Just in time for summer, Mary Rose MacKinnon of L.L. Bean sent me this video featuring some great footage of their Boat & Tote in production. Pick yours up today. Once I get my ducks in a row, I’ll be picking up the Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Hunter’s Bag; a portion of the purchase of one of these bags will be donated to the MDIFW.
Monthly Archives: April 2009
Lost Boys sits on a quiet street steps from the heart of Georgetown’s hectic M Street. A row house which formerly played host to a law firm has been converted by D.C. native Kelly Muccio into a smartly-outfitted menswear boutique.
“I can’t tell you the hours I spent in Home Depot figuring out the plumbing for the garment racks,” Ms. Muccio told me during a recent visit. Lining the racks are well-curated offerings from brands like Band of Outsiders, Rogan, Shipley & Halmos, and Steven Alan; I was galvanized.
While the selections err on the side of conservative, Ms. Muccio’s been able to inject some style into our nation’s capitol. Lately, the store has received as much attention for the clothes as it has for the fact Kelly and crew serve beer, liquor, and sparkling water from Italy.
Muccio likes to combine the rough and the delicate, like flowers and chains. Even the store’s name nods to both the whimsical characters of J.M. Barrie’s most famous novel and Joel Schumacher’s late eighties rough and tumble vampire flick.
Lost Boys offers personal shopping as well. Ms. Muccio and her staff can help you prepare for a hot date or provide a full style upgrade. Around the shop hang framed photos of real Washingtonians post-visit to “The Style Bar.”
If you’re in the neighborhood, definitely stop by Lost Boys. Crush a brew and pick up some high quality denim while you’re at it.
- Brown Cromexcel Leather
- Nickle Eyelets
- 38″ Red Rawhide Laces
- Red Brick Camp Sole
- Natural Handsewing
- Full Deerskin Lining
Lined “after eyelets are inserted so deerskin comes up behind lacing and eyelets don’t touch Max’s instep on the inside!”
For more see Flickr.
A few years ago, fed up with losing expensive frames to the bottom of some lake or river every summer, I sought out a pair of affordable aviators worn by, well, aviators. At $90, Randolph Engineering’s stylish frames are hands down the best sunglasses money can buy. They offer both mineral glass and polycarbonate lenses, and they are all at least 98% UV protective. I’ve dropped the Sportsmans (pictured, above) in a Maine snowbank, while crossing Park Avenue, and on the gravel path at the National Mall, and they are still in tact, a scratch here or there – nothing more. And while, yes, I lost a pair of the Aviators last summer at the bottom of Lake Skenonto, prior to their death, RE sent me two other sizes to test as the ones ordered were two sizes too large for my narrow melon. They have a great warranty, an excellent customer service department, and they’re made in the United States of America.
The verdict is still out on the Sportsmans. I am not usually a fan of the brow bar, but leaving them out in the sun this weekend, I began to appreciate an element of its function: sear-prevention. With frames like the Concorde, the potential for the metal to warm up and burn the skin is higher than with a pair like the Sportsmans. I will most likely wear these every day this summer, that is until the Lady of the Lake gets her hands on my REs.
Michael Bastian is a fan.
As is Nick of ATG.
As is Ryan of h(y)r collective.
As is Cory of Valet.
As is James of Secret Forts.
As are the folks at Selectism.
Nuff said? No? Ok, one more:
As is Jonathan of Material Interest.
Monday night, alongside Mr. Capps of D&D, I had the opportunity to see the latest in a series of excellent documentaries featuring the band, WILCO. Ashes of American Flags, the band’s first concert film, follows them as they trounce their way around the southeastern United States on tour in 2008. Among the many moments that stood out were drummer Glenn Kotche and guitarist Nels Cline icing themselves after a gig, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone’s spot-on South-side Chicago accent introducing backing band “The Total Pros,” and bandleader Jeff Tweedy’s Nudie suits.
Mr. Cohn, on the left, made this gold lamé suit for Elvis Presley’s LP 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.
While working for Mr. Cohn, his protégé Manuel Cuevas designed the suits for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Johnny Cash’s black suits, the roses and skeletons logo for The Grateful Dead, and Mick Jagger’s inflated lips pillows which inspired John Pasche’s tongue and lips design for The Rolling Stones.
