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Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
TLDR;
I ordered a bespoke Chevalier jacket from Himel Bros. Leather. It took 20 weeks to complete, more than double their estimated lead time of 2 months. The jacket itself is excellent, but their service was not very good, especially at the price they charge.

What was supposed to be a glorious, once-in-a-lifetime splurge became a costly and stressful project management exercise.

Would I do it again?

If you want to know the details, get yourself a coffee and saddle up, it's a long read. But, hopefully it provides you with some insight into how one customer's experience with Himel Bros Leathers went down. I needed to get it off my chest anyway, so maybe it will help someone who is thinking of ordering a bespoke jacket from them.

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--
PROLOGUE

I initially reached out to Himel at the beginning of 2021 to inquire about getting a bespoke Chevalier made.

Since they never replied, I ended up going with my other option, Langlitz, for a custom order that March. I liked one of their similar models (the Comstock), they had more options (leather colors and mouton collar), and overall, they were less expensive by more than $1100, even with all my customizations.

My Langlitz jacket never materialized, though. They kept me on the hook from when I ordered in March 2021 until that November, a couple weeks before delivery was supposed to happen in December. They then refused to make the jacket unless I could fly out to be measured in person in Portland, which is pretty ridiculous for someone mail-ordering from NYC.

I actually was in San Francisco literally a week before they emailed for a wedding. Had they communicated this any sooner, I would have considered making an expensive pit stop, but it was now out of the question. Needless to say, the order was canceled, and Langlitz was not that nice about it, either. Maybe they're too busy making jackets for Nick Cage.

--
PLACING THE ORDER

So, I turned back to Himel in November 2021. The Chevalier pattern is in my top 3 jacket styles, but mainly, Himel's price turned me off. After the disappointment with Langlitz, I figured fck it, "one good thing," as Himel's motto goes.

The initial communication was pleasant, if not sporadic and sometimes not thorough. Some questions or comments from me would be missed or ignored in the emails, but David is very willing to hop on the phone and talk.

When we did talk, he really took the time to understand what we were building, and cited any potential issues (leather weight vs. jacket pattern, availability of desired materials), which I really appreciated -- he is definitely knowledgeable in his craft.

In retrospect, it would be wise to get leather swatches or samples from them if they offer it. There were a lot of confusing things about which leathers were available, how they'd patina, etc., and it probably would go a long way to visit them if you are local, or ask if they can send you samples of the hides you're interested in.

I wasn't offered swatches, but I was picking from very few hide options due to my color preferences in this case, so I didn't ask. The pictures they send of the leathers via email / text message are not high quality, and do not accurately show color or texture. They are not organized or labeled in any real way, so you as a buyer start to lose track as to what's what. Langlitz did send me labeled physical swatches, and it made me much more confident in the choices I made for the jacket they never made.

I was working directly with David and Jasmine, his employee who deals with orders. I understand he's got about ~4 people in the shop: himself, Jasmine, his sewer, and his cutter.

Eventually, by November 19th, we had the details settled, and I placed my order, with David mentioning it would take about 2 months to complete (their site estimates 4 - 6 weeks, so I figured mid-January). By beginning December, they had my sample jacket, measurements, and all the specs I wanted in the Chevalier.

To get started, they needed everything paid upfront, then I shipped them a fit jacket of a similar style, and emailed photos of me wearing that jacket, some dimensions I wanted changed based on that fit, and a form they sent me, which provided them with specifications, measurements, and preferences for what they were making for me.

[continued on next thread]
 

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Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
--
PRODUCTION TIMELINE, COMMUNICATION, AND CUSTOMER SERVICE

I received the jacket April 11th, 2022 after ordering it November 19th, 2021. That is a total of 20 weeks from order placed to product in hand. The estimated lead time on their site still says 4 - 6 weeks, and the estimate given at the time of order was 2 months, so it took more than double their estimated time to actually get the jacket.
November 19th, 2021, order placed. When I spoke to Jasmine in December, she mentioned the jacket should be done by end of January, which was reasonable, at the tail end of their quoted lead time of 2 months.

