Tag Archives: Tanner Goods

Kiriko Made: The Post-Industrial Bespoke Movement

Kiriko One

In a world where consumer goods are meant to be opiate for the masses, and shopping is a sport to numb the pain of daily life, a new movement has risen from the ash and garbage that fill the streets: Oregon Industrial. Perhaps it would sound better as Bespoke Industrial or Artisanal Industrial Mercantile? Regardless, there is a higher end, post-hipster movement that seems to have originated in Portland, of all places. The premise is that Gen Y and those whose talents are no longer appreciated have abandoned the lure of tech internships that may eventually lead to a low salary in ten years. Citizens have walked away from the idea that New York, Toronto, Washington and Los Angeles are the only places on earth to purchase property (or, rather, rent at suicidal monthly rates). Comrades have chosen Portland as a place to come together, take back the heavy-duty sewing machine, wipe off the grease from abandoned motors, and start crafting authentic, low-production goods for people who appreciate materials that were de rigeur before plastic became our mantra.

My past few purchases have not been inexpensive, nor have they been simple. Toronto is far from the Pacific West, which means that USPS has become a pusher for my material needs. First it was a key fob and Leica-style camera strap from Tanner Goods. Then came a straight razor strop from horse hide arrived from Bison,  a suit bag from Seattle-based Filson, and a mint green, leather knife roll from Butcher and Baker. Before I knew it I found myself surrounded by beautiful materials that made me feel more connected to the items I used. They key idea is that I use all of these items in an almost religious manner. I appreciate the feel of the strop; the look of the simple key fob as it rests in my hand or dangles from the ignition of my Ducati Monster.  My desire to use an item often means that I must take the time to pack my clothes for a trip in lieu of rolling them into a ball, and I need to spend ten minutes sharpening my straight razor on the strop before I even get to the bathroom sink for shaving. I have become mindful and present. I am in the moment as the material serves as a catalyst for an intellectual slowing down of my time. Time has become precious.

Kiriko Two

Yesterday’s post brought me two scarfs and a pocket square from Portland-based Kiriko. I came across a few of their pieces in a small shop in Nashville’s 12 South area. The deep indigo colours and Japanese fabrics caught my attention immediately. Since travelling to Japan a few years ago, I realize the unique tension in fabric and foreign colour palette that are signature to Japan. A week ago I came across a Boro-style scarf online and fell in love with the contrasting indigo/floral pattern. I ordered the scarf which is made from Japanese heirloom fabrics, a Kimono striped scarf and a deep indigo pocket square. Within a few days all arrived in uniquely gorgeous packaging, and I now had items that I know will be with me through a great many made adventures, adding points of style to what can be a bleak world.

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There may have also been an impulse need to purchase a NATO-style watchband from Worn&Wound, a purveyor and reviewer of watch ephemera. You see, Old Sport, I inherited more than my fair share of beat up, broken down watches from my father upon his death this past summer. I never wear a watch. I hate having things on my wrists. I care little what the time is. But…this black strap sang a siren song: rebuild the watch the Chinese restaurant owner gave your father when he was a young boy. Mystery surrounds this watch, and it is a relic of my father’s imagination that I remember since my own birth.

It has no intrinsic value in the metals or craftsmanship. The watch must be hand-wound on a daily basis. I am still unsure whether it will even keep time. The point is that I have chosen to take a piece back from the landfill, ignore that my iPhone keeps perfect time, and live within a different reality as the Horween-produced leather strap hugs a piece of metal tightly to my wrist that once belonged to men I  should have known better. Perhaps it serves as a talisman to make sure I know those who follow me better than those who came before.

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My day starts, and will end, with an espresso and slice of molten chocolate cake inspired by our dinner at Montreal’s Joe Beef this past weekend.  My version uses up the wide variety of aging chocolate that filled my cupboard, blooming and losing its sheen. I would like to think that the French pan adds more beauty to the cake, than the skillet ours was served in at the restaurant. The flavours are dead on, the texture is perfect…now if I only had a soft serve ice cream machine that could spit out perfect peppermint-infused dollops of ice milk, then I would be king.

You Ate What?: Death by Food and Wine in Portland

Yes, one can eat too much. Yes. I have eaten too much. Yes, I am about to die from too much great food and wine, but, no, I do not regret a single moment of it. Food is one of those things that shape who we are, literally. I know that puritans insist that calories are murder, that fat is a sin, that flavour is not as important as fibre, and that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels…but they obviously are not foodies with an appreciation for the fact that the great food is worth the ups and downs on the scale. I would rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints. There will always be time to repair the damage with exercise and detox.

The past two weeks on the road have not shown me one single mediocre meal. Not a single misplaced bit of food, and nothing that was not perfectly prepared and sustainable; farm to table and artisanal. Still, I feel like an orca whale about to birth a fleet of Moby Dicks with one slip of step. Why? Certainly not from junk food, because I have not had a single junk meal in two weeks. I put it down to a lack of sleep, water retention from travel, and the fact that I am eating deeply from the menu when I do have a chance to eat.

Yes, I fully understand that if I were to eat lettuce instead of pork belly, then I might live a little longer, fit into the most sought after clothing, and fit in at “that” club, but frankly the food I have eaten has made me appreciate the beauty in the world that could provide such a wide variety of foodstuffs. Tonight had me at SouthPark Seafood Grill in Portland, and it was another meal to remember from the Portland visit. While others opted for the fish, I went with a crab cake followed by the butcher’s choice of pork belly and shoulder on a bed of kale and corn polenta. The flavours were rich, clean and live with intensity. Against the bottle of white Pinot Noir, the whole meal moved along nicely and took the edge off the fact that I have not slept well for three nights.

Before hitting the restaurant, I had the good luck to make it up to Portland’s Tanner Goods shop just a few blocks from The Heathman. I appreciate the quality of leather that will last and wear well into my lifetime, and Tanner’s selection of products immediately resonated with me. In fact, I was able to acquire the exact type of fob I had been looking for to attach my Ducati key to so that it would not mar the carbon fibre around the ignition.

The Leica M3 also has been begging for a richly appointed strap, and Tanner made a beautiful version that should would nicely without causing any damage to the lugs over time. I cannot wait to attach the body to the strap when I return to Toronto in a few days.

Lastly, I was able to procure a gift for V. that hopefully will meet with her expectations. When we were in San Francisco she was in love with a wrist strap from Tory Birch, but the leather quality left me cold. Tanner Goods produces a similar, but higher quality piece that I hope V. will like. One never knows…

Sooo…one more day and night in Portland. Tomorrow I move hotels to head to the Jupiter Hotel on the other side of the river. If all goes well, then I will sleep, do some work for the workshop and make my way over the bridge to see how the “hipper” side lives. I will probably prefer The Heathman, but this last night is on my own coin so that I do not need to take the red-eye out with my colleagues, and a change of scene before I get home should be nice. The question is whether I can possibly ingest any more of what Portland has to offer? I have been attempting to capture a few of the bridges and scenes with my Hasselblad SWC camera while using my iPhone and the PocketMeter app to save space in my carry-on; we will have to see if it is accurate enough to be trusted.

With two bottles of Pinot  Noir for my “cellar”, I am at the end of my wine tether, my food possibilities and my rope. One can only hope that sleep will find me and deliver me from the evil of those Voodoo Donuts that were so damn yummy – oh, I guess they were the one junk food that passed my lips – fair enough, and worth every bite. The juicing will begin again upon arrival to my studio…beets, ginger and celery should start the detox!