New interview with KMW is now up - pictures of new products (see the leather goods)

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by LA Guy, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. Jay-D

    Jay-D Affiliate Vendor Affiliate Vendor

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    OK, I will defer from further comments until the day I handle it in person.
    I do understand the extra cost involved in having to import the items from Japan, not to mentioned the brand itself and the retailer need to make a living as well.

    Although I do have a few questions I hope you can help me with:
    * The leather was from the US. Did they ship it to Japan as a natural skirting hide or in the wet form to be processed?
    How much processing did the workshops in Japan actually do?
    * What type of vegetable tannage was used? What kind of bark or mix of plant products? How long was it tanned for? Pit or drum tanned?
    * How thick is the leather?
    * What kind of feel or quality would you say differentiates it from the other Japanese processed bridle leather from Red Moon, Kawatako, etc...
    * Would you care to expand on the 'ancient' techniques?
    I would have thought most of the processing of vegetable tanned leather has been figured out hundreds if not thousands of years ago...
    Sure, you could call it hand-currying or manual processing, but the term 'ancient techniques' doesn't actually tell me, the consumer, anything at all.


    I have to tell you my 15 oz, 12 months English oak-tan belt at $70 will easily last more than 5 years, very easily.
    The leather quality, at it's base, is also much higher than any 2 months mixed bark tan can ever be.
    Assuming belts below $100 to $200 to have less durability doesn't really make sense - it's especially hard to compare between the price offered by the craftsmen/workshop and the price at retail.


    Mike, you ask a lot of tough questions here that really only the designer can answer. The tanning process KMW uses I have not been totally schooled on as of yet. A lot of these types of questions are kind of trade secrets, or at least not easy to get a straight forward answer. We will have much more information about the processing by the time we have them in store. I made my decision to stock the belt from seeing it in person and feeling the weight of the belt, seeing the stitch details and gerth of the buckle, and feeling the leather and the edges. It is a great belt and understand the price point and I feel it is priced accurately.

    I do know the leather is English bridle from USA, Texas I believe. The hide is hand selected as natural hide (still has hair on skins) and then shipped to Japan where it is worked on in the tannery and in the workshop. Not sure about starting thickness of the leather, but after being tanned and oiled the leather is approximately 5mm thick.

    As for price range in belts, yes of course you can find a great belt in that range and a $150 belt from Sugar Cane or a $265 belt from Samurai or a $75 belt from Tanner will be great belts worth the price and durable. You are right, it is hard to compare craftsmanship. I have not set this KMW belt beside other brands yet to breakdown exact quality differences, but going from my memory and knowledge of other labels I can see that the KMW belt is quality and a belt I personally want to own. I will analyze this much closer when we have them in store in February.

    This seems like a pretty dishonest conclusion. Most belts at $120 dollars are not going to fall apart on you after a few years. There is a certain point where the "quality" of the item goes beyond what is practical and extends into pure decadence. This is fine, there's definitely a place for those items, but to say this "pays for itself" when compared to three solid $120 belts seems dishonest, especially since it's ignoring the fact that being able to diversify your look with multiple belts has clear advantages over owning a single belt.

    Sorry if it sounds like I am being dishonest. I am just saying if you are trying to rationalize the purchase for a $300 plus belt, something to think about. It is a good quality belt and I feel it is worth the price.

    Diversification is obviously a good thing, but if you can afford to add a $300 + belt to your wardrobe or you happen to find one of these belts at a discount it is one that should be considered.

    hey jay.

    are you getting the kmw belts in feb still? are the ones you ordered spoken for? if not, what colors will you have left in size 36? thanks.


    I am only stocking the natural color and have size 36 available. I am still able to pre-order items other colors as well as KMW had additional pieces made. The other colors are dark brown and a lighter brown.
     
  2. whatever123

    whatever123 Senior member

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    okay, thanks jay. i will e-mail you a little closer to feb to figure out how to get one.
     
  3. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    P.S. When you talk of the feel and finish, what are it's qualities that differentiate it from your Samurai belt? Which Samurai belt were you comparing it to? (They have stuff done in different leathers by KC's, Kawatako, etc at different price ranges and quality.)