February 2nd: that had passed without a word, so I emailed her. Radio silence, so again on the 7th, at which point she said they were on track to be ready by end of February. She cited COVID delays as the reasoning. I expressed my disappointment, but mentioned as long as it came before March, I could at least get some use from it before it warms up here in NYC.

March 11th rolls around, and I still had no updates, so I called Jasmine again. At this point, I was frustrated to the point where I was considering canceling this order: it was almost 2 months late, and at every one of their self-imposed deadlines, I had to call them, only to be told another excuse or delay.

She mentioned the pattern had been measured out, but also basically told me it wasn't started yet, by virtue of the fact that she offered me a new leather option for the jacket on that call.

I told her to cancel the order, but basically, she talked in circles, making excuses, and going on about why they couldn't accept returns on custom orders, to which I replied, it ain't a return if I never received the product!

She assured me it would *finally* be done in the next two weeks. She also 'managed to find' some of the original New Zealand deerskin I inquired about in November (had picked Canadian deerskin at time of order since that's the only white they had).

Okay, I says, finish it up in the NZ deerskin, and let me know a more specific timeline for when I am going to receive the jacket.

March 18th: Again, no updates. I emailed reminding her how I'd prefer to cancel if not finished in the two weeks mentioned the prior week.

March 22nd: Jasmine emails saying their lead jacket maker had injured her hand, estimating another 4 - 6 weeks lead time until she can return to work. I called her, said very sorry to hear about your sewer's injury, but told her that wasn't going to work for me: it should have been done well before this happened anyway! At this point I asked her to loop in David to advise on cancelation.

March 23rd: She did loop David in, and I replied with an explanation of my disappointment and unwillingness to wait another month plus. At this stage I was ready to initiate a chargeback on my credit card, because there was no communication. No reply from David despite me sending two followup emails that week except a missed call with no voicemail. No emails back to me.

March 28th: I finally have a work-from-home day, so I gave David a call at lunchtime. He told me his sewer / jacket maker is already back to work, healed much more quickly than expected, and she is working on the jacket for him to pick up that Wednesday and get shipped out to me, and that it would be with me by that or next week.

I told him my frustrations, and he basically made more excuses: he threw Jasmine under the bus for the communication issues, said they spent time tracking down the NZ deerskin (despite me having simply committed to the Canadian deerskin equivalent they offered me at the outset since they didn't have that), and apologized, offering to throw in a hat for the trouble.

Since it was supposed to be with me now within a few days, according to David, I basically told him I was pretty pissed at this point, but let's finish it up, with the caveat that any later would bring us right back discussing a refund.

As that grace period moved on, David's reply became, "it will be done end of week," followed by "he'll let me know how things progress...with the injury," to "not going to push my sewer with her injury, I will let you know."

I totally agree his employees' health comes before any material goods. But, again, this should have been long done, well before her injury. He was basically not giving any real commitment for when this would be done, despite giving a rosy timeline on the phone when I spoke with him. I pushed for some solid deadlines.

He then texted me to stop emailing and "overexpressing" my concerns, to which I told him I'd rather have my money back at this point. He said he's going to meet his timeline, and for me to just sit back and he'll keep me in the loop.

April 7th: No further direct communication, but finally -- a shipment message from their web store's automated system with my tracking number.

Aprill 11th: To the end, Himel's dates were off target. On the phone, he said it would be with me by the previous week, but it still arrived the following week based on when and how they shipped.

--
The End
Until I began expressing my frustration with all their delays (at that point ~3 months into my 2 month quoted lead time), there was never any progress on my order. For all the issues with lead time and communication, they offered no concessions besides an apology and a complimentary beanie (the cheapest item they stock).

Once I received the jacket, there was no thanks for my patience or for ordering a Himel jacket, I was just left with what I ordered, full cost, way late.

--
[continued on next thread]
 

Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
THE ACTUAL JACKET

Now we get to the shit everyone came here to see, the actual jacket!


20220414_121256.jpg



The Leather
The deerskin itself looks even better in person than it does on their site.

The hide is the New Zealand White Natural Deerskin. The sample pictures they sent me of this leather via email and phone were horrible -- a stark white, looked fairly shiny, with an unpronounced grain.

