heavy – here we go~

 

First up is an old friend which I’ve recently reconditioned – the Apocrypha mid-wallet by Ray Lansburg back in 2011. I gave the CXL horsehide outer and Wicket & Craig bridle leather inner a clean and condition:

 

Next up is another older wallet. A very special billfold made by Scott at Don’t Mourn, Organize! a couple of years ago, featuring Horween shell cordovan from the 1960’s! Despite being unused up until now, half a century of storage had taken a toll on the shell surface, with scratches and splotches being easily discernible:

Nothing a little elbow crease and know-how can’t fix though. I start by cleaning and burnishing with hardwood slick:

Finishing by oiling, buffing and gentle polishing. Not too bad hey? Almost as good as brand new:

 

Another wallet made by Scott was my next restoration project. This one is a mid-wallet made out of Sedgwick’s English bridle leather. Much less work to do up this one:

The shine on this leather is very intense naturally.

 

The super belt by Bill at Clintonville Leather is next. Not a whole lot of work with this belt, given it is relatively new. A quick brush and light waxes at some points along the edges were all that was required. I did polish up the hardware though – some interesting patina for sure:

 

John Faler’s billfold is next. No care required at this point really, but I gave the entire wallet another light coat of Montana Pitch Blend oil anyway:

The colour remains very pleasing, and the shine continues to intensify. My experience with this wallet has somewhat improved my opinion of North American vegetable tanned leathers – quick and industrial, yeah, the grain having little definition compared with old school vegetable tannages, but the colour, tone and shine can be incredibly nice if treated right.

 

Up next is a fairly new piece, the scaled card wallet made by Rocky over at mill handmade. Lots of different veg tannages here – very interesting little piece. To my surprise, the Aussie bark-tanned kangaroo leather remains fairly pale!

 

The Japanese Wallet also made by Rocky continues to impress with the reactivity of the Shonan saddle leather. Rocky’s interpretation of Red Moon’s riders’ wallets is a highlight for me this year:

 

The original is up next…well, the upgraded version of the original. Here’s the riders’ wallet from Pailot River via Denimio:

The leather on this is pretty incredible, with reactivity and shine that is just as good as Shonan’s saddle leather. Incidentally, this leather is also from Himeji, the same city in which Shonan tannery is located…possibly this leather is also made by Shonan? I can’t say for sure.

When I first started collecting leathers, a Red Moon riders’ wallet had been a grail piece for me. This Pailot River version is from the same workshop, made to a higher standard.

The branding is beginning to crack, with the texture similar to crackles in ceramic glazes. Super interesting!

 

This Niwa Leathers coaster needed a good brush, but is holding up very well. A present from Rocky after his trip to Japan and visit at Niwa’s atelier. I’m hoping to own one of Niwa’s wallets at some point – his stuff is not work-wear style at all, but the crafting is incredible.

 

The next piece is not leather, but copper! The very rugged and smooth Japanese key hook from Ryan at Supplied West:

I sand and polish this key hook down periodically, so that the surface is ever so smooth and the oxidation is quite layered!

 

My Voyej Chahin IV is moving a little slower compared with how the Chahin I had progressed a few years back. The red tone evolution is pleasing indeed:

 

Finally, a few very new pieces – not much patina or aging to speak of just yet, but have a look at some photos anyway:

The Aomushi bracelet from Wild Frontier Goods is being worn pretty much every day; I love this little thing! The fresh indigo colour has maybe darkened somewhat? Will keep you updated about this non-fermented indigo dyed piece. Mike and Chie from Wild Frontier Goods has something special in the works too, a little project in which I’ve played a small part. Watch this space!

The horsehide Travel Wallet from Hides and Stitches is proving to be a rugged companion. Another a quick layer of Montana Pitch Blend balm, water bounces off the surface!

The Frankie card wallet from Rocky is almost brand new, having less than a week’s use. Already though, the vegetable tanned leathers on the outer are evolving. It’s a very nifty and well thought out wallet.

 

Well, that’s it for now, thanks for viewing.  🙂

I’ve got another exciting belt review coming up in a couple of days, please stay tuned!

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mill handmade – Frankie wallet review

I’ve got a very interesting piece of leather craft to show you today. It’s something a little different from the usual hefty billfolds and work-style mid-wallets that you’ve seen on this blog.

