Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Shop Review - Rivet And Hide

Exciting news for London denim-heads, purveyors of rare raw denim, Rivet And Hide, opened a retail space last week.

Rivet And Hide
Junior & Danny outside the new premises.
Founded online in 2012, partners Danny and Junior then progressed to an open-by-appointment-only workshop in Parsons Green. In that short time they've built a reputation as one the best places in England for Japanese denim.

Danny has always said if the support was there that R&H would take the next step and open a shop. It’s indicative of the growing popularity of the English denim scene that he’s done so.

The idea took hold in December of last year and it’s taken a few months of hard graft to come to fruition.

Rivet And Hide
Reclaimed wood interior.
R&H pride themselves on stocking only small batch and rare denim that meets their exacting standards. From The Flat Head, Steel Feather to Pure Blue Japan, they have it.

So, it’s not surprising that the same almost obsessive attention to detail that goes in the best Japanese denim went in to fixtures and fittings for the shop. As Danny says,

“We used reclaimed timber and beach groyne wood for the interior. Everything in the store is hand made to reflect the clothes that I sell. Even the hangers have been made by hand and bespoke for Rivet & Hide.”

Rivet And Hide
Custom made rails and hangers! (Holding up lots of premium Japanese denim.)
It doesn’t stop there. The hanging rails have been hand forged by a friend of Danny’s and the chains it hangs from are antique London railings.

My personal favourite are the leather chairs – modelled on the pilot’s seat from a Lancaster bomber, complete with riveted metal panels - great to lounge in whilst friends wriggle in and out of stiff selvedge denim. (Or for hung-over fashion journalists to recover in…)

Still there is the vintage 43200G Union Special – ready for Junior to attend to all your custom hemming needs. Rivet And Hide are one of the few places in London to offer this service.

Rivet And Hide

It might have been hard work but I get the sense that the guys have had fun with furnishing the shop. Yes it reflects what they sell, but it’s also quirkily London. The move from Parsons Green to villagy Fitzrovia is a great step forward for Rivet And Hide.

You can check out what they have at Better yet, why not pop in to the shop at 5 Windmill Street to take a look?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

London Street Food - Malay Fusion At Sambal Shiok

Some things in London remain constant - bad weather, bad transport and traffic to name a few, but as an expat I'm always pleasantly surprised by what has changed each time I come back.

Parts of Soho are still pretty seedy but it's come on a long way in the last few years. One gentrification indicator are the new street food stalls - Street Food Union, on Rupert Street.

I bow to no man in my love of Malay food - the legacy of a prolonged spell working there a few years ago.
So, on a stroll past Rupert Street a while back I immediately plumbed for Shambal Shiok. Run by former lawyer, Mandy Yin, she specialises in Malay fusion cuisine.

(All images courtesy of Sambal Shiok.)

A Labour Of Love

The stall is very much a labour of love for Mandy. For a corporate lawyer in the City to re-trade as a stall holder might seem odd, but as Mandy says,
 "I have always loved food (especially Malaysian, having been born there) and cooking, and have also been an avid follower of the street-food movement and the London restaurant scene for years. I wanted to share my passion for Malaysian food with the world and thought that it was high time that Malaysian flavours got some well-deserved exposure in London."
Double Chicken Satay Burger, a.k.a "The Leaning Tower of Satay."

The Leaning Tower of Satay

Mandy has deliberately stayed away of the traditional curry & rice format, opting instead for brioche buns - roti bread is hugely popular in Malaysia so as Mandy says,
"Streetfood seemed to be the natural home for my hot buns, following in the steps of the rich hawker scene in Malaysia. I am proud to be part of the vibrant London street-food movement which is going from strength to strength."
I opted for the beef rendang burger, and it was some of the nicest I've tried outside of Sabah. The hint of coconut and lemongrass went really well with the richness of Aberdeen Angus beef, the sambal chilli sauce giving just the right amount of bite. There's also a satay chicken that I've yet to try and a vegetarian satay version. (There's a gag crying out to be made here about hot buns, but I'm a better man than that..)

