Within the first year of use after I purchased my Filson Otter Green Zippered Tote in back 2013, I noticed a stain on the bottom exterior panels of the bag. The stain was brown/tan-like in color and had a distinct outline of its edges. I initially thought it was a coffee or beverage stain spilling on the inside, but then noticed it appeared only on the outside panels of the bag – no stains were present on the interior.
Here’s a gallery of the before images of the Otter Green Tote over several years (I tried to color balance the images to look somewhat consistent). The “stain” is towards at the bottom of the bag
I felt it was due time to really try and get the stain out or at least reduced. I used a mixture of water and a few drops of laundry detergent and then vigorously scrubbed whole bag in the bathtub using a soft plastic bristle brush. The brownish water that constantly came out after each wringing deceived me into thinking that the bag was still dirty. It was actually dye coming out from the bridle leather handle straps.
I let the bag dry inside out in my patio for a few days. The primary change I noticed after it dried was that the canvas portions of the bag lightened a few shades. The bridle leather also started to crack on one strap, but it was only on the surface. I applied a few coats of Obenauf’s Leather Oil to all leather areas which was much needed. The oil didn’t noticably darken the color as the straps were dark to begin with.
After all was said and done, I think the stain appears less noticable. Looking back, I would have somehow covered the leather straps or at least let the bag hang on on something while I scrubbed just the canvas. Getting the leather completely soaked with water was a bad idea.
Here are the after images of the Otter Green zippered tote by itself and also compared with a Tan zippered tote.
A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I had planned a trip up to Yosemite in December for a few days. Both of us have great experiences with Uniqlo’s HEATTECH collection, and they recently even released an Extra Warm HEATTECH. Uniqlo is quite popular for their down jackets and vests among their other casual clothes. Their clothes are so universal that they even have clothing vending machines various locations!
The Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest was on sale and I eventually reasoned with myself to purchase one. The design is quite simple and practical – there are two hand warmer pockets in the front that can be zipped to prevent items from falling out. On the interior, there are additional vertical pockets behind the front pockets. A single zipper on the front. The vest doesn’t restrict my arms and it is very lightweight. I went with my standard size of a large at a 43 inch (109 cm) chest. I can roll it into a small cylinder shape the size of maybe two fists and place it into the pouch it additionally comes with. The vest worked great at Yosemite and was warm enough to even wear by itself only!
I never was a down outerwear kind of guy, but after my great experience with the Uniqlo one at Yosemite, I decided to look further into another one. I first learned of Crescent Down Works in 2012 visiting Standard & Strange in Oakland, CA. CDW is a small company that produces down outerwear in Seattle, Washington. Not much further away is also Freeman Seattle which makes great raincoats! Seattle (which includes Filson) is definitely prepared for the elements! CDW does a lot of collaborations with other brands such as Freeman, Lost & Found, Brooklyn Clothing, and recently, 3sixteen.
My girlfriend and I mutually decided to buy each other CDW vests as Christmas presents, agreeing on the specs beforehand. AFAIK, CDW makes garments that are unisex so the measurements are what matters most. For mine, I wanted a somewhat neutral color vest with a ribbed collar instead of the standard collar. It’s a nice extra touch that I think makes it stand out from the other down jackets out there.
Water-resistant 60/40 cotton-nylon shell.
100% nylon ribbed collar and streakfree liner.
5.5 oz. premium, 700-fill European goose down.
Front placket with two-way zipper and leather-backed snaps.
Down-filled front pockets.
Made in Seattle.
I ended up purchasing an older stock, unused previous year’s collaboration CDW x Freeman Quilted Down Vest off of eBay. The quilted pattern was used to streamline the bulkier Italian Vest down into a sleeker look. The main difference between the Classic Italian Vest and this Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest is the pattern and how much down is within each stitched area. The quilted design purposely has less fill. The collars are different in that mine has a ribbed collar long enough that folds upon itself once (some versions ribbed but no fold). I haven’t felt any significant difference in warmth regarding the collar types. The ribbed collar does feel cozier on the neck, however. After looking over several online measurements, especially the chest width of 23 inches, I went with my typical size which was a large.
My girlfriend had received her Italian Down Vest a few days earlier so I was able to compare the two vests. The amounccount for the size proportion difference (XS vs L), but the pockets on mine were very generous, measuring about 9 inches x 11 inches (23cm x 28cm). Both of our pockets were angled similarly, but another difference is that her pockets had more down on the exterior which I’d say would keep your hands warmer.