Rocky over at mill handmade has been designing new wallets and updating existing wallet models at a pretty prodigious rate over the past year, not only optimising the layouts and styling, but also expanding on the range of stocked leathers as well as further refining the hand-crafting involved. Every time I catch up with him, he’s working on something new or refining an old design.

This latest wallet is called the ‘Frankie‘ – the largest card wallet available from mill handmade at this time, and it represents a refinement of the concepts behind the development of the Elliot card wallet, which you’ve see on this blog already.

Without too much ado, let’s check out the details of this very intriguing card wallet!

Design

The basic version of the Frankie wallet – which you can view at Rocky’s website – is, simplistically speaking, a double sided version of the Elliot wallet ver. 2.

mill handmade is all about customisation of course, and for this particular wallet Rocky has made a few modifications for me which are not found on the basic Frankie wallet, including: layered spine with arcuates, thicker leathers for more rugged use, and a doubling of inner pockets from two to four.

My particular iteration of the Frankie wallet is 10.6 cm wide and 16.2 cm tall. When folded, the height is approximately halved to 7.45 cm, accounting for the curvature of the spine.

When packed with some cards and bills, the thickness comes in at 1.6 cm compressed.

All in all, this is very much still a card wallet sized carrier, being a bit smaller than a traditional billfold. Rocky has attempted to inject a rugged dose of workwear flavor into my Frankie wallet by using slightly thicker leathers and adding the arcuates to the spine. This is a classy wallet nevertheless; the regular version of the Frankie wallet would be a great match with a tailored suit jacket.

On the inside there are four card pockets on my Frankie wallet, compared with the usual two pockets. The outer most pockets (top pocket on both sides) act as quick access card slots, whilst the bottom pockets can hold cards and other miscellaneous items.

I’ve gone rogue and used the bottom pockets as a bill holder. 🙂

Leather

Brown saddle leather from Shonan Leathers feature as the accent layer on the spine, forming the arcuates on both sides of the outshell. This is one of the very best vegetable tanned leathers in the world: top grade raw hides are imported from the USA, and tanned using wooden equipment in African Mimosa tannin pits for approximately 2 to 3 months. The raw saddle leather is then drum dyed and glazed.

This saddle leather features very nice grain growth, and should be – according to my own experience with the natural version of this leather – an incredible performer in terms of aging and patina development down the track.

The Dollaro leather from Conceria Walpier (the guys who make Buttero) is the main character here. This is a vegetable tanned leather with a printed grain, a finer version of artificially grained leathers such as football leathers and zug leathers. Dollaro has a higher resistance to scratching compared with most other vegetable tanned leathers, and is slightly stiff, with a somewhat compressed handfeel. It is quite luxurious in the hand, and gives the entire wallet a very textured look.

Rocky has subtly included a dual toned configuration with this wallet. If you look closely, you’ll see one side of the wallet features the Dollaro in golden brown colour, and the other side has it in chocolate colour.

Chevre goatskin in the fauve colour from the French tannery Alran has been used for the inner lining, providing an interesting contrast to the texture of the Dollaro leathers on either side. This goatskin is renown for its durability and depth of texture, being finely grained yet resistant to scratches and water.

Chevre goatskin is not going to produce the same degree of patina as the other leathers featured on this Frankie wallet, but it has higher degrees of resistances and keeps much cleaner than veg tanned leathers. It will perform very well as a liner.

Construction

Rocky has blended bespoke crafting details into this workwear caliber wallet.

The hand saddle-stitch of waxed linen threading is nicely done – fairly precise with good regularity, at a higher level compared with the very first Elliot wallet from mill handmade last year.

The 8 SPI stitching is dense and well threaded, sitting nicely on top of both the Shonan and Dollaro leathers. I like the contrast between the threading and the leathers.

The stitching runs neatly parallel with the edges and creasing.

The edge creasing is precise also, being sufficiently deep to add visual detail to the textured Dollaro leathers. The crease work ties in the edge work with the leathers & threads quite well.

Plated solid brass Prym snap fasteners make another welcomed appearance here. These fasteners are very smooth, with the right tension to balance an easy opening with a secure closure.

The edge work here is nicely done, with four layers of leather aligned and hand-burnished with wax. No fluff or odd protrusions, smooth to the touch.

