August 26, 2015

Paper to Product: Edition 221

The length of this week’s paper to product might seem daunting but there are a lot of technical pieces to be explained, and that is a good thing. Durability is in the details, and there are lot of details to consider when building product that meet the rigorous quality standards that motorcyclists demand in their gear.

The inspiration for this collection is a vintage café racer jacket from 1973. While the jacket was labeled and sold by Walter Dyer, a small menswear shop outside of Boston, our research led us to a manufacturer named Golden Bear, a famed San Francisco outwear company that operates in a building a block away from Taylor Stitch. A small but wonderful world, right?

When we brought the jacket to Golden Bear, Schirley’s face lit up and she was instantly able to recall the exact shop in Boston in was made for 40+ years ago. After then disappearing for 15 minutes, she confirmed that the original leather used was still being made by the tannery and she also had the original hard paper pattern in hand. You can see our new sample of the jacket and the original jacket of the same leather here in a previous post. As you can tell, the jacket breaks in like an old baseball glove and you can take it from us that it also fits like a glove too. Damn near perfection, we made a few minor changes to reinforce the jacket in places it wore the hardest. The updates to the jacket include triangular reinforcements to the welted side pockets, a zig-zag stitched doubled faced interior storm flap and we substituted for a stronger zipper tape. Everything else on the jacket stayed the same. There are two zip breast pockets, two welted side pockets and a leather trimmed interior wallet pocket. The jacket features a 3” zig-zag reinforced collar with hidden brass snap down closure (to keep the collar from flapping in your face), zippered sleeve cuffs and dual rear shoulder vents for increased mobility. It is fully lined with a sharp charcoal colored insulated diamond quilting.

The real beauty of this jacket is in the whiskey tanned full grain cowhide leather. The owner of the original jacket parted with damn near his life savings at the time because it was impossible to find brown café racer jackets. Still today you see a lot of dark brown leather jackets and even more black leather jackets, and the handsome shade of whiskey brown used here still makes for an incredibly unique and handsome jacket that has the power of parting you from your life savings.

The 8” moto boot was specially designed and manufactured with Rancourt & Co, a third generation family run business that has specialized in making high quality shoes and boots in the state of Maine since 1967. In designing a boot with Kyle Rancourt specifically for motorcyclists, we started with the toe construction because this area of the boot endures greater wear and tear during shifting. Normally on a cap toe boot a single piece of leather joins at the toe and is then pulled over the vamp. This boot has an extra layer of leather over the entire toe that is joined with a triple stitch. In total there are four layers to the toe: the lining leather, a moldable plastic toe box, the vamp leather and the cap leather.

The other major design feature of this boot is the Vibram 430 inset mini-lug sole. The sole carries the normal benefits of a Vibram sole – oil resistance, anti-slip and waterproof – but with smaller traction lugs that keep a lower profile with all the needed grip. Rancourt attaches the soles with their signature Blake construction which allows the boots to be resoled again and again. The Vibram soles have a leather midsole and leather heel stack and are finished with a beaded leather storm welt that keeps moisture and dirt out of the last. The boots are a full grain steerhide and finished with six antique brass eyelets, two speed hooks and waxed nylon laces.

Technicalities aside, the whiskey steer hide is a beautiful leather that will darken and age well over time but is also soft and comfortable from the outset and doesn’t require a long break in period.

To finish the collection, we designed a double layer belt that is every bit as well built as the jacket and boot. The belt features two layers of the same whiskey tanned steerhide stitched on top of a strip of 10 oz. veg tanned steer hide.