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Silent goods - official affiliate thread

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Oliver11, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    Dear all,

    Firstly, I’d like to express my appreciation for the community you’ve built here on Styleforum. Although I have to admit I’ve not been an active member for a while, I found a wealth of helpful information on here during my studies some years ago.

    I’m here to introduce a fine leather goods company my team is in the process of building. We’re currently in the design and development stage and I wanted to tap into the collective wisdom of the community for critical feedback as we progress.

    I hope to make this next few months an enjoyable experience to be part of and offer first hand insight into the thoughts and processes involved. Aiming to provide information people find valuable and hopefully provoke an interesting discussion! I will take a fully transparent approach and I hope that the manner in which we are creating the products will resonate with the members here and that our dedication can earn your custom in the future.

    About us.

    We are a leather goods design and craft studio based in North London (1A, 69A Southgate Road, N13JS). Our small, passionate team of seven creates products through a process in which the design and craft are of equal importance and inform one another throughout. The studio is currently in its sixth year and most of our past work has involved providing a specialist leather goods design service to well-known fashion brands. At the same time, we also create experimental, crafted pieces when the opportunity arises. Our most recent such project was a gentleman's briefcase commissioned by the V&A Museum in London, which took us six months to produce. While the London studio is focused on design and bespoke work, we also have a highly skilled factory based in Istanbul, Turkey. More about that later.

    A brief introduction to some members of our team:

    Volker Koch is the master craftsman at the London studio - his family has been working with leather for four generations. He learned the ropes at Hermes in Paris, and before founding the studio he made fine leather goods for several well-known luxury brands for over a decade.

    Markus Vihma keeps his eye on sustainability and transparency. Having studied sustainability science in Lund University in Sweden and now furthering his research through PhD studies in sustainability in design. He has worked on clean production projects with brands and clothing factories in both Europe and Asia.

    Hamdi Sarackardesler runs our factory, Petek Saraciye, which is based in Istanbul, Turkey. He is a fifth generation proprietor of the family business, the roots of which extend back all the way to the 15th century. The forefathers of the Sarackardesler family (which translates as ‘saddle brothers’) tended to the saddles and leather equipment of the traveling horseback army of the Ottoman Empire. Once the army settled in Veles, Macedonia so did the family, and several generations later established the company there, in 1855. Decades later, the company returned to Istanbul, where the family and company have been based since. Quite the story!

    My name is Oliver Ruuger, and my focus is design. I received my undergraduate degree in fashion design at Kingston University and postgraduate degree in Fashion Artefact at London College of Fashion. Previously I worked for a few smaller design houses as well as some bigger luxury brands.

    Serpil and Helena work on design and craft, and Gertu’s focus will be communication.

    Why silent goods

    This project is a huge personal mission we have taken on as a company. The ideas which make up the backbone of the project have been running through our minds for several years now and we can’t ignore them. We have written a manifesto for ourselves to follow and would like to share these principles with you.

    These are the 6 principles silent goods will be built upon and we promise to uphold.
    • Product before brand
    Create the best product, not the best brand. Forego all branding, logos and labels. Silent goods speak through the core quality of the items.
    • Silent design
    Living in a city, there is so much noise all around. We create products that make your choices simpler, are free of noise, distraction and design clutter. Silent goods must complement your life, not complicate it. Beauty comes from extraordinary materials enhanced with exceptional craftsmanship, where every detail has purpose.
    • Made for life
    We aim to make our products as long lasting as possible. Therefore, there’ll be no seasonal collections simply for the sake of change - Instead, we make singular permanent pieces you will keep forever.

    I could write a lot about the incredible materials we’ve chosen, and I will do so later on. In the meantime, another vital factor for us is repairability – something I feel very strongly about and have incorporated into the design of the products. Fittings, handles, straps etc, will be mechanically removable, so each element can be replaced individually. The construction will be modular where parts can be repaired individually. And of course, our fully equipped workshop in London will be on hand for any care and repair required, for life. In a world where so much seems disposable, I want our bags to last for generations.
    • Direct
    In light of the unique opportunities presented by the recent rise of online shopping, we’ve decided to forego traditional retail altogether. While there are risks involved, such as getting out of the blocks fast enough to sustain the business, I believe the benefits outweigh those risks. The first advantage is of course the price. We can make a product from the most amazing materials (which carry a high cost), craft the item without cutting any corners (a designer’s dream), and still offer it for less than half the price it would cost to buy at a traditional retail store. This means a luxury product can become far more affordable. We estimate our retail prices will fall between £200-600 for a full leather bag. Another huge benefit to the online retail model is the direct communication and feedback between us as makers and our customers, as we have taken out the middlemen. This is beneficial for both sides.
    • Sustainable
    Having spent years trying to convince big brands to take sustainability seriously, we’re now in a position to make every choice of ours count. There is so much to be covered under this topic and I will write more down the line, but as an example of something I have been working on recently: one of our goals is to use as little paper and print as humanly possible. For the essentials, such as printed addresses for our shipping boxes, we have commissioned a bespoke typeface, which when printed uses about 50% less ink, which both saves money and pollutes less. We are offering this for free for everyone - drop me an email on [email protected] and I will email it to you.
    • Transparent
    Put simply, modern business should be transparent. Whereas some might shroud themselves in mystery as a way to invoke excitement and add intangible value to the product, our aim is to demystify internal processes to reveal the value in ours. I will share the journey of each material from its very original source, and even take you on an expedition to our factory and material producers, collaborating with an independent filmmaker to do so. We’ll also clearly show exactly how much each element in our products costs, so you have a clear view of what you’re investing in.