The quality and specs are definite on point. The front buttons are backed with a circular leather piece to prevent ripping through the material while unsnapping. The bottom of the jacket has a bit of ribbing to accomodate some generosity and retain snugness. I like that the vest has a buttoned front placket over the zipper that prevents any breeze from coming through. I typically wear the vest unzipped or completely buttoned and zipped if it’s chilly. There’s a two way zipper also which might be useful for when sitting down but I haven’t used it yet.
The length of the vest was longer than I expected. It’s my fault for overlooking the body length measurements for jackets, I typically look at just shoulders and chest (I think I have average proportions). I imagined a vest would be shorter to provide more mobility (such as a well-fitted waistcoat of a suit). The extra two to three inches on the body length exaggerates the classic straight fit. The outerwear, of course, is designed in mind for all weather use and not fashion.
CDW and other sites list the fit as “classic”, so I’d recommend sizing down one if you want a slimmer fit. Stay true to size if you’d like some flexibility to layer underneath.
If you haven’t tried on or own a down jacket, the material really works. I can wear the vest over a henley or flannel comfortably down to mid 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so. If I need extra warmth, I’ll throw on a jacket over everything so the vest acts as a midlayer. The exterior material (60/40 cotton/nylon) is a blend popularized in Mountain Parkas in the 1970s and is tightly woven, so the material is wind and bristle-resistant.
I managed to put my arms through my my girlfriend’s XS Classic Italian Vest unzipped, and I definitely felt the down capturing the warmth faster. Due to more down filling per jacket area in the Classic Italian Vest, the Classic Italian Vest > Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest in terms of warmth.
I’m loving the size of the handwarmer pockets – they fit a bunch of goods comfortably like my phone, keys, wallet even on one side.
Crescent Down Works’ outerwear is made by hand in Seattle factory, and the stitching, quality, and attention to detail was present. At about $295, the price isn’t chump change, but I think it’s justified. The Italian Down Vest is a staple piece on their website
I never thought I’d come to speak enthusiastically about sweatshirts this much! I visited Standard & Strange in Oakland, CA, initially interested in purchasing the restocked Red Wing 2966 Black Klondike Engineer Boots. Brandon (who is now with 3sixteen!) was very patient with me and helped me select out a Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Ball Park Crewneck Sweatshirt in Navy. S&S is a stockist in the USA that carries a great selection of RMCs. The Real McCoy’s sweats along with their other pieces have the reputation of being the best of the best. In this post, I’ll give some of my thoughts about the Ball Park Crewneck and compare it to the few other brand sweatshirts that I own.
The crewneck sweatshirt is a classic piece in American history. Naturally, the design comes from sportswear for the sweatshirt was used as an alternative to itchy football jerseys. The grey sweat has been worn by many American icons such as John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Steve McQueen, and many more. I’d even go as far to say that it’s as famous as the Blue Oxford cloth button down shirt in American history.
V ribbed placket:Below the front collar Functioned to help absorb excess sweat and to maintain shape of the collar
Raglan shoulder sleeves (one continuous fabric from collar underarm) vs set inshoulder sleeves:Raglan sleeves provide more arm room, providing a wider range of movement than set-in sleeves
Set-in sleeves have a clean, tailored look
Flatlocked stitched seams vs overlock seams:Final stitches which are flat, providing comfort by reducing abrasion against your skin
Flatlocked seams are strong, flat, locked, thin, and also elastic seams
Loopwheeled:The sweatshirt body is one solid piece without seams
This process is done with tubular knitting machines that are in only two locations in the world – Loopwheeler in Japan and Merz Schwanen in Germany
Added information from Standard and Strange: The main difference between a sinker weave and a loopwheel is that the sinker weave has more needles and knits at a higher tension. Sinker weave knitting machines are still slow and expensive, but not as slow and expensive as a loopwheel machine. Loopwheel knits stretch out a lot, then shrink back down with a wash, similar to raw denim. Standard and Strange suggests that if you purchase an item made from a loopwheel machine, that you have it fit more snug as it will stretch out over time.
Uniqlo Crewneck Sweatshirt
Body 100% Cotton*, Ribbing 84% Cotton/16% Polyester*
+V Neck Placket Detail
My budget, readily available sweatshirt option. I’d say this is the best you can get at this price range. The body length is notoriously short. *Uniqlo often changes their fabric composition and thickness every season (Sometime the blend can be more polyester than cotton – you just have to be sure to read the material tag label).
It’s quite thin and the terry cotton on the inside is much coarser/rougher than the Reigning Champ’s
Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Crewneck Sweatshirt
Price: $120 USD
100% French Terry Cotton
Reigning Champ is made in Canada, and they’re nicknamed the “king of fleece”. Their Midweight French Terry Cotton is a year-round soft fabric and is woven in a way that one side feels like a soft cotton towel (interior) while the other is smooth (exterior). The purpose of the looped side is so that sweat can be easily absorbed. The midweight is a year round option for mildly cooler places like San Francisco, but likely won’t be warm enough for winter.