Arguably the most famous Nudie suit, Gram Parsons wore this on the cover of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Gilded Palace of Sin. This is the suit most-often referenced as quintessentially Nudie: high on pyrotechnics and a big ol’ middle finger, but crafted with a beautiful drape and the sharpest lines, not a stitch was out of place.The fundamentals of Mr. Tweedy’s suit, while more PC and more classically tailored, reference those of Mr. Parsons’.
At minute 1:53 in this video of WILCO singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley Field, Mr. Tweedy talks about the Nudie suit, and at minute 4:20 he explains why he’s a fan of The St. Louis Cardinals.
See the movie. It’s screening in several North American cities over the next few weeks. In celebration of Record Store Day, they’re releasing the DVD on Saturday the 18th at independent stores nationwide, and it will be available everywhere on the 28th.
“They sound really good live. I was shocked,” a friend less familiar with the band said as we were leaving. As a fan of hyperbole, I reminded him, “Yeah, they’re the best band in America.”
“Maybe we can get away with the old ones after all.”
In middle school, while other boys dreamt of becoming the next Michael Jordan or Ozzie Smith, I wanted to be Bob Costas. I admired sportscasters like Jim McKay, Marv Albert, and Jack Buck for their ability to spin a trivial sporting event into a life-altering moment with drama tantamount to Shakespeare. I also admired the ones who didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Affectionately known as Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker with his garish jackets, his Wrestlemania appearance, and of course his short-lived acting career, takes the cake. A Milwaukee institution, he was honored by minor league hockey team The Admirals with “Bob Uecker Night” reviving a jersey once seen in a team commercial featuring Mr. Uecker.
The Baseball Almanac has a comprehensive listing of his classic quotes.12
Pulling off I-95, the town of Lewiston hits my windshield with a thud. Cruising their main strip, I passed a chicken shack, a Burger King, and a slew of empty buildings. My directions read, “Look for ‘Maine Thread.’” Even with eyes peeled, I nearly passed the small sign fashioned of white plywood and black vinyl letters no bigger than my hand.
Thinking I’d reached my destination, I sauntered through the doors at Maine Thread, past walls covered floor to ceiling in spools upon spools of the stuff, organized by color and gauge. Finally, I reached a small metal desk, where a small wooden man sat in a big ball cap embroidered with an eagle and an American flag.
“Excuse me? Are these the Quoddy offices?”
“No – no. What you gonna do….”
Rising, he walked me past the spools and outside, pointing to an arched brick alleyway.
Random House defines the moccasin as “a heelless shoe made entirely of soft leather, as deerskin, with the sole brought up and attached to a piece of u-shaped leather on top of the foot, worn originally by the American Indians.”Wood tools, like this rounded wedge Kevin uses to press the leather into the last, are rare.A stitch gauge measurement of five assures they are properly spaced.
“They’re Kwah-dih,” Alex, the kindly English sutler, informed me upon discovering a grizzly boot and boat shoe for sale at Freemans Sporting Club a few years ago. I’d mispronounced the name in asking the make. I remember saying the leather felt waxy, and Alex, not content to let my observation stand, replied, “Yes, they’re buttery.” Supple, sturdy, well-oiled, well-cushioned, all stand to describe a Quoddy Trail moccasin upon first interaction. When held, when properly examined the precise balance of heft and delicacy emanates. Their handmade attributes, every stitch, every stretch mark, every skived edge beg to be admired. They define remarkable.
This is the new handsewing workshop for Quoddy Trail Moccasin which until recently was based in a small storefront on the main drag. That isn’t to say the building is new. Quite the contrary, Kevin and Kirsten Shorey, owners of Quoddy Trail, recently acquired two floors of the defunct Maine Moccasin factory, along with relics of the factory’s past: antique sewing machines, old wooden lasts, tools, and leather scraps aplenty. The powder blue paint job was covered with dust and dirt; the floor beneath me could have just as easily been beach property, albeit beach property beset by a nagging nail infestation. As I entered the darkly lit room where Quoddy stitches all their shoes, I watched four men hunched over tanned, pressed leather, as they spun gold. Each of them moved around a mounted shoe as though it were a seven-layer cake receiving seven layers of icing. Stitch by stitch crafting moccasins with their bare hands – bare, but for the grip tape wrapped around their knuckles.
“The Shorey family has been making moccasins for generations, beginning with Harry Smith Shorey, a hand-sewer for L.L. Bean in the early 1900s,” this from their charming, out-dated website.
