One Year Later: Wassookeag Moccasins

Last Christmas, I received a pair of Wassookeag Moccasins–the lined triple sole canoe moc in deerskin. The passing of time gives us a chance to revisit that purchase and catch a glimpse into how well the shoes have held up.

In a word, they’ve performed splendidly. Over the course of the year, they’ve molded to the contours of my feet. They’ve been worn both in domestic situations and for outings near and far. And, deployed on several dozen occasions, they’ve shown no sign of succumbing to wear and tear.

In the more than a year and a half that we’ve been at this, Frannie and I have been privileged to learn about so many companies, large and small, contributing to a renaissance of American manufacturing.

Among those, Dexter, Maine’s Wassookeag Moccasins (an exemplary example of dedication to craftsmanship) has a special place. Their moccasins can be made with a variety of leathers and colors and, because the shoes aren’t produced until you order them, they can accommodate people with different sized feet (like yours truly) without any additional charge.

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One year and going strong!

Manready Mercantile and American Trench

In earlier posts, we’ve sung the praises of both Manready Mercantile and American Trench.

Manready Mercantile is quickly becoming something of a national institution. Located on 19th street in the Houston Heights, it has made a commitment to stocking expertly curated American made clothing and accessories.

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Frannie perusing the American made goods at Houston’s Manready Mercantile

Happily, one of the brands Manready stocks is American Trench. As we’ve indicated before, American Trench had its beginnings in a desire to manufacture outerwear in the United States; within a few years, it expanded beyond its initial line of trench coats. Its socks are of particular note–things of true beauty with a dedication to pattern and color that is rare among American made men’s hosiery.

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A box of American Trench socks for sale at Manready Mercantile

I purchased a pair in navy and tan cotton houndstooth–sold out on the American Trench website. I’m a sucker for a good houndstooth, and these are a sterling example.

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Save Khaki United

The name is a bit of a misnomer. But it’s an enticing one, particularly for those of us with a passion for classic modes of dress.

Save Khaki United is a producer and retailer of men’s sportswear with a fairly minimalist aesthetic–all of which is manufactured in the United States. In the company’s own words, “Save Khaki United (is) a men’s lifestyle brand of contemporary American sportswear emphasizing comfort & fit.”

The company was established in 2006 by David Mullen, a retail veteran with significant production experience at a variety of clothing giants, including Banana Republic.

Despite the company’s name, not everything it sells leans completely toward the classics. But a number of items would fit well in a classic wardrobe.

This past summer, I bought my son a nautical striped Save Khaki t-shirt for his birthday. He speaks well of it and has worn it semi-religiously ever since.

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TCEC/Zulily

There are times when we bump into made in the USA goods whose provenance we know next to nothing about. A recent purchase is illustrative.

Frannie recently received a dress from the website Zulily, which has made a commitment to stocking a variety of American made items.

It’s a classic shift dress in a vibrant but tasteful pattern, manufactured under the TCEC label.

A cursory web search for TCEC reveals two things: (1) Very little produced by TCEC could reasonably be construed as classic and (2) Much of TCEC’s clothing is made overseas.

Happily, this dress is the exception.

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Vintage Misty Harbor Trench Coat

The sky today was nearly as dark as cast iron, a cold front blowing in from the plains. So it was the perfect occasion to hail out my Misty Harbor trench coat. I picked it up this summer, a bit of thrift store treasure, and it got its first serious workout today.

I know absolutely nothing about the company, save that they once were a fairly significant producer of outerwear in the United States. Frannie has a vintage Misty Harbor field coat, also American made.

As with many companies, Misty Harbor has gone the way of the dodo, although thrift stores are filled with reminders of its once proud history.

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Ike Behar Ties

This morning, after donning an American made Ike Behar tie, I pondered how we’ve managed to go this long without giving that company a mention.

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After all, Ike Behar is one of the holy trinity of American made ties. Together with Brooks Brothers and Hickey Freeman, they represent a sizable percentage of the neckwear produced in this country.

However, I’ve long had something of an ambivalent relationship with Ike Behar’s ties. While some have caught my fancy, I’ve found the quality in some of their other ties wanting. A satin houndstooth tie, for example, quickly developed problems with its lining and became unwearable.

