Leathercraft · Watches

Slowly but surely

So an update on my new little hobby: leathercrafting. Making watch straps, as I’ve discovered is not as easy as it looks. There are tight tolerances and a few millimetres off here or there makes for an unco-looking strap! Slowly but surely I am making progress.

My biggest challenge so far has been my choice of leather. I bought a piece of black chromexcel offcut from eBay and I thought “sweet!”. But it turned out to be too thick for watch straps.

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Footwear · Musings

Rethinking Black Shoes

Ask me a year ago (hell, a season ago) and I would have said that you don’t really need black shoes. Ok, maybe one pair for weddings/funerals/job interviews that you dust off occasionally, but the rest of the time you can wear brown. Black is just too stuffy and formal. Brown shows that you are more casual, cooler, more stylish.

But lately I’ve been coming back around. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been looking at too many Japanese denim blogs and Insta accounts or my current obsession with Pacific Northwest bootmakers lately (more on that later) or just too many guys wear brown derbies these days. It’s not that my opinion has changed about sleek, formal looking black dress shoes – I still think black oxfords are still too formal for my day-to-day wear. It’s the casual black footwear that’s got my attention lately.  Continue reading “Rethinking Black Shoes”

Cloth and Hide · Leathercraft · Watches

Strappin’ novice

So I began my leathercrafting with making some watch straps which is probably not the best thing to start off with. Watch straps have extremely low tolerances and tight gaps and are small fiddly things that you see up close. The tiniest bit of not straight stitching is immediately evident. And the tiniest bit of not straight cutting results in a buckle not fitting or not fitting between the lugs. Anyway it’s too late now, so if I can make straps I should be able to make anything?

First up, the tools. I started off with some basic tools from Birdsall Leather: pricking irons, grooving tool, needles, waxed linen thread, hole punches, and a skiving blade. I had other basics like a rubber mallet and metal ruler at home. Some cheapo wood and chopping boards finished off my beginners kit.

I had some kangaroo leather scraps which I bought from Birdsall leather so my first strap was a double layered strap which was stitched along the length. This is actually the hardest kind of strap to make so I had jumped right into the deep end. I started off by making a template out of some breakfast cereal box cardboard.

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Cloth and Hide · Musings

Clothes to survive dadhood 

Being a dad has made me appreciate tough clothes. Unless I’m at work, my clothes have to be functional and survive the rigors of being smeared with food or faecal matter, wiped with snot, scratched, scraped, and vomitted on. They have to be occasionally Napisan’d and scrubbed. It’s a hard balancing act, being a dad and trying to be stylish.

I’ve embraced the dadstyle hard. My wife says I’ve gone “full Chevy Chase”. I’ve got the whole camp mocs, Hawaiian shirt, ragged old five panel cap thing going. It’s a nice mixture of interesting and rugged that’s been surviving trial by monster toddler so far. It’s also not loungey streetwear that just about every guy is wearing these days. Camp mocs are also a great casual alternative to sneakers when wearing shorts.

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Cloth and Hide

Jeans ain’t jeans

I’ve started getting into a bit of raw denim lately. For those of you who haven’t been steeping in hours of Reddit/rawdenim, raw denim is denim that still has all of its indigo dye. It hasn’t been washed and it isn’t faded. Because of this, it is stiffer than most jeans you’ll find at the shops. But after a period of wear, it will develop a fade pattern that is unique to the wearer.

The world of raw denim is a peculiar one and once you do the deep dive as I have, you’ll realise there’s a lot of ritual, tradition, hearsay, myths, and controversy on the internet. Do you soak or not before wearing for the first time? How do you soak? What are the benefits of chainstitching hems? Should you wear your jeans into the ocean??

I started off with a pair of Levi’s Vintage Clothing 501xx 1947. LVC is a fantastic line in the Levis universe which recreates iconic items of clothing from their long history. And the 501xx 1947 is, you guessed it, from 1947.

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Cloth and Hide · Musings

Amazon Launch and the Australia Tax

Seems like everyone waiting with bated breath for Amazon to launch in the land of Oz have had their shopping heaven dreams crushed. Newsflash: Amazon is not the retailer-Armageddon. Not yet anyway. Not only is the range of products on Amazon Australia much much smaller than the US counterpart, but the prices are pretty much what they normally are in Australia (read: rubbish).

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Cloth and Hide · Musings

Ethics in fashion

With the annual orgy that is Black Friday sales just around the corner and Christmas and boxing day sales looming, it pays to think about the ethics of fashion when you are diving into those deep deep discounts. Sure we all love a good bargain, and with these fast fashion brands springing up everywhere, the prices are lower than ever before. But who is really paying the price?

I watched a documentary recently where Ricky Yates went around the world looking at where sable furs and croc skins come from. Some of the ‘farms’ where they keep these animals are absolutely horrendous. The scale of operations in China are so huge now that real fur can be bought at a lower price than synthetic furs. Live plucking of down has also come under the spotlight recently. Continue reading “Ethics in fashion”

Musings

The immigrant’s son

I’ve been listening to Blamo! recently (which is an awesome podcast btw) on my work commutes and many of the interviewees mention their style influences come from their dads. My story is a little different and my dad definitely does not have a sense of style!

Arriving in Sydney from China as a little immigrant kid, I grew up on the streets of Cabramatta in the 90s. This was during the violent, drug rampant era where fights broke out on the streets, junkies were literally shooting up in the stairwell of the flat where we lived, and John Newman was assassinated. My primary school friends were all little hoodlums and the coolest shit back then were Nike hats, baggy sweats and massive baggy pants. Naturally we appropriated gang culture and gangsta rap tropes. For some reason the school principal at the time thought it wise not to enforce school uniform rules so me and my friends would turn up to school in our homie G attire. The only rule was we had to take our caps off during class. 

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Footwear

1 year on: Yuketen Maine Guide Ox FO 

I picked up a pair of Yuketen Maine Guide Ox FO by accident about a year ago. I have always loved handsewn moccasin styles from Maine, and Yuketen’s slightly offbeat sensibilities add an extra level of interest for me. That intersection of style, fashion and old school craftsmanship is rarely seen in the shoe-making world. So when this barely used pair appeared on eBay, I put in a low bid, not really expecting to win, but win I did and ended up with what would become one of my favourite pairs of shoes.

The Maine Guide Ox is a low version of Yuketen’s signature Maine Guide boot, Yuki Matsuda’s interpretation of the hunting boot. Pairing true moccasin construction with thick boot soles makes for a comfy pair of boots, and my low top versions are no different.

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