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Himel Kensington review, first custom

Damon141

Practically Family
Messages
759
*mods if this is inappropriate in its own thread feel free to move it to the Himel thread.



Warning this is a long read, and I wanted to thank everyone here that contributes to uuthis board for the knowledge you share with strangers. Those that spend their hard earned money on these beautiful jacket collections and share their experience like Marc, Ton, Carlos, CanuckPanda and countless others. You do a good thing.



Backstory on my choice.

So after much frustration and bad luck I finally have my first bespoke leather jacket.

If anyone remembered I had the misfortune of paying for a Lewis Leather jacket during a difficult time for them as they lost the employee which handled fitting/sizing. After a refund I was a free agent on the search again.

My initial thought was to pick up an Aero Leathers jacket simply because they are an outstanding value for the material choices, model variety and alterations available, unfortunately Carrie which was very helpful told me they were running longer than I wanted to wait so I told myself I would try again maybe next year.



My first high end jacket bought here in the classifieds was a Himel Kensington and unfortunately with my lack of knowledge the jacket didn’t fit. So I’ve always had a soft spot for the Kensington so around the time I was canceling the LL I sent HimelBros an email inquiring about jacket options. A month passed I thought they had missed the email until out of the blue Dave Himel himself called me about the email I sent and told me the different options available. I was thinking a Pinecrest or British Raider at the time because of the more complex design, we had a nice chat and he could probably sense my hesitation and asked me if it was the price. I said no but he knew better, let’s be honest these are expensive jackets compared to what average people wear. Are they a good value? That’s subjective and there are less expensive options but then again people buy Lambskin Saint Laurent and Tom Ford jackets for $5,000-$8,000 so in my eyes it is still a fair price considering material cost and he told me he has 4 employees which I figure have to be paid during slow times as well as busy.



I thought about it for a few days then said what the hell and called him back. I was originally going to get a different model but probably for sentimental reasons I chose the Kensington. Or the one that got away.



The process:

He sends you an email invoice then once it was paid we began the process of choosing the leather, zippers, lining and he asks for measurements.



I chose the Black Oak Steerhide with brass hardware and Mitchel camo lining mainly because it was my first custom jacket so I felt like it should stand out, any choice including a simple black would be perfect.

After emailing back and forth a few times he had most of the information he needed and we ended up confirming everything on the phone.



Let me tell you that Dave Himel is extremely knowledgeable about jackets, vintage and new, the process and is really down to earth when you get him on the phone. I’m saying this because some of the comments he posted here on the board seem brash but honestly he is most helpful and very generous with his time. I actually suggest that if you are serious about buying a jacket that you ask him any questions on the phone if possible because some things in email form get lost in translation. He seems to travel a lot probably to promote his company but if you have the chance.



Wait time:

I didn’t really ask him for a time, he did say his crew was not too busy at the moment so it shouldn’t be long and I didn’t want to be one of those customers counting down the days ready to bug them if a deadline had past. I just made sure I ordered with plenty of time to spare until I planned to wear it, I.E. summer time. I would not expect to order in November and receive in January.

All in all the process took about 8 weeks which to me is great timing. From what I understand they have 4 employees as I mentioned but only one machinist doing the stitching, to my knowledge. I’m assuming after talking to Dave that he probably handled that at one time but as things grew he focused on the business end.



Arrival:

Out if the blue I received a shipping notification on Shop and my eyes lit up. Time flew and I was unexpectedly surprised at the time.

When it arrived, the jacket was packaged in an unassuming white box delivered by DHL. When I opened it, the jacket was folded neatly inside a clear plastic zippered bag, similar to what bed sheets come in. I assume to protect from any moisture during the shipping process. There was a Himel Bros sticker on the bag and a printed sheet which had care instructions for the leather. Basically said don’t do anything or use anything on the leather for a long time since the leather has natural oils imbedded during the tanning process.



First impression:

As everyone can imagine, I was overjoyed that I finally had my very own jacket.

I chose beige/light stitching and against the dark brown leather it really stands out. I know most would want something more subdued but keep in mind this is my first custom so I wanted something that nobody has seen before.

Stitching seems really neat, true to their word 9 stitches per inch.

The lines seem straight and even and just enough imperfections to let you know a human being made it. I would not call them imperfections exactly but just the points where the thread is double stitched which I wonder if that is where they changed position, or possibly ended a line, or even took a break because I imagine it takes forever to stitch these jackets. All the turning with the curved areas around arm scythe, cuffs and collar. It has to be difficult.

I think Dave knows how critical the people on these forums can be so he warned me that this is a handmade leather garment and for me to expect small imperfections but I don’t really see any. Maybe if you compare to a Freewheelers possibly which makes me wonder if they just discard a Freewheelers jacket if they have an error? They can’t possibly sew a whole jacket every time without double stitching or one stitch being closer than others considering these are fed by human hands. It makes me wonder what happens to a jacket that has a stitch out of place.

He also told me that companies in Japan that sew these jackets, when they say they are made by one person that it might not be exactly like you would think. They might make a stack of Buco J100’s but do sections at a time, like sew a stack of collars and then move on to a different part. Basically repetition which might make it easier to stay consistent, even Aero from what I understand have certain people doing certain models. But Himel has one person making your jacket and due to the bespoke nature, it will be different every time because everyone’s measurements will be different.



Fit:

Bear in mind that my weight is always fluctuating up and down from working out, I could be 190lbs then in 6 months 215lbs due to better training and more food. Life’s up and downs.

I asked Dave for a tailored look, but not one that looks sprayed on. These look good for really thin guys, but wouldn’t fit my body type.