    If you’ve got this far - my humble thanks for persevering! Soon I will write about materials and processes.

    Oliver
     


  2. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    A post about materials coming soon.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017


  3. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    A post about crafts coming soon.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017


  4. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    How we bring you the best materials in the world – while bringing their prices down to earth.

    2017_09_06_SILENT_GOODS_528.jpg
    Tarnsjo Garveri vegetable tanned organic leather, Lauffenmuehle Tencel lining, bespoke uncoated stainless steel fittings, Guetermann rPet thread, YKK Natulon zips, Henkel DL1936 water based adhesive.

    Our ambition: To create bags that outshine world leading brands in both quality of craftsmanship and materials used – and do it at an accessible price.



    What drives up the price of luxury goods and how can we lower them?

    Even just a few years ago, for a company to be able to reach their customers, the trodden path involved going through a sales agent, a distributor and a retailer. All necessary services, but ones that add their own markup, multiplying the cost of the materials and craft by more than 10 times and inevitably resulting in a much higher price for the customer. Even when selling directly instead of via a retailer, the company is locked into the same end price (RRP), to avoid undercutting its retailer partners. And once a retail network is established and price points are set, there is no going back. This is why lowering prices in traditional retail is tricky, due to these extra ‘taxes’ the model adds to the cost of materials and craftsmanship, and any attempts to lower the end price can only come at the expense of the core qualities, quickly turning the design process into an exercise in trimming. Something I have experienced many times and have growing personal frustrations with.



    Today, thanks to the internet and online retail, the small company can have a voice and reach their customers 'in person' without the 'retail chain'. This completely changes the price dynamic, as there’s no longer a need to pay for services within the wholesale process. But to take full advantage of it takes a company built from the start on the basis that it will never be sold in stores. Now, the price you as a customer pay reflects the cost of the high quality materials and dedicated craftsmanship which produced the high end product in your hands. Higher investment in quality makes the designers and makers happy, as everyone likes making nice things. And that in itself is a good thing for everyone.



    So, with greater investment to devote to how our bags are created, we can ensure the materials used embody our three essential criteria - beauty, quality and sustainability. Style is rarely concerned with all three at the same time, let alone on equal footing, but we strongly believe it would be short-sighted to create something long lasting and beautiful if doing so had a negative effect on our environment and our workers. Equally, unless enduring quality becomes a cornerstone of sustainability, we risk creating beautiful landfill. So isn’t that the ultimate - owning something timelessly beautiful, which causes no harm to anyone and lasts a lifetime? That's why we’ve taken our time sourcing materials that are in equal measure beautiful, enduring and sustainable. From our perspective, these elements make up the best materials in the world.


    Leather
    The leather is both our basic building block and our crowning glory. Naturally tanned and full grain, it’s produced by a small tannery called Tarnsjo Garveri, located about an hour from Stockholm. They have been in business for over 100 years and have kept faithfully to the vegetable tanning method. This is important to ensure no cross contamination in the barrels or processes with toxic chrome agents. The hides are sourced exclusively from local organic farms, all within within fifty miles. A by-product of small farms, and being somewhat rare, the skins not readily available. Instead we collect them one by one over time, with the tannery saving up the leather for us since beginning of the year. As you’ll probably know, vegetable tanned leather produces a rich, beautiful patina over time. Wear will only soften it and enhance its beauty.


    2017_09_06_SILENT_GOODS_447.jpg
    Our leather has a consistent grain throughout, but features natural variation. This is something to always look out for, as a grain which appears perfectly uniform all over a bag, has likely been produced from a lower quality raw material which is covered with paint and the grain stamped on with a heated metal plate.