Beef Rendang. In a bun. That's a culinary win for me...
It's always a boost to morale to see someone forsaking a corporate wage in favour of pursuing what they love. Perhaps more important for us hungry (and slightly hungover) chaps is the quality of the food - and Mandy's is fantastic. I'll definitely be back for seconds soon.

Mandy rotates the stall around several markets in London and also does event catering. To find out where she'll be check her website here.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Red Wing Heritage 8113 Iron Ranger Roughout Boots

Heritage fashion aficionados will be familiar with venerable American boot makers Red Wing. (So much so that they're almost a compulsory part of the denim-head uniform!)

Founded in 1905 by Charles Beckman, and named after its Minnesota hometown, the company has been producing robust work boots and shoes ever since.

Red Wing Heritage 8113 Iron Ranger Boots

The two world wars saw them supplying boots to the military and post WWII, much like denim, Red Wing boots made the jump from utility wear, becoming popular with Levi's clad baby-boomers.

Today this tradition continues with Red Wing Heritage. Established in 2008 the collection draws inspiration from the company's considerable history.

Each boot is hand sewn at the factory using high quality ox leather form a local tannery, S.B Foot Tanning Company (owned by Red Wing since the 1980s.)

Red Wing Heritage 8113 Iron Ranger Boots

The 8113 is a tough boot inspired by the original miners, nicknamed "iron rangers", that wore them. They sport classic 6” styling with a double layer leather, toe cap, a leather heel pocket and a cork sole Featuring premium Hawthorne Muleskinner leather, chrome hardware, speed hooks, Goodyear welt construction and robust triple stitching on the seams.

Red Wing Heritage 8113 Iron Ranger Boots
Beautiful triple stitching.

We might not work in such difficult conditions today, but the original work boots worn into the iron mines had to be as tough. The Iron Ranger boots were built with a double layer of leather over the toe to provide the miners an extra measure of safety. The heel pocket, a boot feature designed to provide extra support, was moved to the outside of the boot. This design change eliminated a seam, and provided a smooth and comfortable one-piece surface on the inside of the boot.

Roughout leather is used in shoes with the outer, smooth grain side and inner, fluffed, fresh sides reversed. 
"When used in outdoor environments ordinary shoes with the grain side outside tend to sustain damage to the leather surface. Roughout keeps the grain side undamaged even in harsh conditions. Roughout represents an efficient way of using leather with functional features equivalent, if not superior, to those of regular leather."

Red Wing has been making use of roughout leather since the late 1950s.

Red Wing Heritage 8113 Iron Ranger Boots
Roughouts - so the smooth side of the hide is on the inside.
I picked my pair up last week so they're pretty box fresh. I've been warned that Red Wings take a bit of breaking in and after a few days of wear I can attest to that - though I'm assured they do soften up.

The vintage pair I saw in the London Red Wing store looked great, if a little too battered! There seems to be a trend amongst some in the heritage fashion crowd to deliberately age or abuse their boots.

No me. At £239 a pop I'm going to look after them as I would any pair of good boots. They'll be worn hard, as boots like this should be, but that's no reason to neglect them.

With thanks to the Red Wing store in London for all their help. If you fancy a pair you can pop in to the shop in Newburgh Street, London or check out their website.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Pike Brothers 1942 Zip Deck Jacket

1942 Zip Deck Jacket

Pike Brothers have extended their range quite a bit for Spring / Summer ’14, that said the label are staying true to their work wear / military roots with the recent release of the 1942 Zip Deck Jacket.

The original mid-war jackets were widely worn until gradually superseded by the later N1 and Deck Hook closure jackets.

1942 Zip Deck Jacket

The DNA of its Army cousin, the Tanker jacket, is clear to see in the knit cuffs, neck and waist-band. The main aesthetic difference between the two are the pockets, with the US Navy version sporting D-shaped patch pockets.

There is no white U.S.N stencilling on the back - that came later in WWII when identifying Navy personal during amphibious landings became problematic.

