The basis of our philosophy is Wabi Sabi, or the transient life cycle of things. The Japanese believe all things have a birth and death, and that there is beauty and character in aging. We want the owners of our garments to imbue them with character that can only be earned through wear, marks, and fades.
We select the highest quality base materials from history such as new old stock buttons, zippers and authentic replicas of original designs that reflect the care and artful construction of the past. We choose leathers and fabrics that are craft-made to wear the longest and mold to fit the wearer's body. We use design and construction techniques that are pulled from past eras so that our patterns embody a unique combination of fit, look, and functionality. We do these things to craft garments that will accept the unique marks that come with age and wear by a loving owner.
This is all made possible by 20 years of knowledge of vintage garments, ensuring that historical nuance, quality of materials and dedicated techniques are all applied to each piece in our collection. We strive to be the "one good thing" in everyone's wardrobe that determines its true value over time.
A lot of consideration goes into every single one of our designs. We do not apply a standard pattern making model. Our patterns are developed from keystone jackets that have unique historical significance in leather jacket design. We pick a base vintage piece that is reflective of a specific period and re-imagine that design using the garment's original mechanical specifications, redeveloping them to a more contemporary body shape and aesthetic.
Every era has different pattern making techniques and specifications that are guided by functionality. Older patterns were engineered using more primitive methods and a common technique was to hand-draw patterns with curved organic lines resulting in meticulously shaped panels. We reimagine the spirit of those patterns on paper resulting in jackets that are reflective of both style and heritage. Rather than reproduce historical garments, we imagine what other forms they may have taken and bring those forms into the present day. Because each pattern is designed with a specific era in mind, the resultant garment reflects a fit and feel relevant to that era in a manner that is distinct to Himel Bros.
Our family history in clothing goes back to the 1920's, repairing used garments for sale in a little shop and working night jobs in clothing factories sewing, pressing, and tailoring mass produced garments. We eventually established a sportswear manufacturer called Bon Ton Knitwear and worked as tailors and owned clothing retail shops.
Himel Bros began as a vintage clothing business in the early 90's, when Toronto was a mecca of vintage clothing in North America. We built a global network of the best stores, buyers, and designers who valued the rare items we sought out. This fuelled an obsession with learning not just the design and techniques of what made these clothes beautiful but also finding and interviewing company owners that were still alive. By the early 2000's there was a pantheon of buyers, sellers and personalities developing in the vintage and new clothing business. When Rin Tanaka’s book, ‘Motorcycle Jackets: A Century of Leather Design’ was published in 2000, we realized that we had supplied many of the same iconic leather jackets. We continued collecting rare jackets and began writing a successful blog about the history of leather jackets in 2007. It was then that we made the decision build our own jacket brand and strive to be as good as the best makers, past and present. We owe much to John Chapman of Goodwear Leather, with whom we spent long hours discussing the best materials and techniques, further developing our concept. We carefully hunted for materials, parts and designs from our vintage collections that would best reflect the core values we wanted to convey. We wanted to be a uniquely Canadian brand, reflecting the long often undervalued contribution of Canadian makers to the world of historical garments.
By 2010, we had spent two years to meticulously develop the prototypes of our first three jackets. Each model was based on its own unique pattern and fit, using only the finest parts and materials.
We spend hours hunting down only the finest most beautifully crafted materials that are reflective of our standards for quality and craftsmanship.
Buttons: Currently we are using old stock 1930's-40's melamine buttons. Early plastics were much harder, less prone to chipping, coloured all the way through and had a very heavy weight. This quality is not easily replicated. Manufacturing flaws further contribute to their beauty.
Thread: We scoured North America and found one of the last thread mfg companies in the USA that still produces 100% cotton lubricated thread. The advantages of 100% cotton thread are that since the thread is softer than leather, it will not saw through and wear the leather out. To sew a leather jacket with this thread, the sewer must go approx. one third the speed of making a jacket with poly or poly cotton thread. This increases the beauty and precision of the stitchwork. The needle must be very small leaving almost no trace of needle holes or the cracking of leather you find in other jackets. We are one of the few companies will take the necessary time and effort to work with 100% cotton thread but the results are worth it.
Zippers: After researching for years the history of the zipper we were pleased to discover a few companies that had dug into their archives and recreated authentic reproductions of early 1930's and 1940's zippers. Our colleagues in the vintage clothing business lead the charge to supply the rarest earliest versions of the zippers to manufacturers and now we can all benefit from replicas of these early models. The rarest 1930's zippers sport cotton tape and, if treated well, age beautifully.
Banding: Our knits are 100% wool and made custom in small batches by an old US company specializing in lost and historical weaves.
Fabrics: We try to source 1st world produced fabrics as much as possible. To date most of our liners are weaved and printed in Japan. We have a selection of cotton flannels in Canadian Provincial tartans which are from Hong Kong. Our heritage fabrics are sourced from companies that have been making fabrics for over a 100 years. We use Scottish Harris Tweed hand weaved in the Hebrides, British Millerain Wax Cotton, and Pendleton wool from the United States. We seek out these fabrics not just because they are ethically made and environmentally conscious but because they naturally embody some of the finest most beautiful characteristics.