    Lining
    We are working with a German company called Lauffenmuhle to produce a bespoke article for us in a fibre called Tencel. It produces a modern, high performance fabric, one of the very few Cradle to Cradle certified textiles in the world. It is incredibly strong, light and hard wearing, engineered to last. The fibre is produced from the pulp of farmed European beech trees using eco-friendly processes. We have chosen an even twill weave at approximately 250 gsm, and the colour of the material will be a mid grey.



    Metal components
    Fittings are a personal favourite of mine to work on, as I get to explore some mechanical design thinking. Most common metal components used in leather goods are made from a zinc alloy called Zamac, which generally comes in two different finishes - it's either electroplated with a precious metal and then lacquered, or a thicker plating is applied which allows for an un-lacquered, more premium finish. In any case, there is the base metal, a copper layer, a nickel layer and then a precious metal layer for colour: either a gold or ruthenium, palladium and such. The drawback to plating is that it involves a highly toxic process which produces layers of coating metal that are prone to wearing off. This is why you’ll sometimes see a gold colour component with some nickel or copper showing through at certain spots. As you can imagine, this cannot be fixed any other way than by removing the fitting and re-plating it, which in most cases is not a viable option. It also means the metal can not be recycled or reprocessed as it does not remain pure.



    Our solution is a set of bespoke stainless steel fittings, hand polished to a shine. Although about four times as costly to produce compared to the industry standard, I believe it is worth the investment to avoid the harmful plating process and its short lived coating – plus, the steel will show a beautiful light patina over time, complimenting that of the leather. We’ve also added mechanisms to allow the fittings to be individually removed, to accommodate care and repair of the bag years down the line. More about this later.


    2017_09_06_SILENT_GOODS_199.jpg
    Technical drawings, 3D printed prototypes, and final polished stainless steel components. This is to illustrate that in the design process we go though several sampling runs of 3D printed fittings, which helps to get the final results right. Note the removable details.



    Zips, thread and adhesive.
    Zips are an integral part of any modern bag and YKK of Japan makes some of the best. They have recently introduced a line called Natulon, which is the same high quality as their top of the line Excella range, plus the woven zip tape is 100% PET recycled. Our thread has a similar story; produced by the reputable, trusted German company Guetermann, we’ve sourced a 100% recycled option, which maintains their highest quality. The adhesive often used in leather goods manufacture and referred to in the trade as ‘yellow glue’ is in fact a neoprene solution. While a strong and highly useful product, we’ve managed to source a more sustainable option, a water based adhesive from a german manufacturer Henkel. This is of course better for the environment, but more importantly, for our makers’ lungs.



    So that sums up the how and why we chose the materials we work with. I’ve come across quite a few interesting discussions on materials and fabric. How important is it for you to understand what exactly goes into each item you wear? When considering materials, is sustainability something that you consider, along with quality and how it looks?
     


  5. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    Hello gentlemen,

    I have been advised by those wiser than myself to keep my posts more palatable and actually include some shots of the bags *gasp!*.
    I therefore apologise for the previous walls of text which in hindsignt were probably a little too much...

    So - I'm here on this fine Saturday to share some details of prototypes, which came hot off the workbenches and that we have now taken some photos of. Here's the first 2, the classics, the holdall and the briefcase.

    Made from soft organic vegetable tanned leather with uncoated stainless steel fittings. 2 colourways to start, black and natural. Both have a single deep external semi-hidden pocket. The briefcase has a padded laptop compartment inside, as well as 2 patch pockets and a pen slot. The holdall has the same patch pockets & pen slot as well as 2 elastic pockets each end for socks and such.

    Built for life, with repairability in mind.

    I'd really appreciate some comments or even questions!

    Oliver

    2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_363.jpg 2017_09_27_SILENT_GOODS_CAMPAIGN_MENS_270.jpg 2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_389.jpg 2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_241.jpg 2017_09_27_SILENT_GOODS_CAMPAIGN_MENS_246.jpg 2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_260.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017


  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Not gonna lie. I really do quite like the natural leather one. I'm not sure about functionality yet, but the color is really quite striking.
     


  7. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    Thanks Fok, I know what you mean - the colour will seem 'fragile' at first, but after a month of two a rich character will develop. I expect it to darken quite a bit, specially the handles and if it gets some sun.

    So what do you think about these? The backpack and the tote.

    The aim with the backpack was to make it as comfortable as possible (as backpacks are meant to be), while keeping the look suitable for business. Padded laptop compartment against the back panel and an internal double patch pocket.
    Very very comfortable, easily adjustable handles.

    The tote is an unashamed basic essential, derived from the versatile canvas bag that everyone has. It is slim (4 cm), with a single semi-hidden zipped pocket inside. Just like the raw selvedge denim it is photographed with, it will look incredible after a years use.

