Yesterday, we took a look at the Zodiac Sea Wolf, a modern take on an iconic dive watch from the ’50s. Today’s edition of Pairs Well With follows a similar concept; we’re matching the Sea Wolf with gear also inspired by historical counterparts, be it in terms of design, manufacturing, or, in some cases, both.
There is no denying that today’s modus operandi of mass production often leaves a lot left to be desired. Simply put, most consumer goods are not built to last. This is especially true in the apparel industry, where fast fashion and exploitative offshore production reign supreme. There are some companies, however, that break past this mold. Instead, they focus on producing–either domestically or abroad–painstakingly made goods in limited quantities out of the best materials possible, often harkening back to older designs and production methods. These are the brands chosen for today’s PWW.
Our friends over at Epaulet are known for putting out some great wares. With their fantastic in-house line and great collaborations with brands like Alden and Gitman, it’s easy to see how one could fill their closet entirely with goods from the Brooklyn-based haberdasher.
Epaulet’s Los Angeles-made tee shirts are some of the best I’ve come across. They’re Loopwheeled, which refers to the way the tees are constructed, a method that goes back to the early 20th century. Loopwheeling is done on machines that knit in a circle, with layers of cotton stacked into a giant cylinder. That cylinder forms the body of the shirt, which means that there won’t be any side seams since it’s one continuous piece of fabric. Loopwheeling is a thoroughly slow process, with the machines performing approximately 24 rotations per minute. This is so that the machine does not place tension on the yarn, which in turn results in an overall softer and denser cloth.
Epaulet, never afraid of color, has some great options to choose from, especially for the summer.
Levi’s is one of the most recognized denim brands in the world, and the 501 is undoubtedly their most iconic style. Levi’s Vintage Clothing, or LVC, is a division of the company dedicated to reproducing garments from its archives, with a focus on matching both the look and quality of their historical counterparts.
In the ’50s, Levi Strauss and Co. was starting to branch out nationally. In 1954, in an effort to reach as wide a demographic as possible, Levi’s tweaked the design of one of their most beloved products–the 501 jean–and released the 501Z. They updated the silhouette and added a zipper fly (hence, the “Z”). Today, LVC faithfully reproduces that style.
But the version sold today is not just an aesthetic reproduction. LVC also relies on older manufacturing processes, namely the use of vintage shuttle looms, to achieve the same quality the brand put out in the ’50s before switching to modern projectile looms and adopting other mass manufacturing methods. Shuttle looms produce a type of fabric (denim in this case) called selvage, which refers to the finished edge of the fabric which prevents it from unraveling or fraying prematurely. But beyond that basic definition, selvage is often, though not always, an indicator of a quality fabric, since vintage shuttle looms generally produce a more robust and tighter cloth. LVC sources their selvage denim from Cone Cotton Mills White Oak factory, a renowned mill in North Carolina, and the jeans are American-made.
There are a slew of independent leather craftspeople online–some good, and many not so good. But one of the best I’ve encountered is a one-man operation out of Minneapolis, Minnesota: Hollows Leather. Proprietor Nicholas Hollows has been honing his craft since 2008, producing some of the finest leather goods I have ever handled. From the material to the level of finishing, everything is top notch. And his goods are truly made to last and will develop a wonderful patina over time. He has since collaborated with a number of great heritage brands, among them Rogue Territory and Archival Clothing.
The Natural Chromexcel belt is exemplary of the fine work produced by the brand. Utilizing 10oz Horween Chromexcel, the belt features hand stitching, beveled and waxed edges, and teardrop holes. The brass garrison buckles are sourced from Japan, and come in two styles, single or double pronged. The belt is entirely hand-assembled, and made-to-order.
Duluth Pack is another Minnesota-based company, known primarily for their handcrafted hunting and outdoor gear that they’ve continuously produced in their Duluth factory since 1882. The Roll-Top Scout (one of many options offered by the brand) is a great commuter bag, and the option of rolling the bag up or down allows you to accommodate different loads at any given time. The waxed 15oz canvas is built to last, and the cloth and leather trimming will age beautifully over time. Duluth Packs backs up all their products with an exceptional lifetime warranty.
One of the best things about Epaulet’s in-house brand is their line of luxury sneakers, specifically their take on the classic tennis trainer first made popular in the ’60s. Epaulet’s version takes the iconic silhouette and upgrades the materials, opting for full-grain leather from Italy’s renowned Gruppo Mastrotto tannery. The shoes also feature an Italian-made Margom sole (used by many brands selling sneakers for nearly twice the price), which is attached to the uppers first by cement, and later reinforced with a 360° external stitch. Epaulet manufactures this line in a small Portuguese factory known for producing sneakers.
The tennis trainer comes in a number of colorways, with many different leather (European shell cordovan is on the way!) and sole options. At $245, they’re certainly not cheap, but the quality of both the materials and construction ensures that they will last much longer than a typical pair of Chuck Taylors. In fact, since the sneakers are entirely leather-lined, you might want to get yourself a set of shoe trees for them.