While the price from a $20 Uniqlo sweatshirt to a $120 RC is quite large, I think RC is the best bang for the buck. The midweight french terry cotton isn’t too thick/warm, so it’s great here in California.
Reigning Champ also has side gussets beneath the underarm that extend nearly all the way down the body. This extra feature provides comfortable mobility with your arms, while also maintaining a slim fit that is usually not seen with sweatshirts.
Reigning Champ also stocks a heavyweight, tiger terry, and tiger fleece versions of their sweatshirts. The heavyweight comes in at 500gsm (their midweight is 400gsm), has a courser feel against the skin from the start and softens/molds to you after many wears like a pair of raw denim. It fits slimmer than the midweight so you will likely have to size up one from your normal size.
The Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Ball Park Sweatshirt
The sinker weave neither stretches nor shrinks (with a cold wash) very much and provides a more stable fabric. The interior fabric is somewhat courser than the Reigning Champ French Terry Cotton, but I still find it to be quite soft and comfortable for a sweatshirt. The Real McCoys states that this their heaviest sweatshirt fabric (at 12oz), but they do also have a ligher weight version at 10oz. The fit is boxier than Reigning Champs’s fit.
The ribbing on the sweatshirt is very thick and doesn’t stretch easily. I also like the V-placket detail on this sweatshirt because it works better to maintain the collar shape than the Uniqlo’s.
This sweatshirt is tubular knitted but not loopwheeled. A common misconception is that a tubular constructed fabric makes it loopwheeled.
3sixteen Heavyweight Crewneck Sweatshirt
95% cotton/5% polyester
3sixteen’s fabric is a heavyweight 500gsm fleece from Canada. It’s very warm and has two hidden hand pockets on the front like a hoodie. The pockets do not connect with each other, however. The interior is fleece. The fabric is a hefty 15oz cotton.
The interior fleece was quite fluffy and soft initially, but after the first cold wash and hang dry, the softness has never quite returned. Some of the fleece shed off after, but eventually stopped. The neck opening is wider than the other sweatshirts and stretches easily.
If you want a bag between a briefcase and a backpack in formality, a tote bag might just fit the bill for you. One of Vermilyea Pelle’s staple products in their catalog is the Day Bag. This will be my third review of a VP bag with previous two being the briefcase and the weekender bag. Their Day Bag is a bit of a hidden gem product in their catalog as most guys stumble upon VP because of their briefcases.
When I’m heading out to do some errands, a briefcase might be a bit much in formality especially if I’m not bringing my laptop. You might have seen women carrying their ubiquitous nylon tote bags in a multitude of colors. Likewise, I too want a casual bag that I can throw everything into.
The design of the day bag is quite simple – a one compartment tote shaped bag with a zippered opening. On the exterior is one small pocket. Even though the design is simple, the superb quality of materials and craftsmanship into the bag is what I’ll be focusing about.
I ordered this bag from Dustin in June 2016. At the time this specific makeup wasn’t listed on his site. He posted a picture of this bag on Instagram, and I asked him if he could also construct one with the same specs for me. It took around 2 months for the bag to be shipped which was a bit more than the typical few weeks lead time.
The only other regularly stocked Day Bag makeups I had seen available were an unwaxed Duck Canvas/Chromexcel or Ranger Tan Waxed Canvas/Chromexcel.
Two months prior to ordering this bag, I purchased a Day Bag made for North and South Knives (the sold listing is surprisingly still up!). I contacted NSK and was told that the particular bag was a one-off made for them.
One connection I can make is that after I received my first VP bag, the briefcase, every next purchase from VP after had one material in common. In this example, the Day Bag from NSK also was made of Ranger Tan Waxed Canvas like my briefcase, but with a Mohawk Snuff Suede leather instead.
I liked the style of the day bag, and when I found out an olive 37oz waxed canvas one was potentially available, I knew I had to get that one! (Olive is my favorite color). The Ranger Tan Day Bag eventually was given to my now ex-girlfriend.
For VP’s all leather bags, they offer rolled handles instead of the regular flat handles which is more comfortable (that’s why many women handbags have them!), but you lose the option of the added handgrip. The Day Bag is the only style that does not come with an attached handgrip even though it has flat handles, but I think it fits the design well. The handles are short and unlike female styled tote bags that can be carried over the shoulder, these ones are only long enough to be carried by hand.