The clear wax burnish allows the visualization of the Chevre lining leather as well. Pretty cool!

Viewing from the edge you’ll also notice how the threads sit nicely on top of the level – not so aggressively pulled as to cut into the leather, and with enough tension that the threads don’t jut out too much.

Thoughts

The modified Frankie wallet is my fourth wallet from mill handmade in the past 12 months, and it’s been great to see the progressive increase in detailing and skill displayed in the successive wallets. Certainly with this wallet Rocky’s ticked quite a few boxes for me with regards to quality of construction and detailing.

This wallet not only showcases some bespoke crafting details, but also the degree of customisation available through getting your leather goods made by Rocky. The flexibility of customisation is, of course, very important when it comes to fine leathers. More so than a belt or shoe or watch, I do think that the wallet a man chooses to carry is more of a reflection of himself than any garment or accessory – it goes with us everywhere, it is not an outward display to be seen by others, and it is an item which receives active/interactive use. By virtue of providing choices in not only materials but also design, Rocky offers a big incentive for choosing mill handmade for your next wallet project. I’m pretty chuffed with the extra-rugged build, the increased number of pockets and the arcuate accent on my custom Frankie.

As far as value for money, not only is the quality of construct increasing consistently, but also in terms of detailing and material selection, Rocky is truly turning out some top end, luxury builds. Simply consider that this card wallet features Dollaro panels, Alran Chevre lining and Shonan saddle leather accent! There are not many makers who will stock or even offer such world class leathers, not to mention Rocky offer his crafts are a fair price – the basic versions of the Frankie wallet, excepting the shell cordovan options, are priced at only $70 AUD. The value proposition here is pretty spectacular.

All in all, I’m intrigued and pleased by this Frankie wallet. A little different from what I’d usually choose for my main wallet, but I’m getting much enjoyment from using the Frankie wallet. Further to that, I must say that Rocky’s enthusiasm and passion when it comes to this hobby is really second to none, and he is at the same time very approachable and responsive too. Rocky’s constantly exploring interesting leathers, new designs and being thoughtful about this hobby.

If you like Rocky’s style of work, which blends vintage detailing with minimalist bespoke styling, there’s no questioning that he’s the man to make your next wallet. Check him out here!

Wild Frontier Goods – Aomushi bracelet

Mike & Chie Falkner at Wild Frontier Goods have been on my Instagram feed for some time, mainly known to me through a shared love of Japanese denim as well as Mike’s occasional work with Japanese denim brands in English language PR. You’ve probably seen Mike in the Social Fabric video recently, where he introduces the program host to various aspect of Japan’s denim industry.

Though Mike & Chie’s love for the hobby is well known – with Mike even moving to Japan to get closer to the Japanese denim industry – what I didn’t know was that their @wildfrontiergoods IG handle was actually also the name of their workshop, where they create craft goods with traditional Japanese materials and methods. Everything from hand-dyed goods to leathercrafts, Wild Frontier Goods produces pieces slowly, authentically and mostly for themselves and selected friends – there’s not even a website or catalogue!

I was very intrigued by the bracelet that Mike was wearing in a recent video, so I asked him about it, not knowing Mike had created it himself. So, here it is, all the way from Mike & Chie of Wild Frontier Goods, Japan: the Aomushi bracelet!

 

Materials

Fresh indigo dyeing is main focus of this bracelet, something I’ve not seen before and makes this bracelet totally awesome!

All of the indigo dyed garments and craft goods commercially available are dyed with fermented indigo, which gives a deeper blue colour compared with the use of unfermented, fresh indigo leaves.

As you can see in the photos here, the colour is a shade between blue and green, with various tones of yellow being produced depending on lighting. This is a really gentle and natural tone compared with the indigo colour that is found on blue denim.

The use of fresh indigo dye is very rarely encountered, due to the fact that it is entirely uneconomical. A dye bath can only be prepared when indigo leaves are abundant and mature, and the resulting dye can only be used once! This means that in order to achieve a thorough dye job, you need to prepare multiple batches of dye using fresh leaves over multiple days!

This crisp ‘Ao’ colour you see on the Japanese cedar beads was achieved only after several days of dyeing. I can’t imagine this being commercially profitable, but the unique colour does make this bracelet super cool!