    The Samurai belts I was comparing them to were those that I saw at Blue in Green, and that retailed from about $200 to about $265. The leather of the KMW belt looked much more "oiled" - you can tell me the term, and the beveling at the edges was noticieably better. The Samurai belts were held together by chicago screws, while the KMW belt is stitched. The underside of the KMW belt looks a lot more finished. The brass buckle of the KMW looks significantly more finished than the pewter buckle of the Samurai belt as well. I was struck by the KMW belt the moment I first saw it (I saw it in person at a tradeshow long before I saw it online.) I can't say the same of the Samurai belt.

    The only other belts that have struck me as much on first sight are belts by MA+ and CCP, but the KMW belt has the distinction of looking great while being really, pretty simple.

    I have a dark brown one, and a new very well worn one in "natural."

    I expect that the premium paid for low minimums, especially for the custom buckles, figures a lot into the price. Are they worth it? For me, they were (actually, they were both gifts, but I have paid as much or more for belts, and I'd fork out for these ones.) But YMMV.

    As with all things, it's not possible to justify the price of luxury goods based on material or construction costs. There are simply too many people to pay along the way. And yes, you could definitely get a better deal if you went straight to the manufacturer. But then I'd be playing designer, and I can tell you that if I had to wear just stuff that I'd designed, I'd be a very bored guy.
     
  4. whatever123

    whatever123 Senior member

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    i own a samurai belt. like fok, i thought the leather on the kmw was noticeably better. but then again i dont know how the kmw was tanned, where it was tanned, what area it came from, etc. but i can say, to me, it felt of a higher quality compared to my samurai curve belt. the buckle was more substantial as well. i actually prefer the c-screws on the samurai belt but that is just a personal preference.
     
  5. entrero

    entrero Senior member

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    I do know the leather is English bridle from USA, Texas I believe. The hide is hand selected as natural hide (still has hair on skins) and then shipped to Japan where it is worked on in the tannery and in the workshop.
    Few corrections:
    What you're saying is contradictory. "Bridle leather" means it's a finished end product, a hide is the starting point which after a lot of steps can be anything from harness, bridle, normal veg tan etc.

    That buckle is an amazing piece. I'd be set for life when I get one.
     
  6. whatever123

    whatever123 Senior member

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    Few corrections: What you're saying is contradictory. "Bridle leather" means it's a finished end product, a hide is the starting point which after a lot of steps can be anything from harness, bridle, normal veg tan etc. That buckle is an amazing piece. I'd be set for life when I get one.
    here dude. scroll down to the second paragraph. http://blueowlworkshop.blogspot.com/...ring-2011.html
     