The day bag is completely unstructured and tends to collapse if it is empty. The waxed 37oz canvas started off quite rigid but softened up quickly as the wax wore off. On VP’s brand new bags made in the 37oz Heavy Olive Waxed Canvas, you can see that the material is so thoroughly waxed that the canvas shows creasing. The wax on mine has definitely worn off to reveal a lighter olive color underneath!
The Snuff Mohawk leather is my first experience CF Stead’s Tannery which is based in England. CF Stead is known for their suede leather and is used today in well known shoe companies such as Clark’s Originals, Truman Boots, Allen Edmonds, and Wolverine. From other pics of their leather I’ve seen online, their suede isn’t a typical soft consistent suede. They embrace the hide’s marks, scratches, and scars, and they are definitely renowned for that.
On my Day Bag, the Snuff Mohawk is used as the bottom exterior, the side pocket, the handles, and the strap. The Snuff Mohawk is definitely reminds me of roughout leather in terms of its durability and water resilience. It feels a bit waxy and thick. Unlike the VP briefcase whose zipper opening is supported by two parallel, robust leather strips, the day bag does not have that feature. Instead, the zipper is surrounded by just canvas. This tends to make the bag open flop it a bit.
The coolest and my favorite feature on the bag is at the ends of the zipper where there is a Snuff Mohawk leather pull tab reinforced by 4 brass rivets. You can grab onto this tab with your other hand to help stabilize the zipper movement with your other hand. I like this detail of the bag and wished the briefcase had longer pull tabs.
One one side of the bag, there is a midsized pocket leather pocket attached to the canvas. The corners are reinforced by brass rivets. I can’t seem to find much use for this pocket as it’s too small to put documents in and too unsecured to place my phone in. I either wish the pocket was both longer and deeper, had a zippered closure, and/or was on the interior instead.
The interior bottom is lined with soft deerhide leather. I’ve spilled so many forms of liquid in this bag such as water and coffee, and the only the deer lining is still going strong. You can see stains of the liquid but it is only cosmetic. I’ve once spilled nearly a whole liter of water, and none of it penetrated through to the exterior bottom Snuff Mohawk Leather. That shows how well the Snuff Mohawk leather handles water!
The strap attaches to the bag with a D ring on the opposite sides of the bag. What I noticed immediately is that the strap length is much longer than the briefcases’s even at its shortest hole length. I think the longer strap provides you the option of carrying it cross body.
Horween Waxed Flesh, Roughout, and Reverse Chamois
The three Horween leathers with such resilience that they will accompany you to even the world’s end: waxed flesh, roughout, and reverse chamois. These leathers won’t need any conditioning for a long time. The wax makes the roughout very resilient to rain, scuffs, and other elements.
I did, however, decide to apply 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil to my pair of Aldens in Reverse Hunting Green Chamois. Neatsfoot oil is a yellowish oil made from the shin bones of cows and is typically used to soften leather such as breaking in a baseball glove. The color of the boots out of the box seemed a bit too light for my liking. Neatsfoot is known to darken leather and it definitely darkened it to a deep forest green. The reverse chamois leather feels “damp” and cold to the touch, and surprisingly, it’s really, really supple compared to a roughout leather.
The brown and black waxed flesh arrived with their nap completely waxed (brand new black waxed flesh pic below). Waxed flesh when new feels both smooth and rough. You can see in pictures now that some parts of the boots still remain smooth.
What happens over time is that the wax comes off with wear, kicking objects, or even computer chairs rubbing against the heels. The brown pair (which started off a very dark brown) has areas lightened up to a medium brown with the nap/texture revealing itself. The black waxed flesh has revealed shades of grey underneath.
To test out the water resistance of every pair, I poured water on all of them. I wasn’t too thorough in scientifically testing them because in hindsight I would have weighed each boot before and after pouring an equal amount of water on them. That way, I’d be able to figure out which boot absorbed the most and which repelled the most.
From observation, the reverse chamois had the greatest water resistance. But it was likely because that boot was recently oiled. If all the boots were brand new, I’d say the order would go from Waxed Flesh > Reverse Chamois > Roughout in water resistance. Of course, all these leathers innately have high water resilience so the difference is negligible.
I wouldn’t hesitate to bring any of these pairs in rain, snow, or slush. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly afterwards!
In the past few years, Filson has expanded their use of their more than 100-year-old “Tin Cloth” to their bags (which originally used rugged twill). Tin cloth is a waxed canvas nicknamed “tin” by the forest workers. They they felt the garments were like armor protecting them from the harsh rain, wind, and brushes during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Filson’s original line of luggage used 22oz rugged twill as the primary exterior material. And while many bags from that line still utilize the twill, Filson has released newly designed bags that have integrated their renowned Tin Cloth into their construction. Some bags use a combination of both materials such as my Photographer’s Backpack, while other bags use solely Tin Cloth.