In person, the hide is grainy AF, has a soft sheen to it, and is a light cream white. This does look more like photos on their website or some of the jackets that feature this same material on their blog / Instagram. My pictures though are way closer than the leather sample photos they shared when I was making my selections.

The alternative leather I had to pick at the outset (Canadian White Deerskin) has no documented complete pieces online, so I had to go by the sample photos, which made it also look like a wheaty natural light cream color, not a hard white. In the end, I am glad they found a way to secure the NZ deerskin, because in person, it is exactly what I was hoping for from a color perspective.

It has an extremely soft hand and is very pliable. Even with some try-ons and light wear at home, it's starting to break in, and it doesn't look stiff or new. I can't wait to see how it truly breaks in, but it came with some marks already on it, and according to David, it is a stain magnet, so it's going to have to be used with utmost care. I don't think it will handle rain well. Definitely not a jacket for riding, but it was never intended for that (and this was made clear to me by David upon choosing the deerskin).


20220414_122046.jpg



The Build
Stitching looks really neat all around. This was one of the first things I inspected, having read some stories about this being a QC issue Himel has had in the past. I can't identify any egregious stitching errors.


20220414_121907.jpg



The lining is the Maple Ochre Canadian flannel. It is really soft, light, and breathable, but not very warm at all.

The combined softness and lightness of the deerskin and the flannel makes the jacket extremely soft overall. Super, super comfy. Not very warm though, maybe slightly warmer than my Lee Storm Rider.


20220414_121835.jpg



The hardware is cool, either vintage NOS or Japanese repro. Some of it has wear and tarnish, which I don't mind too much, but would have preferred unworn hardware all around, since it'll get there eventually. However, out the box, this thing looks cool asf.

The Chevalier pattern is one of my favorite modern jacket designs. I like it better than the Freewheelers Centinela or the Lost Worlds Leathertogs. I did like the Langlitz equivalent a lot, but the Chevalier has a much more streamlined, understated design. Even after obsessing over it for a couple years, frankly, it is awesome to see in person, especially in its bespoke deerskin glory.


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The Fit
I asked Himel for some dadbod / layering room, and they made that work without the jacket feeling bulky or oversized. The fit is great - excellent. There is a tiny bit of bulk in back with the expansion gusset, and in the bicep, but that's part of the room I asked to have, and I am confident I can slip a sweater underneath without stressing the jacket. The midsection fits awesome, achieving a perfect drape along the beltline, as do the shoulders and neck / collar.

The jacket just hangs really nicely, that has been a distinguishing feature Himel got right here.


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Overall

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One of the biggest questions here is whether Himel Bros. is worth the money. Himel's motto is "one good thing," and I am fortunate enough to have a few good things, but this is one of the most expensive of those things.

It's been discussed to death on the forums, but there's definitely a substantial markup on their jackets. I think they do use premium ingredients, but even then, I can't imagine the construction costs are close to the sticker price.

When I was in the mode of splurging (for me at that time, again, after a long disappointment with Langlitz, and then as a last hurrah before my first born arrived), I just dove in and went for what I hoped was the best, price be damned.

What I got was a stressful project. And at the end, a hell of a nice, costly jacket.

I'd spend a half hour here, half hour there on the phone, at first doing the fun stuff, then having to check in with their team every time my jacket was supposed to be done, only to hear it was still a ways away.

When this sum of money is involved, communication is important, and it becomes frustrating to have to manage the project for them to any extent. It also becomes infuriating when it's beyond late: it was supposed to come in the middle of winter, and now that I have it, we're getting temperatures in the 70s here in NYC, hardly jacket weather. So this big splurge is going straight into the closet for several months.

It becomes another level of frustrating when the response from the seller you've paid so much money to is underwhelming. I was put off by David's semi-dismissive attitude towards this. He has been on these forums and has expressed his disappointment that people come to these places to provide feedback and express their concerns about his product. Well, I expressed my concerns to him, and he gave me a hat, said he was sorry, and told me to stop telling him about them.