The beads themselves were turned using Japanese cedar by one of Mike’s friends. The resulting interplay between the cedar grain and fresh natural indigo is pretty incredible, with the beads looking very organic.

The rawhide leather lace is also dyed using fresh natural indigo. The colour tends toward grey rather than yellow in tone on the leather lace.

The small, handmade glass bead was also locally made in Tokyo and dyed using indigo. The play of colours on the glass surface is very interesting indeed, and gives the bracelet a bit of pep!

 

Construction & Styling

As you might have already guessed, Mike styled the Aomushi bracelet to resemble a cute caterpillar. ‘Ao’ () translates to ‘blue’, where ‘mushi’ refers to ‘bug’, and so this is a ‘blue bug’ bracelet.

The lead bead features a smiley face and also functions as a clasp. It is a bit bigger than the other beads at 12 mm in diameter.

The rest of the bracelet consist of 8 mm cedar beads one after the other, strung together by the dyed rawhide lacing. The leather lacing has no elasticity or give, so sizing this bracelet correctly is important.

The beads have all been nicely turned and deeply dyed – with a fresh indigo colour that has totally penetrated the cedar wood. The beads are not waxed or polished, so while relatively smooth they do have a nice texture to them.

The major sections of the bracelet are separated by knots in the leather lace. The last section of the bracelet is the tail of the bug, and features a single, small glass bead.

Have I mentioned how beautiful the glass bead looks?

 

Thoughts

This Aomushi bracelet from Wild Frontier Goods really is a special little piece.

I have never seen (or actually heard of) hand-dyeing using fresh indigo leaves before, and I’m very glad to have experienced it on this bracelet. The combination of Japanese cedar and fresh natural indigo is super cool, resulting in beads that look very much alive…and happy. The colour is a happy one, very warm and gentle, like the smiley face here.

The Aomushi bracelet also changes colour tone depending on lighting and viewing angle, so it’s never boring to look at. Quite therapeutic too, as I can do a bit of mindfulness with it during the workday.  🙂

The bracelet is deceptively simple in appearance, as the amount of work that went into the dyeing of the materials, in particular, is simply insane.  Also, Mike & Chie have actually grown the indigo plants themselves, so the quantity of dye is severely limited by season and how many plants they can grow at home.

I really can’t see these bracelets being a financially profitable venture, but Wild Frontier Goods is all about the passion for our indigo hobby. Mike has been making crafts for 15 years, but still has no website and doesn’t really showcase his crafts on their Instagram either, preferring to quietly make & dye things that bring them joy and share them with other people who have a genuine interest in the hobbies of denim, leather and indigo.

Would I recommend the Aomushi bracelet?

Totally! But, it’s not actually available at this time as Mike has run out of beads and indigo after making bracelets for themselves and a couple more for friends. Like I said, very limited production given everything is done by hand and the methods are time consuming.

But fear not! Wild Frontier Goods and I have something very interesting in the works…if this Aomushi bracelet or fresh indigo dyeing method catches your attention, please follow me (@indigoshrimp) and Wild Frontier Goods (@wildfrontiergoods) to keep in touch with the exciting project coming up!!!

 

Minamishima – nigiri time!

Went to a local Japanese restaurant recently – Minamishima – very usual as it has a three hat rating, the highest possible, as an Asian restaurant here in Australia.

Anyway, this ain’t denim or leather, but enjoy the seafood!

That’s tuna jaw if you’re wondering.

The tuna belly roll was amazing~

The engawa was so good, I had it twice!

Hides and Stitches – Field Note Travel Wallet review

Welcome back to the blog!

The leathercraft being reviewed today comes all the way from Grand Rapids in the USA. This Travel Wallet has been crafted by Dan at Hides and Stitches, and is a little different from the usual wallets you’ve seen on this blog – it’s also a note cover too!

Dan first began crafting leather goods in 2013, and shortly after launched the Hides and Stitches workshop with his wife Tiffany. Hides and Stitches specializes in small to medium sized carry goods made with American leathers, with a focus also on sustainability in crafting. Their wallets looked particularly beautiful when I first came across their crafts on Instagram earlier this year. Being impressed by the combination of precise craftsmanship and rugged Americana, I was keen to see Dan’s work in person.