I really like the designs of the newer bags such as the 24 hour briefcase and the 48 hour duffle bag. Another change I’ve noticed with these bags is that they use a Nylon Webbed Shoulder Strap instead of the Bridle Leather Shoulder Strap. The nylon strap seems lighter in weight and appears to distribute the weight over a larger area. I haven’t tried out the nylon strap, but I prefer the look of the bridle leather strap!
If you are in the market for one of Filsons Tin Cloth bags, it would be beneficial for you to know some of the key differences between the Tin Cloth and Rugged Twill.
If you already have one of Filson’s rugged twill bags, the interior seams should be bound with Tin Cloth for durability. You will likely see that the tin cloth seams have darkened/patina faster than the twill around it.
Comes with a water repellant finish that will wear off over time
Material is quite stiff and takes a long time to soften up
The first areas to fray are typically the edges of bags where they receive the most rubbing
Twill’s diagonal weave (the weave used on denim) makes it more resilient than canvas to clean tears
Lighter in weight (Filson typically uses about 15oz) than the rugged twill
Repels water better than the rugged twill because of the coating and tightness of the weave
Consequently, this tight weave and wax makes the material not very breathable
Attracts dirt/debris more quickly than the twill
Has a cold, clammy feel especially when newly rewaxed
Seems prone to “tearing” especially at areas that are creased
Shrinks a bit more than the twill especially on outerwear that is repeatedly wet and then dry
Tin cloth seems to darken (or patina) easily. I speculate that the waxed finish helps attract dirt to its surface. The change in color on Tan tin cloth is more distinct than on the Otter Green tin cloth. In addition, rewaxing tin cloth with Filson’s Original’s Wax Finish darkens the material even more. The color will lighten up slightly again when the wax wears off. Tin Cloth is most well-known in the Filsons’s Tan color, while Otter Green comes as a second. Occasionally, black or navy tin cloth is used on bags/outerwear, and I suspect these colors won’t show dirt as easily.
Here’s are some older pics of my Levi’s x Filson Oil Finish Tin Cloth Trucker that was a limited release in 2011/2012.
Filson recommends a stiff bristled brush to clean the material and spot cleaning. Tin Cloth should not be put in the washer. Personally, I take a damp rag and wipe the areas down.
The Tin Cloth that Filson uses is 15oz compared to Barbour’s waxed cotton jackets which is 6oz or less. Between the two, Barbour’s jackets are soft, while Filson’s Tin Cloth jackets remain quite stiff throughout its lifetime.
While Tin Cloth repels water better than the rugged twill, the fabric is very unbreathable because it is tightly woven. If you’re wearing an unlined jacket with this material, expect to be soaked with your own sweat! Barbour’s outerwear typically comes with a cotton lining to help with this.
Tin cloth is an older formula than Filson’s rugged twill because it was used on their garments first. The extra water resilience that the fabric has requires periodic rewaxing to maintain it.
Most of the newer bags that have tin cloth come with a Nylon Webbing Shoulder Strap instead of a Bridle Leather Shoulder Strap (priced at $85 on their website!)
I suppose if you want the best of both worlds, you can take Filson’s Oil Finish Original Wax and apply it on a rugged twill bag. You’ll likely need more than one tin worth to cover the whole bag. In doing so, you get the water repellancy from the original wax and also the thickness of the twill. To prevent fraying or reduce additional fraying on my older Filson twill bags, I have taken a dab of the wax and apply it on the areas that receive the most wear (typically the bottom edges of the bag).
Here are some pictures of my Filson Small Duffle Bag 220 (or 70220 with Filson’s new numbering system) in Otter Green and a brief review of it. After purchasing my Filson Zippered Tote, I wanted another Filson bag that I could use on short trips and also as a gym bag.
Most carry on requirements limit your total linear inches to no more than 45 inches. After some research, these were the Filson options that fit the requirements at the time:
-Sportsman Bag 266
-Small Duffle Bag 220
-Medium Travel Bag 246
-Large Travel Bag 248
At that time in 2014, Filson had already discontinued the 246/248 which in my opinion were really well designed bags. The Travel Bags had 4 outer pockets (2 lengthwise and 2 widthwise) and one large empty compartment.
Between the Sportsman and Small Duffle, I decided on the Duffle because of the simpler design and lesser price. I was able to get the bag on sale.
