The Toj "Uncontrol Rider" started out as a joke made by the designer of clothing brand Toj, Drew Keith.
I spent like 5 hrs thinking about the Uncontrol option while I was in and out of the house, and I know what your grail leather looks like dude; I’m half ready just to make your grail leather for about $1000, though I don’t know what snake costs, I could be fucking myself there. I was thinking fox or water beaver for the fur, snake small trim around all the pockets, maybe some [leather lacing], it’d be the Uncontrol option.
When he refers to my "grail leather", he means this Schorl model I was lusting after:
However, it was out of season and impossible to find. I had posted a lot in the official Toj thread, obnoxiously about hypothetical buys, but in the end both Drew and I knew that his typical offerings were perhaps too conservative for me. Back then, anyway – now is another story. In the end, the joke became serious, and we started discussing the options for the jacket.
We started with this photoshop mock-up made by me:
It's fairly remarkable how similar the end result is to this mock-up ...
The basis of this jacket was the already-existing "Minimalist Double Rider". The alterations I made were:
- snakeskin details
- fur collar
- leather tassels at wrist zippers
- front compass pocket (taken from DR Vest design)
And ... well, the ball just sort of started rolling. In the end, Drew purchased a complete anaconda hide for the project. Because of the excess material, he was able to really add it everywhere.
And antique Japanese conchos:
My style has changed a lot since I first received it ...
... but it's incredible enough to stand on its own, no matter how much I change.
It's hard to talk about this jacket without mentioning the incredible level of quality. While my jacket was significantly more expensive due to the custom details, Drew's leather jackets float around $800, which is incredible when you compare it to mid and high-end designer alternatives. When the iPhone 4 came out, people talked about the high density "retina display" ruining their eyes for other, lesser displays. The lamb leather Drew uses is the retina display of leathers.
He once remarked that he found a Tom Ford leather jacket that was roughly $10,000 using the same leather. It's soft in the way a nice blanket is soft, giving in to the touch, but it also carries with it the characteristic roughness of an animal's hide. The grain of the flesh is still visible. As the jacket is worn, it stretches and folds, and it becomes better with each day.
It's possible that I'll never know how Drew truly feels about this piece. It certainly goes against the vision of his brand, which is all about fairly classic items being re-interpreted with a contemporary sense and high quality materials. He's remarked before about custom jobs that he was not entirely pleased with. However, he also told me that he and his team spent a bit of time admiring this piece before mailing it off to me. Regardless of stylistic preferences, the Uncontrol Rider is an incredible achievement based solely on its materials alone. Plus, it comes with a story worth telling.
I hope Drew knows just how fondly I feel about the whole endeavour, and I hope he's happy with it too, despite me being a fairly annoying prick through the process – a feeling many Toj customers probably feel in hindsight. He's an incredible man who built a brand out of nothing but a passion for making cool things. Surely, the future is promising for him.
As for me, I hope to carry this jacket with me for a long time.