Craighill

For years, yours truly has grappled with keychain designs of less than practical dimensions. Many of us know the nearly ubiquitous circle as an antagonist to fingernails. Removing or inserting keys is an exercise in masochism.

The other popular option is a spring latch system. My experience has been that, over time, the latch weakens and begins to separate, causing keys to begin slipping out.

That’s whhy, when I discovered Craighill’s closed helix keychain, I was immediately smitten. It’s an ingenious design–innovative, easy to use and aesthetically inspiring. A little work of art, in fact.

The chain itself–1/8″ stainless steel wire–is shaped like a crossed ribbon. One of the ends is removable, enabling the keys to be slipped on effortlessly. The wire is made in Cicero, Ill., while the ends are made in Cleveland, Ohio.; the combined package is finished in Craighill’s New York workshop.

It represents, in my humble estimation, the apotheosis of keychain design.

The keychain is one of several metal objects Craighill sells, all, to my knowledge, made in the United States. Craighill traffics in the kind of small objects that transform the quotidian into the divine; several are on my wish list.

Freenote Cloth

They probably didn’t intend me to wear their clothes like this.

Although Freenote Cloth touts itself as “a classic menswear collection manufactured exclusively in the United States,” it has a somewhat different view than we do of what constitutes classic.

Its collection suggests a rugged, rural Americana that is rooted in classic concepts of workwear.

Not that we can’t appreciate a fine piece of workwear ourselves. But our perspective hews a little more to the patrician side of the classic spectrum.

Still, a few of the shirts they make have nestled their way into my wardrobe: button ups in heavy cotton khaki and navy wool and a blue and cream striped t-shirt. And, despite our differences in approach, they are among my favorites. Each has a subtle nod to classic pieces from yesteryear, with a kind of louche, insouciant styling characteristic of Hollywood in the 1940s.

Freenote was founded by brothers Matt and Andrew Brodrick and is located in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano, California.

And I think they’re really on to something. They’ve devised a series of American made collections with a truly ecumenical appeal. The kind of clothing that can go from ranch to cocktails without missing a beat.