Ever think some jackets are overhyped

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Rgcards, Feb 13, 2021.

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  1. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Fun fact about the Olympics: Northern Ireland doesn't exist for them. NI people can, according to preference or opportunity (whichever preferences the individual clings to) either seek to join Team GB (Great Britain being the big island next door, which has on it Scotland, Wales & England), or the Republic of Ireland - which is on the same island, but comprises the twenty six counties that aren't in Northern Ireland. After the Olympics in London in 2012, Belfast City Council held a reception for the NI based medal winners form both teams. Quite the display of clever diplomacy by the Olympics' bosses there!
     
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  2. Parker HBL

    Parker HBL New in Town

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    Hey guys, Parker here from Himel. I've got some words here from David about this topic that I think many of you will find really interesting and illuminating. Also, I personally do almost all of the QC at Himel, so if anyone has questions about that please feel free to email me directly.

    ↓ DAVEPOST ↓


    Peeling Back the Veil:


    Last week an email came in making me aware of this thread in the forum. My first reaction was anger, shock and then disappointment. I am not known for even temperament or suffering fools gladly and decided to take a couple days to respond. In my own way, and true to my brand, I will attempt to be forthright and earnest in my response.


    Firstly, we are a bespoke jacket maker. I stand behind my products, every single one. I have been making these jackets now for 11 years and things have changed a lot since we started. I have run into every single challenge I expected and some I did not. To date, any customer that had a problem with their jacket, with quality, fit, or order error, got their jacket issues addressed by me or Parker. I have very very few unhappy customers. The ones whose jackets do not fit or have manufacturing errors get their jackets replaced, remade or redone. I can count on one hand how many times a year we have to do it, but we do it. My door is always open to my customers who order jackets because my customers are important to me. To date, I have only had 3 customers in 11 years where I have not been able to find a resolution for a customer who contacted me.


    That said, Charles (Carlos840, I'm sorry I'm not sure how to tag you), there are serious issues with your Chevalier that would certainly have warranted a replacement when you bought it… and we’ve been using your image and positive product review to advertise our services for two years. You’re on the front page of our site. It’s impossible to say the amount of good you’ve done for H.B.L. Please, email Parker or myself so we can replace your jacket.


    Himel Bros. consists of myself, two—each with decades of experience—and Parker. Covid has certainly presented us with challenges—we’re keeping the sewing team in complete isolation for one. Shipping has been tough, orders have been delayed, lead times balloon and then shrink unpredictably. We are succeeding in spite of the fact that we cannot have in-person meetings with customers, fittings and in-person staff meetings to work on the jackets. Parker has also completely revamped our internal bespoke order system, and QC system, in the last three months.


    When I started in 2010 there were some key challenges I needed to overcome to make a company that could produce high quality jackets in design and manufacture while still offering bespoke products. Being obsessive about things, the first time I made a jacket that was not absolutely dead to “.1 mm in stitch straightness” I panicked and could not send it out. My brain was overwhelmed at not being “perfect” and I had to be talked down by my team who was much more experienced at making bespoke jackets. I had to learn to let go of the idea of absolute macrolensing my work or we would not have been able to continue making bespoke jackets. The second time I had massive doubts was when a rockstar wearing one of my grizzly jackets went viral in a negative way. Millions of clicks were making fun of my design. I wanted to hide for a month. But I came to realize that was about the “rockstars,” and not me. The reason I can sometimes feel this way is because I care about what I do, and care about my staff who do their best given any challenge to make our jackets. They are not perfect, they are human beings and deserve respect for what they do as do each and every one of my customers.


    Bespoke is different from Japanese mass-produced brands. Himel Bros. is not equivalent to many of the brands that are doing production runs. I am going to explain the difference very carefully because it is extremely unfair to compare bespoke work to factory run jackets. We offer a unique service and that requires its own understanding.


    In the last 5 years the majority of my customers by far have been truly bespoke customers. Mostly, men of discerning taste who have very very specific ideas of what kind of jacket they want; from leather colour, tannery, animal, liner and most importantly, measurements. Far and away the majority of my customers have owned other brands of leather jackets, including Japanese jackets, and have been dissatisfied with fit and design. My customers need bespoke measurements with our unique fits and patterns that are more geared toward non-Japanese builds. Bespoke is not equivalent in cost, time, and manufacture to factory-run jackets. We make over 30 styles of jacket and use over 10 types of leather sewing with cotton thread. Each jacket is made start to finish one at a time. As we also offer wholesale production for small stores, I can attest that the production process for single jackets is extremely different.