  7. mikecch

    mikecch Senior member

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    This is going to be fun!
    Mike, you ask a lot of tough questions here that really only the designer can answer. The tanning process KMW uses I have not been totally schooled on as of yet. A lot of these types of questions are kind of trade secrets, or at least not easy to get a straight forward answer. We will have much more information about the processing by the time we have them in store. I made my decision to stock the belt from seeing it in person and feeling the weight of the belt, seeing the stitch details and gerth of the buckle, and feeling the leather and the edges. It is a great belt and understand the price point and I feel it is priced accurately. I do know the leather is English bridle from USA, Texas I believe. The hide is hand selected as natural hide (still has hair on skins) and then shipped to Japan where it is worked on in the tannery and in the workshop. Not sure about starting thickness of the leather, but after being tanned and oiled the leather is approximately 5mm thick. As for price range in belts, yes of course you can find a great belt in that range and a $150 belt from Sugar Cane or a $265 belt from Samurai or a $75 belt from Tanner will be great belts worth the price and durable. You are right, it is hard to compare craftsmanship. I have not set this KMW belt beside other brands yet to breakdown exact quality differences, but going from my memory and knowledge of other labels I can see that the KMW belt is quality and a belt I personally want to own. I will analyze this much closer when we have them in store in February.
    Thanks for the feedback. Haha, I know a lot of the questions I ask are tough ones and many are trade 'secrets' (don't know why so secretive, but oh well). But I have to say the more open and precise you can be with your product specifications, the more likely leather freaks like me will buy it. If only the designer or craftsmen will know the details, I as the user and hobbyist will make every effort to find out; I would certainly appreciate a store that could do this for their customers [​IMG] Just a quick note though, if the leather is shipped as 'wet' rawhide to a Japanese tannery to be processed, then it is not English bridle from the USA. This is a good thing, as most English-style bridle manufactured in the USA are not comparable to the work done by the English or Japanese. The leather on this KMW belt is therefore American steerhide that has been processed and tanned in Japan as a 12.5 oz English-style bridle leather. Only bridle leather from England can be called English bridle. That said I have a pretty good idea which tannery is doing the leather on this KMW belt. I think one important thing we need to note is that comparing a belt to brands like Sugar Cane, Samurai, etc can get misleading. Leather items demand a higher premium in Japan than most of the Western world. These denim brands will market their leather as coming from USA or UK to fetch a premium on domestic leather products. Then, after the denim craze begun, Western retailers began importing these brands into US, UK, etc - adding another layer of cost to the consumer... Guys, if you live in the UK or US, you're living in the land of great quality leather, don't forget that! Within your country are older craftsmen from whom the Japanese originally learnt the trade secrets. IMO, if you buy a premium Japanese belt in the UK or US, you're buying it as a luxury item and paying for the 'made in Japan' factor - can't really justify the cost any other way. I look forward to your feedback and analysis when you have this belt on hand.
    The Samurai belts I was comparing them to were those that I saw at Blue in Green, and that retailed from about $200 to about $265. The leather of the KMW belt looked much more "oiled" - you can tell me the term, and the beveling at the edges was noticieably better. The Samurai belts were held together by chicago screws, while the KMW belt is stitched. The underside of the KMW belt looks a lot more finished. The brass buckle of the KMW looks significantly more finished than the pewter buckle of the Samurai belt as well. I was struck by the KMW belt the moment I first saw it (I saw it in person at a tradeshow long before I saw it online.) I can't say the same of the Samurai belt. The only other belts that have struck me as much on first sight are belts by MA+ and CCP, but the KMW belt has the distinction of looking great while being really, pretty simple. I have a dark brown one, and a new very well worn one in "natural." I expect that the premium paid for low minimums, especially for the custom buckles, figures a lot into the price. Are they worth it? For me, they were (actually, they were both gifts, but I have paid as much or more for belts, and I'd fork out for these ones.) But YMMV. As with all things, it's not possible to justify the price of luxury goods based on material or construction costs. There are simply too many people to pay along the way. And yes, you could definitely get a better deal if you went straight to the manufacturer. But then I'd be playing designer, and I can tell you that if I had to wear just stuff that I'd designed, I'd be a very bored guy.
    Yes, I have to say the belts Samurai have been getting made these past years have been less than impressive. Their older belts, or their higher priced belts done by Kawatako, are much more impressive in both leather quality and construction. I certainly would not buy Samurai's belt at even their Japanese retail price - but I'm hardcore nerding on these things [​IMG] I have to say one cannot judge the quality of the leather by weight or 'oiliness' alone. One needs to have a basic understanding of the different tannages and secondary processing techniques, and then evaluating the leather within it's own type and framework. That's why it was often very frustrating for me when buying Japanese leather goods - they are so secretive about their leather, often using generic phrases or 'magical' terms, that it becomes difficult in comparing different brands. There is always personal preference to rely on, but that doesn't fully develop until you've worked through a few different leathers of different tannages and finishes. I think a common misconception amongst Western retailers of Japanese-style leather goods is that the more oils in the leather the better (I don't know who told them this) - this may be true for machinery leather or for an average consumer...but for a hobbyist it is actually preferable to have a less finished leather - it may be harder to take care of, but the results you can achieve in terms of patina, colour, and grain development is much better. Certainly if a cattlehide is too much 'bridled', you will never get any considerable grain development at all. And yes, in terms of the buckle and stitching, there exists different qualities and this will be reflected in the pricing. But really, a hand-forged brass buckle and horizontal hand-stitching with natural waxed linen is nothing special - can be easily had in a belt under $100. If you really want to go all out on buckles, you can get custom-tooled sterling silver, polished hardwood, fossil/bone, art buckles with copper/brass/iron, etc, etc... But I think our taste in belts are different [​IMG] A belt for me is a medium through which I can experience and experiment with different leathers - I'm really more of a leather-nerd than a fashion monger. I do agree very much with your last statement. I just find it odd to market an Americana style work-belt as a luxury item in America; that's more for the Japanese leather nerds. Although I have to say when I get my custom belts made (where I am the designer), I don't find it boring at all.
     