I’ve had the small Duffle since 2014, and have used it primarily as a gym bag for about 2 of those years since 2014. Therefore, the bag has roughed up on the floor quite often! The color started out as a dark forest green and lightened up to a a grey likely from sunlight and rain.
The bag was very stiff and rigid to start with. Early on, I took the empty bag, essentially crumpled it up into a ball, and repeated multiple times. I also applied Obenauf’s Leather Oil to the bridle leather. The oil was not needed for conditioning purposes, but in hopes that it would soften the leather, and it did!
One of the reasons it’s an attractive bag is that it meets carry on restrictions, and of course it looks nice. It is large enough to hold about a weekend’s worth of clothes.
18″ x 11″ x 10″ = 39 total linear inches, meets most carry on restrictions which is typically less than or equal to 45 inches.
The duffle is shaped like a trapezoid, tapering slightly as you go up. I think the duffle bag looks great when filled up, but not so great when near empty. The major gripe I have with this bag is the single layer twill cotton bottom. All of my other Filson bags including the briefcases, totes, field bags, sportsman have a two layer bottom.
Last year, 3sixteen collaborated with Schott NYC to create a monochrome Perfecto. Two great brands that I love came together to design a limited piece that would embody aesthetics from both brands. When last year’s collaboration was announced, I had already owned a Schott NYC 519 Perfecto in Black. The monochrome detail and removal of the belt did not attract me. I initially purchased my Schott 519 because it included contrasting buttons, one star shoulder epaulets, and a flashy belt. To me, that was the epitome of a Perfecto. You buy a Perfecto because you want the Perfecto details. I was able to try on last year’s collab at Schott NYC at the Americana in a size L (I wear a size M in the 519), and wasn’t impressed with it. The details from the 3sixteen aesthetic included a chambray lining and perhaps the removal of the belt for a cleaner silhouette. The leather appeared very matte, and I was pretty content with my 519 purchase earlier that year.
A few months ago 3sixteen revealed that they were collaborating with Schott NYC for the second time. I was pretty surprised myself as I thought last year’s was a one time only thing. I found news of this information on 3sixteen’s instagram with a closeup shot of a brass button and dark brown leather. Again this year, Milo Ventimiglia modeled the jacket, and 3sixteen revealed in that post that Horween leather was used in this year’s collaboration. I was drawn towards the detail that this leather was “custom tanned” for this collaboration and had a “sugary surface” that would chip off with time. Y’all know that I love things that “get better with age”.
The price this year was at a premium of $1100 USD instead of the previous year’s $950. The extra 150$ was likely due to adding in another company, Horween leather, a term that most fanboys, including myself, would drool to. The snap cap this year was still produced by Good Art HLYWD, but in an aged brass. Because this leather was custom tanned, no one knew anything how it would age/patina!
I was drawn to this year’s version because the piece was in a dark brown, and would actually develop a patina instead of last year’s black, which essentially stays black. I love that aged brass hardware this year was used instead of black, which complimented the dark brown leather.
I took attention to what retailers were stocking this piece on the day of release, December 20th, and prepared my game plan. I had called Schott NYC LA in Los Angeles a few days earlier asking about the anticipated release. Dandee, one of the store co-managers, told me that they were receiving only one of each size from S-XL and was emphasized by Jason Schott and 3sixteen that no phone orders or reservations this year would be taken and for it. The jackets were to be sold in store only starting at 11AM PST on Dec 20th.
From my past interactions, the Schott NYC LA team has great customer service, they are chill dudes that are down to earth, and they don’t pressure you to buy anything if you visit their store. My girlfriend and I had long beforehand planned a roadtrip to Sequoia National Park on the same day, but I told her that I really wanted to pick this limited piece up.
I arrived at Schott NYC on La Brea at about 10:50am on 12/20 Wednesday. The two employees were already inside, but the outer gates were still locked. At 11:00am, they opened the security gates and welcomed me in. Five of the Perfectos were hanging on the front rack – one of each from a size XS, S, M, L, and XL. I was pretty confident that M was my size, tried it on. The phones were already ringing non-stop about the jacket. One phone call I overhead was a guy wanting to buy the jacket, but wouldn’t be able to pick it up in person for 2 weeks. Pretty shady stuff haha. The brass snap button was initially wrapped in one of the hand warmer zipped pockets, and the guys recommended I place it on the jacket so I wouldn’t lose it. A couple minutes later, I walked out with a new jacket.
The overwhelming leather scent is hard to describe. It’s not a typical leather smell I’m familiar with. It’s neither pleasant nor unpleasant… it just smells of “Horween leather”. It wasn’t until a few days later when I returned from Sequoia National Park that I was able to really try on the jacket. It was super heavyweight and stiff, arms and body length a bit longer than my 519. I felt that the aged brass really complimented the dark brown color well.