    When a brand makes an off-the-shelf jacket they can use standard manufacture techniques that can’t be used when making a bespoke jacket. The leather is a consistent factory run of leather, each machine is adjusted to run and timed specifically for only that leather. Slippage, thickness character and impact on the machine can be adjusted for each sewer as they will be working on the run for a week or more. One person will sew one piece over and over and over again, in the same way. Each jacket is assembled in a run and often these factories are using specialized machines, double needle machines for example to create an almost computer-like effect. That precision does not make better construction, it is simply a reflection of a factory process. It is also not a coincidence that some brands can offer replicas of Himel Bros. designs at a cheaper price, because they are not bespoke, nor are they fitted or constructed to the same standards that we are using in our bespoke production. Don’t get me wrong, they are good jackets for that price, but they are not bespoke.


    Far and away most of my customers have unique body shapes. We tailor each jacket for each customer. This involves a lot of time assessing an individual's need from posture, body shape, unique measurements and stylistic and material choices. This requires extensive phone conversations, emails and outreach. You cannot get that from an off-the-shelf jacket. Once that assessment is done and a style is chosen, we make a single bespoke jacket one at a time from a selection of patterns using single needle construction.


    A pattern and leather is pulled out, colour matched and cut. The pattern is adjusted for each bespoke jacket, shorter sleeve, straighter shoulder, longer body and we do this for each jacket. The pieces are hand cut, not digitally, and the patterns are laid to match colour and texture. Blemishes are hidden or avoided. This is not typical but a reflection of our full grain leathers, attention to detail and desire to get the best possible outcome. The customer will likely not be able to tell because this subtlety of process is difficult to discern in the finished product.


    Sewing with a single needle machine means there will be variance in the evenness of the leather; especially when dealing with thick seams, overlaps and extreme resistance joins. We do not have double needle machines that make machine-perfect parallel stitch lines and will not be getting them anytime in the future. No jacket that is bespoke will come out as perfectly symmetrical as a production line jacket and I have learned to not make that a standard, but appreciate that as an individual feature of a jacket. We are currently using 100% cotton thread and that presents its own construction needs. Tensions cannot be as high or the thread will break. The thread will break occasionally in high tension spots. It is designed to do that rather than tear the leather. To date the cotton thread has not failed as it is lock stitched, top stitched and glued with flat seams. There have been only two jackets in 11 years returned with a top-stitch failure in a small section and we repaired it invisibly. The cause was likely machine mechanical failure and the affected area was minimal.


    Our construction is parallel to none, and if you took one of our jackets apart you would have to agree. Marketing (‘hype’) is something we have to do to stay in business, not our focus as a company—our focus is making products that live up to our reputation.


    To sum up, we are a bespoke jacket maker. We love and respect all of our customers and the goal is for all of you to have your unique and loved Himel Bros Jacket. To get there we pour our love and respect into our staff and our production methods.
     
  3. Monitor

    Monitor

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    12,678
    So will everyone who points out an uneven stitch on one of your jackets get a remake?

    You missed the point.

    Carlos wasn't complaining about your jackets, he merely stated that the construction isn't as neat as on a leather jacket by some other makers and there's nothing wrong with that. That's okay.

    Sending out a new jacket doesn't prove anything at all, other than that you specifically decided to create a superior product - note that there wasn't anything truly flawed with the last one - for someone, only because they publicly expressed their opinion about your work.

    Will you be asking all the other people who bought your jackets to bring them in for an equally scrutinizing inspection and forward out remakes, in case of uneven stitching?

    This is pointless. You're not doing yourself any service by this, other than making other people question the quality of their Himel jackets, suddenly aware that by your own admission, your QC might be a bit lacking from time to time.

    The point of this entire discussion is that pricier doesn't always equal better. That's all there is to it. Nobody said your jackets suck and there's no reason to feel personally attacked.

    Nothing wrong with the jacket in question - at least not for 99.98% of your customers. It's a beautiful jacket, one that fits just about perfectly and that's something everyone agrees on.
     
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  4. Marc mndt

    Marc mndt Call Me a Cab

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  5. Imuricecreamman

    Imuricecreamman Practically Family

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    I dunno, man. I'm not going to discuss the businesspractice here, but there was quite a lot going on beyond the one wonky stitch on @Carlos840 jacket. There was several wayward seams and also the tear in the back. I'm notoriousy non-picky with most of my jackets, but that particular one was waaaay below the standard of most leather jackets let alone Himels I've seen.

    I think the response from them here is genuine, because they don't want this very flawed jacket out in the wild representing the work they do.
     
  6. cloudylemonade

    cloudylemonade A-List Customer

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    Location:
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    I'm going to have to step in and post something on behalf of our highly skilled machinists. This really isn't the case.

    To achieve the laser stitching done by some Japanese Companies Aero would only need to do the following things...

    1. Skive all the leather on the thick seam.
    2. Use a very high stitch count.
    3. Glue all seams flat before stitching.

    The reason we don't do these things?

