These Guys Handpick Tomorrow's Biggest Handmade Brands
There's a certain comfort in knowing the true origins of your possessions—it's as much a part of the 'Buy American' movement as any. But considering the amount of "makers" on the scene, who can sort the wheat from the proverbial chaff? That's the task of Goods Of Record, a new site dedicated to shining a light on the country's finest men's products, and the people who are making them.
Helmed by a trio of dudes with roots in the e-commerce and fashion scene, GoR is not an online store that just stocks its e-shelves with a carefully curated selection of under-the-radar goods they expect you to blindly covet. Rather, each of their featured makers get the full profile treatment, complete with a brand backstory and short documentary-style film. It's like being able to virtually visit the workshop where each product is born.
We scoped out the five brands (and products) they're highlighting at launch, and damn, these guys have some good taste. You're going to want to pay attention.
Initially launched as a blog about DIY stuff by full-time graphic designer Matt Pierce, W&F has since taken off as a real-deal heritage goods company run out of a maker co-op workspace in Portland, Oregon. His obsession with textures and materials has taken hold in his stock of small leather goods, which are all meant to grow more luxurious "with a handsome patina," as they age. Just like you.
This fairly new Brooklyn-based leather-maker finds inspiration in the look and feel of vintage military and utilitarian goods from the golden age of American manufacturing (late 1800s), as evidenced in his signature canvas and leather duffels and messenger. The idea for this particular duffel was initially conceived out of necessity back when the guy behind the brand was designing window displays for Ralph Lauren's Manhattan flagship, and needed something functional to schlep around the city with huge bolts of fabric.
Each of these vintage military-style packs—which transform from backpack to messenger in one swift strap-swapping move—are handcrafted by proprietor Nathan Smith in the basement studio of his suburban Atlanta home. With the help of his 1950 Adler sewing machine, each one takes around 12 man hours to complete, allowing for the attention to detail Smith insists upon. The result is something worth passing down through generations, and will hold up long enough to do exactly that.
Launched in their backyard out of necessity by a pair of cash-strapped young parents, this small Midwestern leather goods company is now a humming, seven-person family business. It turns out top-notch and meticulously-detailed minimalistic wallets like the ones above, plus keychains and a variety of other every day carry items. Their digs? An old-school workshop that harkens back to good ol' days of American manufacturing.
Born from a lifelong fascination with wood that began during voyages through the forest with his dad felling trees for their wood-burning stove, Jason Birchfield's eponymous line of goods are crafted through a rigorous ritual. Once he's harvested the ash, cherry, and maple slabs (from dead, dying, or otherwise doomed specimens), they must be air-dried for at least six months to achieve the low-level moisture count required to be properly worked into their various final forms.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supecompressor, and fairly content with his current patina.