I don't feel David is a bad guy; he definitely knows his craft and I think he does treat his business as a place where they're creating pieces of art. As an artist myself, I do know that artists aren't necessarily business-minded folks, though. As a customer, spending several grand on a jacket, that excuse goes out the window fast, artist or not. I have certain expectations at that price point.

I started feeling like I was being the unreasonable, annoying client, even though I left them months to do their thing until I had to become a squeaky wheel. It got to the point where I was so annoyed, I lost all excitement for the jacket, and that left a bad taste in my mouth that I still have when I look at it now that I finally do have it.

Also, I get their motto and vibe: that I'm not buying something for just this past winter, one season, when it was supposed to be delivered and I intended to break it in; it's an investment. You don't rush the art, man. Time is money, though, and this already cost a lot of money, and time! To go on with the annoying adages, you can have 2 of 3: good, fast, or cheap. Since it was neither fast nor cheap, but at least the end product was good.


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In the end, was it worth it?

Not in my opinion. Would I do it again? No.
If I was buying something off the rack from them, in their store, where I could handle the jackets, try them on, talk with them in person, real time, I think it would be a good or maybe great experience, but for a dude far away getting a custom mail order from them, it was not a great process.

The outcome -- I really like, maybe even will grow to love the jacket itself, but I feel it was overpriced, even without the customer service issues. If it came on time, I would have said, hey, expensive, but I knew what I was getting into, and it turned out awesome.

But with everything I've mentioned, I lost my excitement for this jacket well before it got to me, and when I see it, I think, man, what a drag it was to deal with Himel Bros. shame, cos they sure do make a nice jacket. Hopefully the cost in time, stress, and money will fade away as I get to use the jacket over what I hope to be many, many years.

20220414_121855.jpg




Regards,
t
 

TooManyHatsOnlyOneHead

One Too Many
Messages
1,969
I've seen a lot of his videos on youtube. No doubt, extremely knowledgeable and passionate about jackets. Definitely would love to have a beer with him one day.

Running a business though is hard and it's really hard when it's something you're passionate about because when things go bad, it can really suck the life out of what you love.

Wonder if he'd be better off charging double or triple, maybe doing a quarter as many jackets, more of an exclusivity type thing that certain people will pay whatever for it. Then maybe some of these workflow issues would get better. But who knows. Making things scalable is the beginning of the end for a lot of small business.

Regardless, beautiful jacket. Not my style at all, but I can certainly appreciate the vision and the workmanship.
 

Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
Drink until you forget about the negative experience and when you sober up you'll have a great jacket that you can't remember how you got, and you'll feel so lucky it'll make you smile again.

Agree, I'm lucky to be able to afford some nice things. I've been drinking but maybe I need to step it up!

Great review the outcome of the jacket looks great. But one thing that concerns me. Waiting on an injured sewer.
Just curious, Can he not sew these jackets himself?

Thank you! I think he can sew but perhaps not at the level of production for his jackets.

Himel jackets are nice, he uses nice leather. But I don't really think they are worth the mark up. I have 2. Just my opinion. And hey its not worth much, I like my schott that everybody hates!

I agree, the hide is really nice. People like to downplay comparisons like, "oh, I can get two or three Lewis jackets or two Aeros for that money." They cite the different tiers of jacket makers as making it a non-comparison. I think it's totally fine to make that comparison -- my custom Lewis jackets don't have as nice a leather, but the fit and quality is similar. I have two off the rack Schotts I love, and the fits are great, both were less than a fraction of the Himel cost. Depends on what you value and prioritize.

One thing I will say in Himel's credit is that the fit of this is great, he does seem to really manipulate the pattern in detail. All of my custom order jackets fit better with weight fluctuations than anything off the rack, no matter how good those fit.

I've seen a lot of his videos on youtube. No doubt, extremely knowledgeable and passionate about jackets. Definitely would love to have a beer with him one day.

Running a business though is hard and it's really hard when it's something you're passionate about because when things go bad, it can really suck the life out of what you love.

Wonder if he'd be better off charging double or triple, maybe doing a quarter as many jackets, more of an exclusivity type thing that certain people will pay whatever for it. Then maybe some of these workflow issues would get better. But who knows. Making things scalable is the beginning of the end for a lot of small business.