This Field Notes Travel Wallet has been made with Horween’s Vintage horsehide in natural colour, though various other Horween tannages and leather combos are available also. Let’s have a closer look!

 

Design

The Travel Wallet was designed with, well, travelling in mind. It primarily functions as either a notepad cover or a passport holder. At 15.2 cm tall by 10.0 cm wide, it is slightly wider than most mid-wallets.

The wallet is small enough for me to comfortably operate with one hand. By virtue of it being a A6 note pad cover, the size of this wallet is just right for scribbling on the go.

With a standard A6 note pad inserted it is approximately 1 cm thick. The entire wallet is relatively light in terms of being held in the hand or carried in the pocket, given that it has less panels compared with the average mid-wallet.

The right sided compartment was design to hold either a note pad (such as the A6 Field Note you see here) or a passport.

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The left sided panels contain two curved card slots and a large compartment which can be used to carry paper currency and receipts. The outer shell and larger base panels also feature curved corners.

Due to the generous sizing, each of the card slots can hold a stack of 4 or 5 cards if required.

 

Leather 

The leather featured here is a special front quarter horsehide from Horween – the Vintage horsehide in natural colour.

This is a vegetable tanned horse leather, which has been stuffed with fats after the tanning process and tumbled. I measured this horsehide at around 3.5 oz.

The vegetable tannage creates the defined grain that you see here. The stuffing process gives the leather a pull-up, extra longevity and some water resistance.

Finally the tumbling finish condenses the grain, giving the surface an irregular, slightly variegated finish that is reminiscent of vegetable tanned horsehide jackets that have been worn for a few years.

This shrunken and stuffed horsehide is much denser than the usual cow leather, and is fairly scratch & water resistant. The vegetable tannage means that this leather should age more gracefully compared with Horween’s other types of horsehides which are re-tanned/Chromexcel-ed.

The oily and tumbled nature of this horsehide also means it has a soft temper – this wallet does not need any breaking in.

The backside has a furry/fleshy finish.

 

Construction

This travel wallet is purely hand-made: the leather panels are hand-cut, hand-burnished and hand-stitched.

The panel cutting and layering here is fairly precise. When closed, the edges of the wallet matches evenly and there are no protrusions.

The hand-stitch is done with tonal Ritza 25 ‘Tiger’ thread, at 5 SPI. This very thick Tiger thread is a braided and waxed polyester thread, noted for its strength and durability – a great match with the rugged horsehide.

The stitches lay fairly flat against the leather grain despite the thickness of the threading. The tension of the stitch is also nice and even, with the stitches crossing over panels very precisely. Overall the stitch work is remarkably neat despite the ruggedness of the materials involved, all the stitches being very similar in length (even at the corners) and regularly space, testament to Dan’s thoughtful and careful placement of holes.

It would appear the edges here have been either gently creased or pressed. The hand-burnish here is fairly well done; there is the occasional fluff along the edge here and there, but overall the finish is fairly smooth. It’s not the mirror-polish, perfectly smooth finish that you see on vegetable tanned carving leathers, but considering the irregular fibre structure and soft temper of the Vintage horsehide, I’d rate the edge burnish here as pretty good. (Most Horween horsehides and CXL leathers are quite difficult to burnish!)

The maker’s mark is neatly stamped into the left lower corner on the inside.

 

Thoughts

All in all, I’m impressed by my first wallet from Hides and Stitches.

Firstly, the rugged design and aesthetics of this Travel Wallet is right up my alley, matching nicely with the rest of my wardrobe (mostly workwear and Japanese denim). The tonal stitching and the unadorned outer shell place the emphasis on the texture and colour of the leather. The aesthetics here, with the use of Horween’s vintage horsehide and thick Tiger threading, is certainly rugged and unmistakably Americana.

I would also imagine that, with the use of alternate leathers (e.g. shell cordovan) and different thread sizes or stitch density, this wallet can certainly be further dressed up if workwear is not your cup of tea.

Secondly, the design itself, especially the inner panels, is certainly eye-catching. Yes, its function as a notepad/passport cover dictates that this wallet will be one big rectangle, but Dan has managed to include both subtle and dramatic curves into the paneling. Making a big wallet look nice is much harder than, say, designing a reasonable billfold layout, the task being especially difficult if the wallet is not only long but also wide. The fact that the inner paneling on this Field Note Travel Wallet pulls together nicely, aesthetically speaking, is quite a feat in itself.

