In this update we polish off what we saw at MAN, the Kingpins textile tradeshow, and denim retailer Blue in Green’s showroom for their Japanese brands. So saddle up to see what’s new from The Hill-Side, Viberg, Cone Mills, Samurai Jeans, and more!
Look out, world, here comes The Hill-Side! After several years incubating as an accessories brand, the guys behind Hickoree’s continue to grow and grow every season. While previous THS seasons have been a bit formal–button downs and blazers–this upcoming summer is cool nautical casual. Shoes are velcro-ed, shirts are tie-dyed, pins depict ramen, and the dinnerware still matches the shirting.
They’ve also begun to produce their own proprietary fabrics in the United States, so look for this label for THS exclusives.
There are few brands with as a rabid a fanbase as Canadian bootmaker Viberg. The three-generation spanning workboot manufacturer has been in the “fashion boot” business for less than a decade and already their drops are selling out online in minutes, and they even had the cops called on their most recent sample sale in New York because too many people showed up.
Guy and Brett mentioned that they’re trying to up production, which is currently at about 30 pairs per day, but it’s difficult to do so and still maintain the same quality standards. Despite the high demand for what Viberg already does, they’re still experimenting and trying out new lasts, new makeups, new leathers, and even new construction methods.
One of the new materials is a natural kangaroo leather, which remains supple but tough over the life of the boot.
And in new ways to use old materials, Viberg has had a strong following for their shell cordovan boots, but these flesh out shells show off the inside of the leather and all the dye that makes it through the skin.
Nanamica’s Eiichiro Homma may have the best eye for casual tech fabrics in the world. Coolmax blended selvedge denim–no problem; Gore-Tex fused chambray raincoats–easy; knit seersucker–I don’t understand it but he’s done it; ultra light nylon twill–you’re looking at it. The above bag may look like a navy Filson, but it weighs several pounds lighter.
Kingpins is one of the biggest tradeshows when it comes to commercial denim buying. All those brands that make the denim you know and love rarely produce their own fabric, they come to see mills at shows like this one where they can compare swatches and buy yardage. Here’s some of the best of what we saw on the floor.
America’s last bastion of selvedge denim Cone Mills may not do the majority of their business from the White Oak plant, but that production is still immensely important to the mill’s identity. It’s also their 110th anniversary, so they had the front of the show decked out with items from their archival “Found Collection“.
The latest denim off the White Oak Draper looms line is their “natural indigo“, which uses plant indigo dyes grown in the Southeastern United States.
The denim itself is much brighter and lighter than fabrics made with artificial indigo. No word yet on how these will fade naturally, but we’re eager to find out! They’ll be running it in a 13oz. and a 16oz. denim and will be shipping yardage at the end of August, so expect to see these on legs by the end of the year.
And back from the dead is Cone’s beloved selvedge indigo duck canvas. They had discontinued production three seasons ago, but it has returned with a new sulphur-dyed weft. Apparently many brands were worried about crocking onto their customer’s legs, so these fades will be exclusively on the outside of the canvas and have a more salt-and-pepper appearance due to the plain weave.
Cone’s VP of marketing and product development Kara Nicholas had an example of the original canvas, faded from years of use on a tote bag.
Normally the only Italian mill of note for selvedge denim is Candiani, but recently there’s been a new player–Blue Selvedge. The company is a premium off-shoot of larger mill, Berto, and they’ve been cooking up some very interesting wool blends, super neppy denims, and even a new honeycomb weave.
Artistic Fabric Mills
Our friend Henry Wong at Artistic Fabric Mills has been brewing up a new (old) kind of blue–bleu de travail. Also known as “benzo blue”, bleu de travail was the color favored for early and mid-century European workwear. Indigo was not nearly as prevalent in Europe so they used benzoate to make their blue collar clothing.
This blue fades more slowly and has a residual purple caste, as you can see on the vintage piece below. Henry and his team have reproduced the blue from using vintage examples and old dye manuals to give you another blue option beyond indigo.
Blue in Green
New York retailer Blue in Green has been the exclusive American retailer for quite a few of Japan’s most hardcore denim brands like Samurai, Pure Blue Japan, and Oni since they opened in the mid-2000s. Now they’re looking to expand distribution on many of those brands and invited press and retailers for a look.
Owner and proprietor Gordon Heffner was there to walk us through his brands as well as many of the faded examples he and his staff and customers have worn in over the years. There’s nothing much new on offer that isn’t currently available in the BiG shop, but it was quite impressive to see everything laid out at once, on the rack.
Loop & Weft
This pair of Studio D’Artisan “Salesman Jeans” has something for everyone. They’re sewn with five different kinds of denim–break them in and see which fabric you like best before you make your purchase!
Full Count & Co.
Pure Blue Japan
That concludes our coverage of New York’s 2016 Spring/Summer Market Week. That was over 500 photos and 3,000 words. Big thanks to all the brands who gave their time, Gerald Ortiz, for joining me on this lovely adventure, and Advil so I could do all this on a recently broken foot. See you next season!