In my attempt to break the jacket in, I wore it whenever I was in my room. The arm and body creases started to form, and once that happened, the sleeve and body length became perfect. The major differences from the Schott 519 in Pebbled Cowhide is that it’s a heavier weight, no belt (I like this because the belt often flailed around) and epaulets, a deep pistol pocket (great for sunglasses and my phone), and a lightweight, breathable chambray lining instead of quilted polyfill.
It’s been just under 4 weeks since I purchased this jacket, and it has become much softer and cozier. The leather has lightened up in some areas such as the elbows and back. I look forward to how the unique leather will age!
May 2018 Update
After 5 months or so, the Perfecto still has a strong smell to it after purposely leaving it in the backseat of my car for several weeks.
Two major areas on the jacket have changed colors – the elbows and the near front placket.
The elbows have lightened up from a dark brown to a lighter brown from abrasion on surfaces. This will likely be the color the jacket will lighten up to after many more years of wear.
Oddly, areas on the front placket and especially the collar have become polychromatic when viewed in direct lighting. At first, the rainbow sheen appeared around the collar so I thought it was from my sunscreen. However, shortly after the irregularity spread further down the placket in random areas. I think the cause of this color change is the pigment breaking down from age. It’s not very noticable unless viewed in direct lighting from the sun. Also, the color change doesn’t seem to be accelerated by sunlight/UV light as they appear irregularly on the jacket.
As the weather warms up in Southern California towards late spring and the start of summer, I find myself not wearing the jacket as much.
My absolute favorite leather from Horween is Chromexcel – specifically Natural Chromexcel. I love the color depth and variation when the leather ages. I’ll show a before and after conditioning of my 3-year old pair of Viberg Service Boots in Natural Chromexcel. Horween’s other leather/tannages such as Cordovan, Chromepak, and Dublin all come really close as my runner-up favorites!
Here is a tannage chart taken directly from Horween’s website. Out of the 51 leather types listed, I narrowed the list down to 8 of the more commonly used tannages for leather goods. I highlighted what I feel are the key characteristics that makes Chromexcel unique, and I’ll briefly go over each.
Because Chromexcel is a tanning process and not a leather type, you can have both cowhide and horsehide. It is also known as the “original pull-up leather”.
Combination tanned: Chromexcel is both chrome tanned and vegetable tanned which brings in qualities of both processes! Tanning is the process of permanently altering the structure of animal skin. Chrome tanning is a faster method using chromium and makes the leather soft and water-resistant. Vegetable tanning uses organic tannins from trees and other plants along with other oils/waxes and creates a very durable leather. Veg tanned leather is not water-resistant, so water may stain.
Hot stuffed: Chromexcel is heavily nourished with oils and waxes that creates the pull-up effect and water resistance.
Air dried: Chromexcel is naturally air dried for about a week such that the leather shrinks to its original size.
Aniline finished: The leather is saturated with soluble dyes such that the texture/irregularities of the leather is left untouched which is ideal for a raw enthusiast like me!
My Natural Chromexcel Leather Goods:
These are a few of my other small goods in Natural Chromexcel. The most wears are probably seen on the One Star Leather Park Sloper and Hollows Leather Rail Belt as they were worn/used nearly every day. Both these are at about 3 years plus of age. If you don’t want excessive stretching on a belt, I’d shy away from CXL as it initially stretches significantly!
The leathers of both pieces started off as a light brown oak color. The leather color darkened quite quickly within the first few months to a rich brown by oils, dirt, and abrasion. I noticed that direct sunlight also sped up the darkening process. The leather also picked up significant indigo dye from my raw denim. After the initial and drastic color change, the color becomes quite saturated and will not darken all that more.
I have not felt the need to condition the leather, and they both still display a lot of pull-up. With the amount of oils/waxes in the leather, most superficial scuffs/nicks have been easy to rub away with my fingers.
Viberg Natural Chromexcel Service Boots:
7 Brass eyelets
Partial structured toe
Made in Canada
Price: $720 USD
When I purchased this pair, there weren’t too many pics of Natural CXL Vibergs online. There has been at least one similar spec MTO arranged by Styleforum around 2014-2015 but with an unstructured toe.
I purchased this pair of Vibergs from Mr Porter back in mid 2015. I believe it was the second restock of this makeup on Mr Porter. When I received it a few days later, I was blown away by how thick the Natural Chromexcel was. The leather arrived with a significant sheen to it. It took quite a while for any visible crease to form (in contrast to my Viberg Color 8 CXL pair). For the price of $720 USD, I’m glad Viberg used high quality hides!