    I hope you like them.

    2017_09_27_SILENT_GOODS_CAMPAIGN_MENS_328_EDITED.jpg 2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_303.jpg 2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_315.jpg 2017_09_27_SILENT_GOODS_CAMPAIGN_MENS_165.jpg 2017_10_04_SILENT_GOODS_PRODUCT_403.jpg
     


  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I think that they look very well designed and tasteful, with nice little touches like the quilting on the back side of the backpack. I imagine that that gives the bag some structure and is also comfortable? I've never understood totes or anything that requires you carrying things with your hands, but it is nice. Personally, I am looking for sling bags that sit close to the body don't look cheap or made with leather that is described as "fragile".
     


  9. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    For me, personally, and I don't know where or if this fits into your plans, but a structured but smaller sling bag that uses only sturdy leather (at least a 6 ounce leather for straps, please!) and hardware like this:

    [​IMG]

    would be a dream for me. There is so much out there where one single component is obviously the weak spot...
     


  10. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    Let me share the story of the leather!

    It is made by a tannery in Sweden, Tärnsjö Garveri. (tarnsjogarveri.com for those that are curious). They only really make one type of leather, often called vegetable tanned leather, but Tärnsjö use local spruce bark in their process. I think most would be familiar with the thick, solid type, but i'll attach a couple of pictures below. This leather has a lot of history, particularly in equestrian equipment and works perfectly for the type of products that do not have much movement in them, such as wallets and solid briefcases for instance. However it really only works with limited construction methods, where the seams are stitched on the outside of the bag.

    Now the bags I've shared are actually made inside out, and turned, which means we cannot use leather thats stiff. So we've taken the same leather described and tumbled it in these huge wooden barrels. After a few days tumbling the fibers ease up, the leather develops a grain and becomes soft. So it is just the mechanical process that is applied, the leather remains the same.

    Turned construction is necessary because we wanted to attach internal parts are as panels, bound by a strip of leather on the seams. This means, if years down the line the fabric might wear out or rip, just that part can be replaced easily. The leather will last for decades, if not generations, so it's important to think how other parts can last along with it.

    Some pictures from the tannery and our workshop.

    tarnsjo 1.jpg
    Tanning barrel.


    tarnsjo 2.jpg

    veg tan 1.jpg
    This is the solid, untumbled leather.

    DSC_2564.jpg

    This is the actual leather used in our bags, photo just taken at the workshop. 2.5 mm and very soft.
     


  11. dynemacron

    dynemacron Active Member

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    Hi there. I am really digging the aesthetic look of your goods. Very functional, clean designs.

    My wife and I each have some vegetable tanned leather backpacks that was worked by an artisan and they are some of our favorite (and functional bags). I am curious as to the style of the tote that you are putting out? Is the tote going to have a more structured bottom, or is it more like a shopping bag that is useful for light goods (a portfolio, tablet, et cetera). My wife is looking for a new tote for the holidays, and I believe that your aesthetic, the leather, and the design would be in line with what she would want.

    When you launch the kickstarter, is there an expectation on turnaround time for manufacturing?

    As an aside, I love the fact you guys are using Tencel as the lining. It harkens to the same choice of using Cupro Bemberg inside of suits; any particular reason you guys decided not to use a a cotton trill?

    The only thing I will note is that I wish the hardware was gold for the natural colored leather, simply because the patina over time will darken it and browns to me work better with warmer colors. But I would have to see what the end leather patina might be like.
     


  12. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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    Hi Dynemacron,

    Thanks for the question. The tote that will be part of this collection is a very simple slim one, with a single zip pocket inside. Think of it as a classic canvas bag, but in leather. The specs are below:

    W34.5cm H40cm D4.5cm
    Weight: approx 600g
    internal zip pocket under collar
    stainless steel hardware

    Tencel is quite the material. I've just been playing with a sample here at the workshop and its incredible, so dense that we can hardly poke an awl though. We're using it for a few reasons, one it is much much harder wearing than cotton so should last forever, nicer to the touch, hardly creases and is platinum level cradle to cradle certified.

    With regards to gold fittings, I'm not particularly keen on plated metal parts, as the finish will inevitably wear out and base colour will come through. The other option would be raw brass, but it oxydises and inevitably marks the leather. I think the stainless steel option would surprise you, it is not at all as shiny as nickel. Over time and use it will develop a lightly brushed effect - think of old cutlery.

    Now with regards to manufacturing, we are expecting to ship the first run end of February.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, happy to answer!

    Oliver
     


  13. Oliver11

    Oliver11 Member Affiliate Vendor

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