Vintage Talon zip detail
Zip and inner pocket detail
As you’d expect from Pike Brothers a lot of effort has been expended on replicating the originals in every detail - everything from the correct spec densely woven jungle cloth, wool lining to vintage Talon zippers are present and correct.

Also there is the special membrane interlining - making the jackets just as wind and water resistant as the originals.

1942 Zip Deck Jacket - stand up collar detail

Pike Brothers founder Fabian Jedlitschka has been collecting old USN and Army jackets for a while, and it’s something he’s clearly passionate about. The first jacket Pike made was a B10 flight jacket and obviously the N1 is something of a staple. As Fabian says, “I like the styles and think for us it is vital to have the 1940s army/navy jackets as a basic line.” 

With none of us in any danger of having to square up to the Imperial Japanese Navy any time soon deck jackets may now be more of a fashion item, but it’s to Pike Brothers’ credit that they still make them for use as they were intended - to be worn hard as a utility garment.

1942 Zip Deck Jacket - correct spec jungle cloth
Beautiful correct spec jungle cloth
Excitingly two more jackets are waiting in the wings, “In July we will be releasing the B15 and then for fall we will have the Deck Hook Jacket.” You can never have enough jackets, right?

Great news for deck jacket fans out there. Meanwhile you can check out the 1942 Zip Deck Jacket here.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

A Very British Jean: Workshop Denim

Universal Works - Workshop Denim
Understated branding throughout the range
The growing popularity of selvedge denim is leading more and more fashion brands to launch their own lines.
A chance meeting during Copenhagen Fashion Week turned me on to Universal Works, a small independent English label specialising in simple workwear inspired garments.
Workshop Denim Bakers Chore Coat
The Bakers Chore Coat
Founded in 2008 by David Keyte, the company has its roots in the Midlands - the old heart of the British textile industry. Universal Works’ guiding principle is to produce garments that “reflect the personality of the owner; real honest menswear that defies the trends and whims of fashion.”
Their new selvedge denim collection, Workshop Denim, launched this week, perfectly exemplifies this approach. The garments are all UK made from 13 oz denim woven on vintage shuttle looms in Portugal.
The two fits of jean, a regular and a slim, and the two jackets, a Bakers Chore Coat and Trucker, all sport a very deliberate lack of branding. Rivets and buttons are completely plain and there’s an inside “ghost patch” - only the stitching is visible on the outer waist line.
Trucker Jacket cuff detail
The Trucker Jacket
The relaxed regular fit is Universal Works’ take on the classic 5 pocket jean, featuring a mid rise and a slightly tapered leg. The slim fit has a lower rise but a straighter leg.
The Trucker Jacket, double-pleated with a single buttoned breast pocket, has more in common with the earlier Levi's 506 style, though looks to be cut slightly longer for a more contemporary fit.
regular front
The Bakers Chore Coat is beautifully simple, with three large patch pockets and a rise-and-fall collar. I’m not convinced about the breast pocket selvedge detailing though, but that’s purely personal preference.
However, if, like me, you dislike brands that plaster their clothes with labels and arcs then the otherwise strictly simple aesthetic of Workshop Denim will appeal to you. (I can’t help thinking of the protagonist in the William Gibson novel Pattern Recognition - obsessively having the branding ground off the buttons of her jeans by a locksmith.)
bakers + trucker
This is a typically understated English approach. For Universal Works’ first venture in to the world of selvedge denim David wanted to achieve something distinctly different to the established Japanese and American labels. The results are unashamedly European jeans that take in to account “the needs of contemporary man, keeping them unwashed so you can make them your own. We have kept our jeans humble, modest and honest - kinda like us."
coin pocket detail
Pocket detailing and plain dished rivets.
The jeans are priced at £135 a pair, so not overly expensive for decent selvedge denim, and entirely in line with David’s wish that his clothes should remain affordable - universal indeed.
It’s really positive to see a British brand do this and I look forward to seeing how Workshop Denim will develop in the future. Definitely one to watch.
If you’re interested check out Workshop Denim here or pop in to their London flagship store here.