The use of Horween’s Vintage series horsehide is a nice touch too. Pure vegetable tanned horsehides from Horween such as Vintage or Essex are rare to come by, and they’re certainly not cheap leathers! This tumbled and stuffed horsehide is a nice departure from the usual shells and glazed tooling leathers, much more rugged in terms of scratch and water resistances – a beautiful and practical leather for travelling for sure.

Finally, at $80 USD for most leather selections, this Travel Wallet from Hides and Stitches is very good value. Again, I emphasize that this wallet is entirely hand-made. Whilst rugged and relatively minimalist in design, no shortcuts were taken here – everything from leather cutting to saddle-stitching has been completed by hand.

Indeed, the level of hand-crafting and detailing here is more than I would expect for a sub-$100 wallet (which would usually be machine stitched and lacking details). The leather cutting and awl work are remarkably regular, the saddle-stitch executed neatly too.

One of the major points of assessment for me, when it comes to wallets, is looking at how neatly the stitches crossover the different panel layers. As you can see in the photo below, Dan has accomplished these crossings without flaw! Despite the ruggedness of this Travel Wallet, the actual construction is very precise. I was not surprised to learn during the writing of this review that Dan has an interest in mathematics, as it is well reflected by the neatness and cleanliness of his work.

Overall?

This Travel Wallet from Hides and Stitches is a well made and practical wallet for travelling, with a rugged aesthetic and distinct look. The quality of the leather and the calibre of hand-crafting exceed my expectations for a wallet in the <$100 price range. The Americana flavour is strong on this piece too, which means that it matches very well with denim and other workwear.

I would certainly recommend Dan’s work!

To see more of Dan and Tiffany’s crafting, visit the Hides and Stitches webshop.

Samurai Jeans – SJ42CP Heavy Chino Pants review

Overview

If you have any interest in reproduction workwear or Japanese denim, you’d have heard of Samurai Jeans – hardcore denim fans will all be familiar with Samurai’s famous leather patch depicting the very short duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro. A relatively new brand as far as hardcore Japanese denim makers go, Samurai Jeans was created in 1997 by Toru Nogami, aiming to push the boundaries of reproduction workwear and introduce Japanese elements into Americana jeans making.

I’ve always thought of Samurai Jeans as quirky and distinctly Japanese, a true hobbyist brand, and to be honest I find Samurai’s products to be more interesting compared with its Osaka 5 predecessors. By the mid-2000’s, Samurai Jeans had arrived on the Western raw denim scene, being stocked by BiG and sponsoring the first jeans-wearing competition on Superfuture. I remember purchasing my first pair, the 710, in 2009 and following their bi-annual releases of special edition jeans with keen interest. No other Japanese denim maker was as prodigious or as adventurous as Samurai Jeans when it comes to creating outrageous denim and taking inspiration from their own Japanese roots.

Today, Samurai Jeans has a dozen retailers outside Japan, and yet I have not worn a pair of Samurai’s since 2011…

Well, my Samurai drought is now over!

Thanks to the folks at Denimio, I’ve got my hands on a pair of Samurai Jeans SJ42CP Heavy Chino Pants in khaki.

Let’s take a look.

 

Fit

The SJ42CP Heavy Chino Pants is a relatively new addition to Samurai’s line-up, and the fit and pattern is different to their standard denim models. These pants are patterned after early century military officer pants and are made with a very heavy version of the chino cloth.

The Chino Pant is made with unsanforised cloth, but only available as once-washed. The industrial wash has eliminated any further shrinkage in these pants, which takes the guess work out of sizing. Refer to Denimio for the size chart; I would recommend sizing one up.

The rise is medium to high, with the back-rise relatively shorter compared with typical vintage officer pants or reproduction jeans.

There is generous room in the seat and thighs, but the fitting is not loose.

The taper from the knee down is significant, and the resulting silhouette is quite different from vintage military chinos.

By military reproduction standards, this Chino Pant would be considered a slim-tapered model, though it is comparatively roomier than the slim-tapered jeans most brands are producing nowadays.

