RPMWEST: Japanese Selvedge Denim

RPMWEST makes classic denim in the truest sense. Crafted from premium Japanese dry selvedge denim and cut and sewn in California, they are built to last for years and will develop unique fades as they break in and age. Birthed on Kickstarter, RPMWEST is growing into a unique and quality-driven brand.

The jeans feature minimal detailing, giving them a timeless look that goes with everything,  and are built for hard wear. Features include tucked belt loops, ​chain stitched​ ​leg openings, ​and made-in-America trimmings. They come in two silhouettes, slim and straight leg fit.

The slim fit – which we tested – is lightly tapered, but not constricting. As with many of these small batch, high quality denim brands, the jeans come in a fixed length, meaning you either do the hipster turn-up or have them hemmed to your preference. Taken in full, the feel is classic denim, combined with a modern, thoughtful design.

The fit of our RPMWEST jeans is very comfortable and features a natural waist with a lower rise; something we like. And the pride and commitment to quality construction shows in the finished product. Overall, these are one comfortable pair of jeans that we plan to wear for a long time.

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Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

DSC 0543 Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

Handmade and totally unique, Da Luca watchstraps are one of a kind. Sourced from new and vintage leathers, they are equal parts  investment and a celebration of craftsmanship. Each watch strap is one of a kind – literally. Every one of this San Diego-based company’s watch straps is an individual creation, never to be duplicated. While there are certain styles and patterns used as guideposts, each Da Luca watch strap is its own singular creation and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

That’s one thing that makes our Cabrone strap so special. At 22mm wide, it perfectly fits our 44mm vintage pilot-inspired mechanical timepiece from Avier, the micro brand founded by Jeff Bernard, of Bernard Watch. Crafted from American alligator, the strap is thick and substantial, balancing the watch and creating a harmonious sense of scale and proportion.

DSC 05482 Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch StrapsThe skin is finished in a slightly dulled gloss that highlights the exceptional detail while keeping the look elegantly subdued, instead of flashy.  Stitching is self-colored to maintain the simple, uniform  design.

The clasp is polished silver of a Panarai design and includes the small Da Luca hallmark; the only visible concession to branding on the entire strap.

In appearance and execution, Da Luca watch straps are a great alternative to the often generic options out there. Our strap has begun to break in nicely and is comfortable to wear. Because it is such a thick watch strap, it’s going to take a little while to soften up, but that’s fine. The length is just right – not too short or too long – and the keeper holds the strap snugly in place.

Da Luca sources their leathers from some pretty unusual places. In addition to traditional virgin leathers, their line of Vintage straps come from old bomber jackets, ammunition pouches, belts, and even worn out shoes. The worn-in nature of such leathers makes perfect sense and the one-of-a-kind production model means that these limited sources are not a problem. To the contrary, such a dearth of unique and interesting materials and finishes adds the the brand’s cache and value. While not inexpensive, the Cabrone went for US $180.00; for what you get, it’s a fair price indeed.

In addition to its ready-to-wear straps, the company can also craft you a made to order watch strap. You can choose the type of skin, width, length, and even the strap’s thickness. Da Luca also offers a variety of other strap styles, including some amazing and colorful suede NATO straps, belts, and a selection of small leather accessories.

While we don’t say this too often, companies like Da Luca straps are one of the reasons we founded OTC to begin with. Total commitment to their craft, a dedication to excellence and quality, made in America, and products that live up to the expectation. Such companies should be celebrated, and that’s what we do.

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Belt One Out With ntandy

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Too often belts are a serious business that must meet the daily requirements of understatement, sobriety, or at least a degree of conformity. The good thing is that when you sit back and take a look, there are many occasions when you can loosen up your wardrobe choices, put away the earth tones, and have some sartorial fun.

ntandy makes great belts for those times. Especially in the warmth of summer, these colorful and simply designed belts add some unmistakable personality while still holding up your pants. The great thing about them, at least from an OTC perspective, is that they happily straddle the line between outright fun and preppy functionality.

While they clearly reference a purposeful and utilitarian past, they also are just plain cool belts that speak to founder Napper Tandy’s laid back California lifestyle. It’s like Ivy League guy meets surfer dude, and they totally get along.

ntnady Logo Belt One Out With ntandyThe belts come in five colors and are all made from old-school nylon board short material wrapped around 1000 pound test nylon climbing webbing. The simple contrast stitching adds just the right amount of vintage charm.