The measurements came out

Pit to pit 24.5”
Shoulders. 19”
Sleeves about 25.5”
Length 25”
Bottom hem 20.5”


The jacket me fits great, it’s a little tight in the shoulders, but I’m confident it will loosen up, I personally spec’d the shoulders at 19” based on the first Kensington that was too long. I might if gained a bit since then, but I think when you change other areas on a jacket, it might affect an opposing area. Just a guess. The arm sleeves were much looser on the original and much more room in the abdomen which could have had an effect on shoulders, or I could have just got bigger in the shoulders. In any case it does fit.

To some the arms might look loose but they are tight when I flex my upper arm so they could not get much tighter. The elbow has some room I assume for movement so you are not constricted or pulling a seam when you bend your arm.

It amazes me how these jacket makers can achieve a fit from another country sight unseen with just pictures and a few measurements. It’s really an art, and it makes me happy that there are still people doing this trade but also makes me sad that so many jacket makers existed in the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and closed their doors or lowered their quality if they still exist. No wonder my grandma always shopped at Sears when I was a kid, judging by their leather jackets that survived, when she grew up, sears had great clothing.



Leather:

Black Oak Steerhide was my choice for a variety of reasons, I thought it would have a nice soft hand easy break in and being chrome tanned it might be slightly more resistant to the Florida rain that can happen unexpectedly.

It has a nice pull-up texture but was told, and I like that feature on other leather products and the grain out of the box really surprised me. I don’t have a lot to compare it to like some of you, but to me, it’s fantastic.

Not to mention I had preordered 2 jackets from another maker back in March when I joined the board which will both be Shinki, so they will get my Shinki fix soon. They were a year wait so I wanted something sooner, which I blame on this board. It’s so easy to become obsessed with leather jackets.



The conclusion is that I had a good experience and if I had to do it over again, I would in a heartbeat. If my finances allow me to, I would love to have a Frobisher from Himel. So you never know.



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TooManyHatsOnlyOneHead

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,159
Outstanding fit. Cafe Racer is really hard because you need that form fitting look and especially hard to achieve if not having gussets. With some wears, everything will lay flat and some of that poof on the shoulders and in the back will go way. Hopefully your weight stays about where you are because that is a great jacket.

I've got an Avro (via classifieds) and with just 10 or so wears the jacket has transformed. Sensational pattern and lines. And so many cool details. I know he's had some clashes on here with some people but the jacket I got is top notch. No complaints.
 

Damon141

Practically Family
Messages
759
Outstanding fit. Cafe Racer is really hard because you need that form fitting look and especially hard to achieve if not having gussets. With some wears, everything will lay flat and some of that poof on the shoulders and in the back will go way. Hopefully your weight stays about where you are because that is a great jacket.

I've got an Avro (via classifieds) and with just 10 or so wears the jacket has transformed. Sensational pattern and lines. And so many cool details. I know he's had some clashes on here with some people but the jacket I got is top notch. No complaints.
Love the Avro, if I had more confidence that i could have pulled it off, I would have chosen that Avro.

I’ll definitely have to keep my weight in check to keep this fitting especially at these prices, I’d go on a broth diet or get a eating disorder like a swimsuit model

Here are some shots in a bit of sunlight for comparison
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TooManyHatsOnlyOneHead

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,159
Love the Avro, if I had more confidence that i could have pulled it off, I would have chosen that Avro.

I’ll definitely have to keep my weight in check to keep this fitting especially at these prices, I’d go on a broth diet or get a eating disorder like a swimsuit model
LOL. I was just thinking about that today when I bought yet another jacket. I justified it by saying, "well, all this investment going to keep me skinny". No way I'd go through all this again if my weight fluctuated. Stocking up on green tea extract and water.
 
Messages
15,288
Location
Chicago
Looks superb man! Perfect fit, open and closed. Leather looks amazing as does the stitch work. Congrats man, I know this was a journey for you. Turned out perfectly in the end.
 

Damon141

Practically Family
Messages
759
You pull that off well. The jacket fits you great. Your review is very, very thoughtful. We should have a review section so that excellent reviews are easily located.

Thanks for sharing!
A review section would help many buyers, it helps to know what the steps entail when buying a jacket of any budget, it can be intimidating and people can make notes of things they should ask the maker.
I can’t wait for a future build which will have NOS vintage zippers
Looks superb man! Perfect fit, open and closed. Leather looks amazing as does the stitch work. Congrats man, I know this was a journey for you. Turned out perfectly in the end.
Thanks for your help, it definitely was a journey. Unfortunately for my wallet that journey has just begun. I’ve been thinking about half belts lately, I can’t shake how classy they look.
 
Messages
15,677
Not often does Himel looks so good on someone. They got your measurements down to a t and the pattern seems to be perfect for your posture in general. The jacket is very nice, too.
 

Tom71

One Too Many
Messages
1,732
Location
Europe
Great jacket and fit! Looks great on you. Good choice on the leather too.

It‘s nice to read such a thorough write-up about your experience with Himel. It does but some balance in a discussion that becomes too heated at times, for my taste. All I can say is that I personally only had good dealings with him, and his jackets are - as far as I can judge - outstanding.

Wear in good health!
 

jacketjunkie

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,149
Location
Germany
Fantastic looking jacket, perfect fit.

That being said, the wearer makes the jacket. Pictures like this will likely put the averagly built man, who sees them and orders the same jacket in expectation to look the same wearing it, into devastating depression.. :D
 

Jaime

One of the Regulars
Messages
117
Location
Spain
Awesome jacket and fit and a great style choice! In my opinion, cafe racers are one of the best if not the best types to start with in this jacket world, so easy to integrate with a more modern wardrobe and perfect for eventually start adding more heritage pieces if you choose so. Love it! And that lining!
 

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