Kevin Shorey, the well-spoken, well-shod, bear of a man runs the day-to-day operations from his office in Perry. He introduced me to some of the skilled craftsmen who form these shoes and gave me a bit of background.
Several years ago, fed up with his job at a big-time newspaper, he moved home to Maine and alongside Kirsten, started making moccasins in his family’s barn. Yuki Matsuda, of Meg Company, got wind of the Shorey’s shoe-making operation,. Yuki, Kevin, and Kirsten formed Yu-Ke-Ten to target the Japanese market. As business grew, Yuki’s desire to expand the brand’s offerings beyond footwear led him to take full control of Yuketen, as Kevin and Kirsten concentrated on Quoddy.
Cordovan Leather, Gum Sole, Cross-stitch Toe, Quoddy for Albam Another view of the Albam moc alongside a refurbished Ring Boot
This was eleven years ago. Since that time, Quoddy has been quietly growing a loyal following around the world, and rightly so. The company offers handmade shoes, made the old-fashioned way, “the hard way,” as Kevin likes to say. He was eager to express just how customizable their offerings are, walking me through several custom jobs they’ve acquired: everyone from Rogues Gallery to J. L. Powell to South Willard; Sid Mashburn to Freemans Sporting Club; Camilla Staerk to 3sixteen. The newly formed “Quoddy for…” line has begun to pick up steam. “People are willing to invest in the name, Quoddy,” says Shorey.
Today he makes the four hour drive to the stitching plant in Lewiston roughly once a week. When I met him, he wore a zippered fleece, khaki pants, and a pair of Quoddy Trail bluchers with a solid tread Vibram sole.
“Not bad,” I said, admiring the yellow Vibram logo.
“Yeah, these won’t wear out too quickly.” Kevin chuckled.
Not a Vibram, still a crepe sole will last a long time. Beyond them are two memory foam insoles which are wedged between the two pieces of leather in shoes like the double-bottom ring boot above.
With a one-piece vamp – the front, sides, and bottom of the shoe – swaddling the entire foot, full leather sock lining, and a heel pad, I can guarantee they won’t wear out too quickly. Using leathers from the tanneries of Horween in Chicago, S.B. Foot in Minnesota, and Irving from right there in Maine, everything is handmade. All the major cutting and prepping of the leathers occurs at their shop in Perry. The handsewing and finishing touches are added in the storied town of Lewiston, once home to thousands of skilled artisans famous for their quality craftsmanship. Kevin and Kirsten Shorey are making moccasins, a shoe with a story that began thousands of years ago with this country’s first settlers, made with as much domestic product as humanly possible, and they’re doing so entirely by hand, by American hands – cutting, skiving, stitching, and hand-sewing.
Nearly every sentence Kevin spoke began with, “We take great pride….” “We take great pride that we’re not conventional… that we do it here in Maine… that we stand by our product… that we’ll fix any problem.”
“With Quoddy, you receive a genuine handmade moccasin. While leather properties vary slightly with every hide, each pair demonstrates our philosophy: Attention to detail and no shortcuts. Also, many of our moccasins can be made in special widths or sizes… without an outsized price tag.” (website).
That said, I asked the guys working in the factory if they owned a pair.
I, too, can’t afford it but couldn’t leave without ordering a pair. Never in my life has the vice president of a shoe company approached me with the backside of a desk calendar and a pen saying, “Stand on this piece of paper. I’m gonna outline your foot.” Usually, I wear an 11D; according to my invoice, these were made on a 10.5 E last. Excited, I await the arrival of my first pair of custom-made leather moccasins.
I chose to have a canoe moccasin made with dark brown full grain leather and a deerskin full-sock liner in gold. The eyelets will be nickel-plated silver. They will have a red brick camp sole, and for a bit of flash, I chose red leather laces, a personal trademark. The cow’s leather is from Horween in Chicago, the deerskin comes from a butcher in Holden, Maine who passes the skins along to a tannery once he’s carved out his venison, and the soles are from Brazilian gum trees by way of Ohio. Priced at $165, for a shoe of the highest quality materials, made to my exacting specifications down to the last stitch, it seemed reasonable.
Leaving the factory, I caught a glimpse of myself in a window’s reflection. In that moment, the scruffy, bespectacled hipster staring back at me wondered how the moccasin made its way from the feet of a Canarsee chieftain stalking wild turkey along the marshes of the East River to the boutiques of Bedford Ave. Something tells me he didn’t take the L train.