To be honest, this pair of chinos fits me better than any of Samurai’s denim jeans, haha!

The inseam length is quite long (YAY!), and allows me to double cuff these pants even when fully shrunk. For reference I’m 185 cm tall.

These Chino Pants proved to be very comfortable even during its first wear. There’s no nut cracking or thigh chafing at all.

In the photos above and below, I’m wearing my coin pouch in the left pocket and my wallet in the right pocket – notice how the back pockets are well sized, comfortably holding work-wear calibre leather goods without much distortion in shape!

Overall, this pair of chinos has a fairly modern fit. It is not ‘slim’ at all, but also does not have the baggy appearance of most reproduction chino pants. I believe these Heavy Chino Pants will fit most people quite well.

 

Fabric

The main character in our story is, of course, the heavy weight chino cloth. It is made with 100% cotton, woven slowly on a shuttle loom, coming in at an astounding 15 oz unsanforised.

Sure, 15 oz would be considered medium weight for denim……but, as far as chino cloth goes, the majority I’ve come across all weigh in between 9 oz to 12 oz.

The cloth has been sulfur-dyed a caramel colour. Officially this colour is named by Samurai Jeans as ‘khaki’, but it’s much closer to brown duck in tone. Blue and black versions of this cloth are also available for these Chino Pants this season (’17 AW).

The weave is dense, moderately slubby and very textural!

Over the years, I’ve never been particularly interested in chino cloth because what had been available were all so… boring. The few chino pants in my closet were made by John Lofgren (he did a great forest green pair a few years back) and Left Field (technically not chinos, as they were made with duck fabrics.) I have to say, Samurai’s heavy cloth really is a world-beater when it comes to chinos.

The selvedge features Samurai’s signature silver lamé – this was known as the ‘katana selvedge’ back in the day.

Samurai’s fabric design philosophy has always been focused on thickness of cloth, texture in the hand and the potential for various types of serious fading.

Even this ‘khaki’ chino cloth is no exception – it is advertised to be able to fade well! I will keep you posted about this.

The handfeel is quite pronounced, though it is not rough on the skin at all, even after the first full day of wear. Run your fingers over the fabric and you’ll know it is pretty special. There’s a lot of ridging and verticality to its texture.

The pockets, waist band and fly have all been backed with Samurai’s signature bleached cotton twill cloth with interwoven beige coloured Jacquard symbols. Among the symbols you’ll find Samurai’s logo, a shuriken and the Mon (emblem) they use for the brand. This pocket cloth is sturdy yet soft against the skin.

 

Construct

Samurai Jeans advertises these Chino Pants as being sewn by true sewing artisans. Examining these jeans inside and out, I have no doubts as to the quality and workmanship of the sewing workshop which is producing these pants.

A sturdy, light-brown coloured thread is the main threading used throughout, mainly as a single needle stitch. Double row stitching feature along the pocket seams and the belt loops.

Whether it’s the lock-stitch or the button hole construct, the stitching is regular, precise and very dense. The stitch-work here is honestly better than even many reproduction Japanese jeans.

Double chain-stitching is utilised in the seat and along the inseams – again, very nicely constructed!

This Chino Pants feature the standard five belt loops, with the third (middle) loop being off centre. Impressively the top end of the belt loops are actually tucked into the waist band itself, between the outer chino fabric and the inner white twill lining.

Bar-tacking is concisely used to reinforce all the pockets.

The back pockets and the coin pocket are all welted. The construction here is quite impeccable, despite the appearance of some wrinkling due to the industrial washing process.

Of interest, the coin pocket isn’t made with the white twill pocket cloth, but is instead made with the chino fabric. The pocket is single stitched and then lock-stitched on top – it ain’t breaking any time soon!

The fly and crotch areas are sewn very neatly, and again reinforced with bar-tacking.

The chain-stitched inseam leads down to a lock-stitched hem, which is typical of military chino pants. Again, the sewing is very precise despite many layers of this heavy, dense chino cloth.

 

Hardware & Peripherals

Samurai has decided to deck out these Heavy Chino Pants with peripheral materials from their denim jeans!

The 5-button fly features Samurai’s signature metal donut buttons.

These buttons are high quality and fully customised, featuring the Chinese character (kanji) of 侍, Japanese pine flowers and Samurai Jean’s emblem. 侍 has the literal meaning of ‘to serve’, and in Japanese society refers to the (now-abolished) Samurai social class.