    1. Skiving weakens the leather by reducing the thickness by around 50%.
    2. With a higher stitch count, the seams may look straighter by beyond 8 stitches per inch the leather is weakened, especially when it's skived and essentially becomes perforated and is liable to tear like a postage stamp.
    3. Glued seams are much, much easier to sew, but they are impossible to unpick. We no longer accept Japanese jackets for repair here at Aero for this reason. They're not built to be repaired.
     
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  7. Marc mndt

    Marc mndt Call Me a Cab

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    Thank you for sharing your valuable insights on this matter.

    2) this is a topic we discussed a lot. Whether a (too) high stitch count would weaken the leather.
     
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  8. Brandrea33

    Brandrea33 One of the Regulars

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    This is really interesting information. So is it fair to say that jackets built the “Japanese way” aren’t going to stand up as well over time as compared to say an aero jacket that uses different techniques?
     
  9. Mich486

    Mich486 One Too Many

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    1,352
    I’m pretty sure Aero machinists can be trained to stitch as densely as any others if the company wanted to. It is a deliberate decision.

    On the other hand, while I know close to zero about garment making, there are plenty of example of jackets that don’t fall apart (both new and vintage) that have much prettier stitching than Aero. Without entering into details, this alone proves that some of your points above are not true or they are at least incorrect.

    I like my Aero but saying that the stitching is as good as it gets it goes against obvious evidence.

    (Btw the FCL jacket with the tear that generated a lot of noise here and on SF had an entire panel replaced and there is no noticeable trace of any repair, so at least the glue bit is not true).
     
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  10. navetsea

    navetsea I'll Lock Up

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    I suppose fabric glue is not superglue, more like temporary/ semi permanent glue to help with sewing like 3M 27 spray adhesive for handicraft, the people who make my leather jacket use thin doubletape to help with sewing, not sure how sticky film of a double tape would affect needle or deposit glue residue to the needle when used on production scale.
     
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  11. Brandrea33

    Brandrea33 One of the Regulars

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    I disagree. In my opinion, Carlos was clearly complaining about his jacket.

    I think David and Parker should be commended for coming here to address the forum. My take away from David’s response is that if anyone has serious concerns with a jacket they own by him, they should contact him directly. Maybe we read his reply differently.

    I also think David and Parker have replied in a genuine way to this thread and the offer to replace Carlo’s jacket is going above and beyond.
     
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  12. navetsea

    navetsea I'll Lock Up

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    only 3 makers respond in this forum, Aero prompt, HB wall of text , and Zeus wrath (once called Zara).. sorry just a joke, no ill meaning. clearly HB is passionate about their brand and product and the text is well formatted and pleasant to read
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 1:49 PM
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  13. red devil

    red devil Call Me a Cab

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    Very good point, Carlos was not complaining about his jacket, just showing things as they are. If amateurs like us can see the flaws in his jacket after careful examination, professionals with years of experience and the trained eyes that come with it should notice at first glance.

    When I first joined the forum, I thought that Himel were the best made jacket available in terms of construction as well as fit. That was the halo that the brand had, the only downside? The price which divided opinions here.

    Now, as members have become more savvy, and motivated to share their experience for the benefit of all - as opposed to hide flaws for the benefit of the makers - we have a much clearer picture.

    That being said, nobody is attacking Himel here, just rectifying the view that was overly skewed in the past. The strong point of Himel jackets is certainly not construction, but fit and pattern as it appears to be the current consensus from owners.

    So construction is unparalleled in which sense?
     
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  14. red devil

    red devil Call Me a Cab

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    So you are claiming that Japanese jackets will very likely tear and not be repairable, making them a complete waste of money?
     
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  15. red devil

    red devil Call Me a Cab

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    We also have Johnson Leathers, but they never had any issue. And same for Dave Sheeley. I am missing some others I think.
     
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  16. Marc mndt

    Marc mndt Call Me a Cab

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    Field Leathers
     
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  17. red devil

    red devil Call Me a Cab

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    How could I have missed Greg?! :oops:
     
  18. Brandrea33

    Brandrea33 One of the Regulars

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    Seem’s like he’s offering to make you a new jacket.:)

    Will you take him up on it?
     
  19. himelator

    himelator Vendor

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    Location:
    toronto
     
  20. Monitor

    Monitor

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    12,678
    Huh... Yeah, you're right & I forgot about that. I too am really forgiving when it comes to stitching and that sorta thing. I see it, just that it doesn't bother me much. Size issues I find a lot more annoying.

    But in any case, what I'm tryna say is, there's been some complaints in the past, too and while nothing major has ever been brought up - certainly no more than with any other maker, plus we all know how it goes, people only become vocal if there's something to complain about while contentment is taken for granted, as it ought to be at such a price range which of course indicates that a huge majority of people who bought a Himel jacket are happy - there was also no reason for any of this to pass the QC, especially at such a small outfit as they are and especially at what is possibly the highest price on the heritage market. Himel costs a LOT.
     
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