Quoddy centers their brand around doing things well, doing them locally, and doing them with pride. Invest in a pair of Quoddy moccasins. If you wear your Quoddy’s with the same care that went into crafting them, then they might even outlast you.
For more, please contact:
Kirsten & Kevin Shorey
1041 US Route 1
PO Box 129
Perry, Maine 04667 USA
For more photos of my visit to the factory, see Flickr.
Just beautiful. I haven’t been this excited about a plaid shirt in a long time, and I love plaid shirts. All of them. Click on the photos to get a better view of the collection or pay Context a visit.
I’ve suffered a serious bout of spring fever this week, and the only thing to cure what’s ailing me is a game of washers.
I was eight when we moved to St. Louis. That summer, we attended a small family gathering with some of my father’s cousins. Jerry had a washers set: a soup can nailed inside a wooden box lined with electric green astroturf. A set of brass and nickel washers set the teams apart. Everyone drank Budweiser. I drank Vess.
Missouri Washer Works explains the game’s rules:
The game can be played with two or more players, as long as the teams are even.
Boxes are placed 20 feet apart on a flat and level surface.
Players must stand behind the front edge of the box,
and toss each of his or her three washers (usually underhanded)
toward the opposite box. The next player then does the same.
The highest score wins the round.
Points are awarded as follows:
1 point for a washer that lands in the box
3 points for a washer that lands in the cup (a “cupper”)
Opposing washers in the box (or in the cup) cancel each other out.
Continue rounds until one player reaches 21 points.
In St. Louis, it’s as common to find a summer barbeque with a washer competition as it is to find a cooler full of Bud Light tallboys.
If you’re feeling handy, build your own. Otherwise, buy one built in The Gateway City from Missouri Washer Works; while you’re at it, pick up some custom washers, c/o WasherPit. I’m happy to take on challengers far and wide. I’ll bring the gear. You bring your game face.
My entire life, since my first book-full of scratch and sniff stickers, I’ve been an obsessive collector of one kind or another. For a time in college, I collected board shorts and old swim trunks, a peculiar and difficult collection to accrue in rural Indiana. “All the more reason to do so,” I thought. Among all the Sundeks, Hang Tens, and O’Neills, my prized finds are a pair of wool Jantzen shorts with a heavy brass zipper which I’m guessing are pre-war, a Magnum P.I.-styled pair of my father’s Lacoste jams with palm trees, coconuts and airplanes on them, and a hideous print from Quicksilver’s early days. Because Goodwill typically only stocks what’s in season, most of my collecting would happen in the spring. One spring morning – it was a Saturday – I stumbled into the Goodwill in Plainfield, Indiana, and hit the mother load: a pair of kelly green Birdwells that looked and felt brand new, a faded pair of Villebrequin with lobsters on them and a half-inch hole near the crotch, and a pair of canvas Katins. The Kanvas by Katins were the most well-worn of the three, and they were too small for me, but I held onto them. They were red. They were rad. As far as I can tell, they must have been an old pair from Nancy and Walter Katin’s sail shop in Surfside, California. From the little research I was able to do at the time, I learned that as early as 1962, they were using nylon to make these bad boys.
As with most of my vintage finds in college, these ended up in the laundry bin of a sorority house, another treasure lost on the road to winning a girl’s heart. Those Katins were too big for my girlfriend at the time, but she liked how they looked, slung low on her hips. They looked kind of baggy. Hot, but baggy. And because she wore them a lot, I let her keep them. I saw a pair made with nylon, the tag still in tact years later in a well-curated New York vintage shop; they were priced appropriately – high double digits, $50 or $60. I still have the Jantzens, stored away somewhere in my parents’ house, and the others suffered similar fates to the Katins. I think the Birdwells were left to perish on a vacation, hanged in a hotel shower.
The shorts are available at Context Clothing for $106. They come in three colorways: a Beach Clown blue stripe, shore guard yellow, and Baywatch red. They are made in America of top grade nylon, and as with everything Katin makes, these are built to withstand the harshest, gnarliest waves, as well as the tube slide at your local waterpark. They’re a solid investment for summers to come. Or, if like the Partons, you live in the land of the endless summer, these will never leave your sides.You can bet I will be rockin’ the reds all summer long, whether surfing in Montauk, strolling the boardwalk in Long Beach, or barbequeing in Prospect Park. All images c/o Katin USA and Apolis Activism unless otherwise specified.