The metal buttons have been antiqued, though the back studs remains polished. The back studs, again, are fully customised.

Samurai’s signature pocket cloth makes an extended and welcomed appearance on these chino pants, used for all the large pockets as well as for lining the waist band and fly.

Samurai Jeans has always made sure to include many little details on their pants, and this pair is no exception. An Union-ticket style woven tag is sewn onto the waist band with a product number.

Another tag, featuring the trademark, is sewn onto the right-sided back pocket.

Chino pants in general might be a bit boring, but Samurai’s version is certainly far from dull! The detailing on these Chino Pants is on par with Samurai’s denim jeans.

 

Opinions

All in all, I’m very happy with this pair of SJ42CP Heavy Chino Pants from Samurai Jeans, and I’m glad that Denimio had recommended these for my daily work at the hospital.

Truth be told, this pair of chinos has scored higher in my review process than many of the Japanese jeans I’ve examined over the past few years.

One very important factor that greatly contributes to the utility of these pants, from my personal perspective, is that I can actually wear them to work. Being patterned after military officer pants, this pair of chinos is certainly more dressy than jeans and is significantly more work-place friendly.

However, the rugged selvedge chino cloth and Samurai’s expert sewing means that these pants remain, truly, workwear!

These are jeans, but not jeans, haha~

The chino fabric, as I mentioned earlier in this review, is a real winner. How it will age remains to be seen, but as far as first impressions go this has to be, in my opinion, the nicest chino cloth I’ve come across.

Yes, I know this is not a reproduction military chino cloth, but that’s not the point here: Samurai Jeans has always been about pushing the boundaries of workwear reproduction and infusing Japanese design elements into their garments, philosophies which are well represented by this pair of Heavy Chino Pants.

The fit is nice and modern – slimming but not tight, roomy but not loose. I feel it works well for my body shape, and I would gather it would look good on most body types depending on how you size your pair. This is not a vintage reproduction fit though, so if you’re a strict military or workwear reproduction type of hobbyist, this pair (and most of Samurai’s garments) won’t be for you.

At USD $223 with free express shipping worldwide, Denimio is the best shop to purchase Samurai’s Chino Pants. In my opinion, the value proposition here is fantastic – a bit more expensive than chinos you could purchase at the local mall, but we’re talking about one of the very best chinos in existence here!

Recommended?   Absolutely.

Unless your budget is below $200, you really must try these Heavy Chino Pants. I’m actually quite tempted to get the other colours too!

Check out the SJ42CP Chinos at Denimio’s webstore.

 

mill handmade – Buttero watch strap

Hey!

Apologies for the lack of posts this week – I’ve been trying to plan the blog schedule for the next few months, and it looks like I’ll have a lot more leather content for you coming up, aside from the regular workwear reviews. A few new brands and craftsmen I’ll like to introduce to you, so please stay tuned!

A few photos today of my new watch strap, which I’d commissioned from Rocky at mill handmade:

As much as I like my Bell & Ross BR123, the original natural-coloured strap wasn’t very good quality, so I asked Rocky to fix me up with a minimalist vegetable tanned strap to complement to body and dial.

Though the tan coloured Buttero leather has been featured on this blog previously, this strap is made with the natural version. You might remember the Buttero is Conceria Walpier’s top level full grained leather, having an interesting, slippery/glazed surface that is smoother and, to a degree, less reactive than most vegetable tanned leathers.

The strap is 5 oz, unlined, as per my request. Hand-stitched with black linen threading. There is a gentle taper on both bands, with the long band finishing with a rounded tip.

The holes are oval shaped to accommodate the original Bell & Ross buckle, which has a wide prong.

All edges are fully wax burnished, of course, including on the keepers.

All in all, nice and clean.

Of course, this strap is somewhat basic compared with Rocky’s usual creased/padded/stitched offerings which pair great with more classic looking watches… but with a PVD cockpit watch? I reckon this utilitarian strap works well.

Rocky’s a bit of a watch nerd himself, and has a keen eye in terms of matching threads and leathers to timepieces – whether you have an Apple watch or a mechanical heirloom, look into getting a matching strap made by Rocky via his website!