As Napper describes his belts, “I like to think they’re aesthetically part Birdwell Beach Britches, part 70’s Patagonia with a little nip off the flask of the old prep school ribbon belt”

Worn traditionally, the belt’s loose end hides ntandy’s cool minimalist label. However, Napper’s got you covered; click here to learn the “triple fold” and let your inner preppy beach bum shine.

Seriously, we test out all sorts of stuff here at OTC and without question, this simple, fun, functional, and plain old cool belt is a hands-down favorite.

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The Shorts of Summer: Old Bull Lee

204 laydown The Shorts of Summer: Old Bull Lee

The last time we told you about Old Bull Lee, we made it clear that their shorts were some of our absolute favorites. Lee is committed to make the best shorts possible and approaches his craft as both an artist and technician. They were perfect.

It turns out he’s not done.

Lee sent along some of his new and improved shorts and we have spent the last month checking them out.  They are a bit shorter and trimmer, but still the built-to-last quality we remember. First, some details on the material and build.

The shorts are made from heavy Duck cloth, which is essentially canvas. Sourced from the finest Japanese mill (he won’t divulge exactly which one), the fabric starts out a bit stiff, but eases into a comfortable, personalized fit.

They are dyed and assembled in America using a wet “vat” process that is softer and longer lasting than dry pigment dying. The pocketing and waistband are made from a soft and smooth poplin and the button fly has been replaced with a zipper. Lastly, the shorts are pre-shrunk using water and dryers only, not chemical shrinkage.

205 laydown The Shorts of Summer: Old Bull LeeAs Lee likes to point out, everyone is trying to sell “your favorite pair of shorts,” but the truth is that it doesn’t work that way. The ones that come, “brand new, but lived in,” have actually been beat into that condition by chemicals. As a result, these pre-lived-in garments often start to disintegrate after a season or two; and not eloquently either.

A real favorite pair shorts has been around for a while. They just sort of know your body; it’s a relationship that takes time to develop. Because the Duck fabric lasts so long, they gave the color a little extra pop so that down the road when they are broken in, the short will still carry those fragile tones with which they started.

In fact, to accurately convey the fabric’s eventual color change, the website’s laydown shots are intentionally dull. Lee said, “it’s not to be misleading, but we feel that we are telling the truth by averaging the color out over it’s lifetime.

This guy lives and breaths shorts. They do pretty cool tees as well, but at it’s heart, Old Bull Lee is trying to turn shorts into a science.

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The J. Panther RollTote

 

jplc rolltote all 1024x1024 The J. Panther RollToteJ. Panther Luggage Company is a maker of classically modern American crafted bags. We have been fans of this brand for some time and still consider the original Courier Ruc to be one of the most innovative business bags to hit the boardroom.

The company’s portfolio is deliberately small and thoughtful. the collection represents a true balance among form and function, design and purpose, practicality and aesthetic. It is also a brand that successfully blends hipster cool with heritage sensibility.  It is one of the few bag makers that creates products which are forward-thinking while at the same time beholden to a craftsman’s hand. New but sort of vintage; modern but also timeless. Regardless of the stylistic lens through which you view J. Panther bags, that all built to take excessive abuse and in doing so, get better and better.

J. Panther’s new RollTote is a perfect example of this philosophy.

The signature three-way carry RollTote brings modern functionality, and a touch of refinement, to the classic, utilitarian roll-top backpack. To the standard Ruc Tote mode they have added two additional, flexible carry options.  Removable, adjustable leather shoulder straps attach via an ‘O’ ring for ruc (backpack)carry. Re-attach one of these straps across the top of the bag for tote-style use. A leather side handle offers the third option of hand carry.

J. Panther’s signature 21 ounce lightly waxed, water-resistant canvas works with the RollTote’s design to handle even the heaviest downpour. This heavy cotton canvas ages beautifully and the sturdy leather trim ads a functionally elegant finish to the bag.

Fully rolled down, the twin external pockets are protected from the elements, be it a rain storm or snow flurry.  Within, a single deep pocket neatly separates a laptop or documents from the roomy main compartment.

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