The boots arrived with a small, adorable 1oz jar of Venetian Shoe Cream, a pair of flat waxed cotton laces, and a spare pair of brown rawhide leather laces in the box. I initially kept the flat waxed laces as I wanted the laces to accentuate the sleek, narrow 2030 last. Yet, I had a hard time deciding which laces suited the boots best. I eventually switched over to the leather laces after a few months. The flat laces reminded me much of the laces used on Alden’s boots (although this Viberg pair of laces were thicker and sturdier), and I feel that the leather laces fits the rugged Viberg brand aesthetic well.
I like the pairing of brass eyelets with this leather. They seem to make the rich brown tones “pop”.
The toe box is partially structured and is further reinforced by the thick Chromexcel leather. While the right boot’s toe area has flattened a bit, the toe box is still quite firm to the touch on both boots.
The boot tongue is also made of a thinner, softer Natural CXL which was different than my color 8 CXL pair that had a black contrasting oil tanned tongue. The black oil tanned leather is the standard go-to tongue for Viberg boots. I feel the CXL tongue fits this boot better than a contrasting one would. The leather used here is very much pliable, soft, and shows creases from the laces well.
For conditioning/care, I’ve kept to a simple regimen of applying Venetian Shoe Cream every 6 months or so. I apply it onto the palms of my hands (minimizes loss from using a rag) and rub the cream onto the boot. I let the cream dry for a couple of minutes, I brush them down with a horsehair brush. Initially, the cream darkens the leather and provide a glossy sheen. The color lightens back near to its original after some time outdoors. Every few wears, I wipe the boots down with a damp rag and brush away any dirt with a Horsehair Brush.
The cool thing about CXL is that you can rub away most scuffs/scratches because of the oils/waxes embedded in the leather. Down below is an example of superficial scuffs that went away after some VSC and brushing. I used a polished deer bone in circular motions in the area to create friction so the cream penetrates.
Here’s a rear heel counter shot of a few pairs. You can see that the natural chromexcel pair on the left has minimal creasing compared to the color 8 CXL and Olive Chromepak.
Compared to the other 3 pairs, the captoe on this makeup seems a bit shorter, but I hardly notice it when it’s not next to my other pairs.
In conclusion, I think that Natural Chromexcel is an easy to care for, interesting, and beautiful leather. The selection of hides that Viberg uses on their boots is second to none. If I were to only own one pair of Vibergs, this pair of boots would be it! Although this exact makeup isn’t readily available, a handful of retailers such as Lost & Found, Brooklyn Clothing, and the Viberg.com site recently have stocked a Service Boot with this leather.
Ever since I have owned my first Alden pair of shoes in Color #8 Horween Shell Cordovan, I’ve noticed the color patina to a lighter shade over time. I’ve observed it happens most prominently with Alden’s Color #8 Shell Cordovan because the color starts very dark. I believe that Alden treats their Shell Cordovan (from Horween) with their own glaze that provides sheen and glossiness. On the other hand, their color 8 chromexcel brightens up much more quickly.
These are three Alden shoe pairs pictured and their dates purchased:
Alden x JCrew Color #8 Shell Cordovan Captoe Boot (10/06/2013)
Alden x The Bureau Belfast Color #8 Shell Cordovan Longwing Blucher (12/28/2015)
Alden x Epaulet NYC Color #8 Shell Cordovan Tanker Boot (11/30/2016)
My shoe care routine for these three pairs of Shell Cordovan have been the same:
1. Wipe down with damp microfiber cloth after every so number of wears 2. Brush with a Horsehair Shoe Brush
Every 6-12 months, apply some Venetian Shoe Cream to the cordovan sparingly, letting it dry, wipe down any excess cream, then back to brushing. For any scuffs, I apply a small drop of Venetian Shoe Cream in the area and then use a Polished Deer Bone to rub circularly with light pressure. I’ve tried the Deer Bone without any cream and noticed it doesn’t do much. You can also use the back of a metal spoon to achieve similar results.
I’ve yet to need to apply any wax based polish to the shoes.
Recently, I feel that Alden’s Color 8 batches have been much darker than I remember. The color looks almost black unless in direct sunlight. I believe much of the reason Alden re-dyes their Color 8 is to minimize any blemishes/scars the leather may have.
I’ve yet to determine what causes the lightening of color in the Color 8 Shell Cordovan. It might be pigments naturally degrading with age or even direct sunlight playing a role. Either way, we each have our own perceptions of what Color 8 Shell Cordovan should look like – whether a very dark burgundy or a deep, vibrant red, Color 8 will always be king.