Regardless, beautiful jacket. Not my style at all, but I can certainly appreciate the vision and the workmanship.

I totally relate to all of these points. I do think the dude is passionate, knowledgeable, hell, we even have some similar interests. I would probably thought him better with an in-person visit, or yeah, shootin the shit over a scotch.

I think what you said is accurate, clients like me probably make him hate his job. On the other hand, I didn't feel like an annoying client until they pretty much forced me into that mode, but at that point and even still, I do feel like they found my order annoying, through no fault of my own.
 

Damon141

A-List Customer
Messages
469
His friend at Goodwear has prices $1,000 below what Himel charges.
I wish they were cheaper for the less intricate designs like cafe racers considering Real McCoy manages to price Bucos at $1,900 with world wide distribution and Japanese wages are higher than Canada. Toys McCoy and Rainbow Country also have racers around $1,600 usd minus import costs.

But in my short time here I noticed the few, and I mean very few bespoke makers we even have, can pretty much charge whatever they want because this is such a niche market. Overhead has to be super low so profit's should be high.

I would love a custom Kensington because when it’s done right they look so good but when I saw I could buy 2 jackets instead of 1 for the price, I had no choice but to choose 2.

Customer service should be at the highest level at this price.
 

Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
Customer service should be at the highest level at this price.

100% this. If it was highest level customer service, I would've written maybe a third of what I did, just about the jacket quality vs. its price [and let's be honest, it really is a niche who will spend that kind of money on a jacket, so we are approaching even that aspect as people with a certain tolerance for expensive clothing].

The poor service really makes the high price a bitter pill. Grateful I have the luxury of spending and owning the admittedly above-average jacket, though.
 

Brandrea33

Practically Family
Messages
573
Congratulations on the beautiful jacket.

Me thinks dealing with these leather jacket artisans is … well … difficult. They definitely March to the beat of their own drum.

I can’t even get a return email or phone call from Good Wear and I’m prepared to wait the 2 years or whatever it is now. I simply have a few questions I’d like answered before I place my order but there appears to be no way to communicate with them.

I've also sent numerous emails and left messages for EMLC with no returns.

I‘m not a apologist for Himel Brothers, even though I may sound like one at times, but at least you finally got your jacket, it’s beautiful and you can move on with your life. 20 weeks isn’t great but you have a great jacket in the end.
 

Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
Thanks everyone. I hear y'all on some waiting longer than 5 months, but also just reiterating that 2 months was their own estimate. All's well that ends well though, you guys are making me feel better. Though I was already trying to focus on the bright side, it helps to hear I'm not crazy either in feeling like communication can be pretty difficult with these companies. Maybe I'm just expecting too much, even at Himel's price point.

Me thinks dealing with these leather jacket artisans is … well … difficult. They definitely March to the beat of their own drum.

Yup! In the end, I ain't cool enough to own a Himel!

I hope you will post fit pics of your wonderful looking jacket.
I will! It has been too warm for it any time it'd be appropriate since I received it, but I'm gonna force it into the rotation this week before it has to go into the closet for the spring and summer.
 
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Geekrobot

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
NYC
On the Himelbrothers IG, they refer to the jacket as Canadian Deerskin.
View attachment 420080
Wow, I didn't see they posted this, but as mentioned, confusing until the end with miscommunication. David told me it was some New Zealand deerskin they had run out of and then sourced for my jacket. That is where the conversation ended, so AFAIK, my jacket is the NZ stuff. It might be a mistake on their ig posting. In fact, they blamed some of the delay on sourcing the NZ stuff.

Screenshot_20220420-231132_Gmail.jpg


Screenshot_20220420-231218_Gmail.jpg


Per the text in the email above, we went with the bottom material, which was apparently the NZ deerskin, and does indeed match the jacket I received.

White%20Deerskin%20Tarun.jpeg
 
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Canuck Panda

One Too Many
Messages
1,626
Great jacket! Sorry about the wait. They could be better communications up front, but 5 months isn’t long in custom jackets. Still, maker should always be honest with actual lead time and always keep customers informed. Always under sell and over deliver.

Non Himel question, how much did Langlitz wanted for the custom Comstock? Thanks!
 

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