  8. whatever123

    whatever123 Senior member

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    jay, im buying one from you once they come in simply because i know, without a doubt, it will be the best belt i will ever own [​IMG] ive seen it in person.
     
  9. mikecch

    mikecch Senior member

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    Few corrections: What you're saying is contradictory. "Bridle leather" means it's a finished end product, a hide is the starting point which after a lot of steps can be anything from harness, bridle, normal veg tan etc.
    Bingo. Although what makes leather bridle or harness is also the post-tan processing. There are also many variations of 'vegetable' tan, and even within a specific bark tan (let's say, English oak, birch, willow, etc) there are also lots of parameters which may affect the final product (e.g. length of tan, alterations in tanning liquor strength, whether the bark or wood or leaves were used, etc)
     
  10. entrero

    entrero Senior member

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    It's too bad they're being so secretive, since we know a great deal of Western tanning methods and some great tanning knowledge has been lost as well. I believe the tannin being used is what makes Japanese leather different. Their local/regional tannin sources are different from the West.
     
  11. mikecch

    mikecch Senior member

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    Yeah, even within a specific locality, there are usually many bark types that could be used for tannin - and they all produce different results.

    If you want some basic info. on the Japanese method of tanning, check out Tochigi Tannery's website; their tannage is usually slightly shorter, but it's high quality pit tanning.

    The real 'secret' is each tannery's or workshop's own method of hand-currying the leather after the hide has been converted - all variations of a common method, but the details make a big difference.
     
  12. Jay-D

    Jay-D Affiliate Vendor Affiliate Vendor

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    Sorry, I miss typed "bridle" and meant saddle which is the description from KMW and they claim it was shipped from USA in that state. I will try to get a little more information directly from KMW this week. They may not tell exact tannery or factory, but they shouldn't have too much problem describing the specific processes.

    Mike, your comments are pretty much right on! I really respect your knowledge in this area!
     
  13. Jay-D

    Jay-D Affiliate Vendor Affiliate Vendor

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    Yeah, even within a specific locality, there are usually many bark types that could be used for tannin - and they all produce different results.

    If you want some basic info. on the Japanese method of tanning, check out Tochigi Tannery's website; their tannage is usually slightly shorter, but it's high quality pit tanning.

    The real 'secret' is each tannery's or workshop's own method of hand-currying the leather after the hide has been converted - all variations of a common method, but the details make a big difference.


    Got a link for that tannery?
     
  14. mikecch

    mikecch Senior member

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  15. mikecch

    mikecch Senior member

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    Sorry, I miss typed "bridle" and meant saddle which is the description from KMW and they claim it was shipped from USA in that state. I will try to get a little more information directly from KMW this week. They may not tell exact tannery or factory, but they shouldn't have too much problem describing the specific processes. Mike, your comments are pretty much right on! I really respect your knowledge in this area!
    Thanks Jay-D [​IMG] I think the 'saddle' leather may refer to a natural, unfinished skirting leather. There are a few good tanneries in the US who supply skirting leather to the Japanese companies we are all familiar with, and then these companies will hire workshops to secondarily process this leather and make a belt from it. I actually get some of my belts in this unfinished form and finish the leather myself. Not professional standards by any means (far from it :p), but this allows me to alter the parameters/characteristics (to a degree) of the leather to my liking.
    Got a link for that tannery?
    Here it is, their basic process of hide conversion: http://www.tochigi-leather.co.jp/english/process.html And here is how they do it the old fashioned way in England, 12 to 13 months English oak tannage (18 months from hide conversion to finishing the leather) at Baker's in England: http://s1132.photobucket.com/albums/...nt=Tannery.mp4 Both tanneries above are one of the better tanneries in the world, would not hesitate to recommend their products. Baker's especially, they make the world's finest unfinished bark-tan and tannery-finished English bridle.
     

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