Gavin Smith

Vintage Looms Used By Trophy Clothing

In this niche market people place huge importance on certain words and phrases when looking for a new purchase. I know this to be true because I do it, and I spend a lot of time talking with other people who do it also. These words and phrases may vary slightly from person to person, but the main ones crop up time after time, words like "selvedge", loopwheeled" and "chainstitch", phrases like "made in Japan", "artisan crafted" and "vintage design", but do these phrases mean that the product is better? Are there any other things to look out for? What really matters?

Materials

Elhaus 20oz LHT Hand Woven Denim

It sounds obvious because it is obvious, what you spend your money on should be made from good quality materials, things made from bad quality materials break, tear and wear out quicker. Jeans made from good quality cotton, which is woven into denim on good quality looms will last longer and age better than poor quality, mass produced denim. Simple and obvious, but the same applies to tee's made from good quality cotton, and boots, wallets and belts made from better hides.

Increasingly I find that people are placing more emphasis on "how" an item is made, and less on "what" the item is made from, I feel that this is a mistake as the best manufacturing techniques in the world will not made a good item from bad materials.

How is it made?

Elhaus Hand Loomed Heavy Denim

This is where the words and phrases really start to cloud people's views of what is important, is a loopwheeled tee really better than a none loopwheeled tee? Well, with a loop wheel construction you avoid having a potential weak point of side seams, but if a side seam is done correctly it ceases to become a weak point, in fact a well done side seam on a good quality cotton tee is more likely to be stronger than a loopwheeled tee made from lesser quality cotton, the same applies to the modern tube body tees.

Handmade items are as well made as the skill level of the person making them, and you pay the premium for the skills of the maker. Obviously someone's skills are not as good then people will not buy their products, but the knowledge that someone has poured their skills into an item from design to finishing is worth paying a premium for in my opinion.

Where is it made?

Trophy Clothing, Proudly Made In Japan

Traditional thinking amongst retailers and customers tells us that the best quality items are made in Japan the USA, and in some cases the UK (bespoke shoes and moleskin goods mainly). This thinking is more than likely still correct in the main, although it is perhaps not quite as correct as it was in years gone by.

There is no denying that improvements in travel and communication have made the world a much smaller place, this has resulted in manufacturers all over the world having far easier access to the finest quality materials, and also it has given retailers and customers far easier access and awareness of skills which they would previously not been aware of in all likelihood. In areas of Asia other than Japan, where this has been happening for a long time, we are starting to see skills and materials coming together more frequently to make some amazing products, and challenge previously held ideals of what should be made where, and by who.

I do not think we are too far away from a situation where there is an appreciation that quality items can be made anywhere, and the people involved in the making are far more important than where it is made.

What is important really?

Trophy Striped Chambray Chain Stitch Run Off

Well, I guess that depends on what is important to you as the customer. Some people value the vintage manufacturing techniques, some people hold high value in the knowledge that the craftsman has made their item with their own hands, some place importance upon materials above all else.

The honest answer is that is depends what is important to you as a consumer, and I can only say what I value on a personal level. I like to know that a person has had input on the item from design to manufacture, I like to know that it has been made in good conditions by people who are proud of their craft and skills, and I like to know that the materials used are some of the best available. We are all intimately familiar with the old saying "buy it cheap, buy it twice", we all saw the tragic events in Bangladesh which cost over 1000 people their lives and increasingly there is a requirement for people to live ethically and responsibly. Personally I would not like to be associated with brands who do not feel this way, at NoKipple we sum this up very simply.

  • Good People Make Good Things
  • Good things endure
  • Relationships matter