Yet I still have a couple in my neckwear arsenal. The particular tie I wore today is a woven dark green with light blue, gray and cream stripes–a very nice tie in both design and construction.

Ike Behar makes a wide range of menswear, although the ties are one of the few–if not the only–items still made in the USA.

American Trench

Several of the companies we’ve featured got their start when they noticed a gap in the marketplace: Mo’s Bows when young Moziah Bridges couldn’t find a bow tie to his liking, Freeman when Scott and Brittany Freeman couldn’t find a decent American made rain jacket and Boardroom Socks when its founders had trouble finding a domestically produced pair of conservative dress socks.

Add to those American Trench.

In 2009, Jacob Hurwitz and David Neill began a three year journey to craft an American made trench coat. Inspired by a trench they found in England, they were convinced that a trench coat of similar quality could be made on these shores.

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, in 2012, they began offering their eponymous trench coat. It’s made of navy cotton Ventile fabric with a glen check lining.

As I already own two trench coats, one a vintage made in American Misty Harbor model, I’m not currently in the market for one. But I was inspired to learn that American Trench has branched out into other items, socks in particular.

Yes, ladies and gents, I’m a sucker for a good pair of socks, and American Trench offers a number of vividly patterned and colored versions, all of which are made in Pennsylvania. I took particular note of their socks in Fair Isle patterns, which are a particular favorite of mine.

Yesterday’s mail delivery brought these American Trench socks into my sartorial orbit. A combination of merino, cashmere, angora, nylon and viscose, they’ve already carved out a place among my favorite socks.

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A Chambray and Khaki Day

Today was, according to the thermometer, the first real autumnal day we’ve experienced this season. It was not quite cool enough for a sweater, so I donned a chambray shirt (from Flint and Tinder) and a pair of sturdy khaki trousers (from Jack Donnelly), both made in America.

The khakis from Jack Donnelly deserve special attention. They’re slim without being tight, with a rise that’s significantly higher than most of today’s narrower trousers–more in line with the higher waisted trousers at the apex of the Ivy look in the early 1960s. It’s safe to say that they’re among my favorite trousers–and for good reason.

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Boardroom Socks

Regular readers of these pages will know that my sock interests tend to the more vibrantly colored and patterned. But there are times when, by necessity, a man’s hosiery must hew toward the soporific end of the spectrum.

Boardroom Socks are an ideal choice in those situations. Conservative in palette but exceptionally well constructed, they are a fitting choice for the big meeting, for an interview or for an evening semi-formal event.

Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, the company has been a going concern for a scant five years.

A few weeks ago, at The Young Men’s Shop in Charlottesville, Va., I picked up a pair of these–a charcoal gray merino wool pair with red dots. Conservative? Yes. But the red dots give them a bit more elan than you’d normally find in standard men’s dress socks.

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Alden, Alas!

Take a moment. Look down. Notice your feet. Consider their shape, their length, their  symmetry.

Revel for this moment in that privilege. For yours is an experience radically different than my own.

I was, at birth, burdened with a club foot, the most common  congenital birth defect. While surgical interventions in early childhood did a serviceable job of correcting what nature imposed, the end result was two feet of decidedly different dimensions–a full size and a half difference, to be precise.

So when it comes time to purchase footwear, my options are far more constrained than most. For most of my life, I’ve simply laced the left shoe a bit tighter. Although not the ideal solution, it’s worked well enough.

Still, I have a soft spot in my heart for loafers, despite their impracticality in my condition.  And recently I’ve developed a covetous relationship with the Alden tassel loafer.

It’s a true American classic. And only the Alden version will do. After all, Alden was said to have invented the tassel loafer.

So I wrote Alden, asking if they could make a pair with two different sizes.

My inquiry was brusquely rebuffed. They were willing neither to cobble together a proper fitting duo from existing pairs nor to accept a custom order for different size feet, even for a modest additional fee that most other shoe makers charge. The only solution was to purchase two pair–for the princely sum of more than $1,000, a price simply too dear.

My only hope is that Alden will reverse course and embrace the imperative to assist those of us whose foot challenges result from disability. The alternative–serving as the Scrooge of the shoe world–is, over time, an untenable business practice.