On Tuesday, January 22, we at of Iron and Oak fought through the frigid weather in an effort to get to Pier 92 on the west side of Manhattan, the home of this year’s Project NYC fashion trade event. After beating the standstill North Jersey traffic, catching a couple of trains and hailing one much needed taxi cab, we finally made it.
Upon entering Pier 92 and seeing Project NYC’s gigantic logo cleverly centered amid log cabin-esque themes, it was clear that this is where the big shots come to play. Fashionable people walking around, doing business, networking, smiling, laughing, joking. People knew people. And if they didn’t, they went out of their way to meet them. It was fast-paced and exhilarating.
Now, there were a ton of bigger brands at this event. Adidas. True Religion. G-Shock. Dickies. However, there were a few brands in attendance that stood out among the rest. Some had massive displays to draw patrons in while others just had friendly people behind their booths. Here are our top five favorite brands, in no particular order, from Project NYC that we think you guys may also enjoy.
RALEIGH DENIM WORKSHOP
One of my favorite denim brands from the event held down just a small corner booth. There were no gigantic displays. There were no gimmicks intended to grab people’s attention. There were just people and jeans. After speaking with John Webb, a self proclaimed prospector and peddler, about Raleigh Denim Workshop, I was sold.
Raleigh Denim makes extremely limited edition jeans in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. They use the same meticulous handcrafting methods used by the North Carolinian denim weavers of yesteryear, before denim weaving and sewing moved overseas. Hell, they’re even using the same old machines those same denim weavers used, a collection of refurbished 43200G Union Special chain stitch hemmers. Additionally, all of their denim comes from their local Cone Mill’s White Oak plant.
To make their brand stand out even further, the inside pocket of each pair of their jeans is signed by the owners, and the leather patch on the waist is hand stamped with the production number so you know exactly which pair of jeans in a limited set you have.
Raleigh Denim combines American hand craftsmanship with old-school heritage and contemporary style. If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, it’s worth noting that the people at Raleigh Denim’s booth weren’t overly concerned with selling you their brand. They were just a great group of nice people who love what they do, which says a lot about a brand.
Schott NYC is an iconic brand worthy of success at any such event. Coincidentally, it’s also one of our favorites. Celebrating 100 years as a staple to fashion’s bad boy ensemble — having had their leather jackets banned from schools in the 50’s because of bad asses such as James Dean and Marlon Brando — their display was modest to say the least. There were no bells and whistles or gigantic displays. They brought their jackets, a few small motorcycle models and some photos of the aforementioned celebrities donned in their fine Schott leather apparel. It was the quality of their product and the swagger of their salesmen that drew people to their booth.
This historical company operates out of their Union, New Jersey factory location. They pride themselves on being the classic American success story, having started in 1913 in a basement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side cutting up raincoats to make jackets. They’ve since tailored their jackets towards motorcyclists and even stopped production on their own jackets during WWII to produce bomber jackets and pea coats for the US Air Force and Navy, respectively. These jackets would then be produced for the Military for the next 60 years. Military style jackets, bombers and pea coats are still available to the public today.
There’s just so much history associated with Schott NYC, and that’s what makes them so respectable. Throughout these past 100 years, Schott has continued to produce quality hand-made products right here in America. Never wavering. Always thriving. Continuing to be the best that they can be.
One company that really stood out at this particular fashion event was Emgie Libris. Mostly because they don’t technically make anything fashion related, although we can see where it fits in.
Emgie Libris is a small company from Brooklyn that makes books. Not only do they make books, they make them by hand. And that’s what drew people to their booth. All day, they carefully made books by hand in front of interested parties. It’s one thing for a company to say they make things by hand, but it’s an entirely different monster when you’re provided the opportunity to watch it happen in person.
Emgie Libris is also a company that’s not above recycling. They use leftover materials such as canvas or denim whenever possible. If it’s scrap, it’s useful. They produce three types of colorful booklets called the “Passport”, the “Designer” and the “Artist”. These colorful little books are perfect for jotting down notes, sketching ideas or making grocery lists. Something I think most men (and women) could possibly benefit from. I know that I forget everything I’m doing all the time, and this is just one way to keep fashionably organized in a technologically cluttered world.
Jon Contino is a master of his craft. I’ve been a follower of Jon’s typography work for some time now, watching it grow from CXXVI to many other projects. Although, Jon wasn’t at Project NYC while we were there because his wife was having their baby (Congrats!), it was still great to be able to see CXXVI’s garments in person and meet with CXXVI rep, Sam Larson.
Their corner booth was simple and almost hidden. There were no massive signs pointing out who they were or what they did. I actually walked past their booth several times while trying to find it and felt ridiculous when I finally did. It was almost as if they were this hidden gem within Project NYC.
To get a taste, CXXVI is a quality, limited edition menswear company based out of New York. The unique style of Contino’s artistry screams “a lot of time was spent on me!”, which carries over to CXXVI’s brand, something I think a lot of brands should take note of. You could say CXXVI is meant for hipsters, or you could just wear their damn clothing and look good in it either way.
One of the more attractive booths at Project NYC belonged to Wolverine, Michigan makers of fine leather boots since 1883. Their booth was surrounded with wooden shelves that lavishly displayed their boots. They also stocked the shelves with old, beat up National Geographic magazines with gigantic wooden tables in the middle. It made me feel as though I were shopping for boots in my grandfather’s study, which isn’t a bad thing, especially when you’re dealing with such a historical company.
With 125 years of experience under their work belts, Wolverine made the original boots that contributed toward helping build railroads, highways, buildings and monuments across the U.S.
After discussing their product with Wolverine’s East Coast Account Manager, Mike Walls, I knew that there was something special about these boots. He showed me old, vintage advertisements for their products, explained to me that they’re hand-made and how the leather soles can be replaced, making them last a lifetime.
Based on our experiences at Project NYC this year, it’s evident what the well-dressed man will be wearing throughout 2013. Everything seems to be dialing back to an age when things were hand-made, even right here in America. Here at of Iron and Oak we hope that you’ll seriously check out this handful of great brands and possibly even put them to use in your own wardrobe.
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