Archives: Featured Company

Featured Company: HIM Clothing

I recently stumbled across a very cool tie maker in the Denver area called HIM Clothing.

The company is run by two entreprenueral guys – Hugh and Chris. And they have been making some big waves recently. After they attracted the attention of 5280 Magazine, I knew I had to contact them and take a close look at their products.

A few weeks back I sat down with Hugh Hartigan. He was smartly dressed and brought with him a nice looking briefcase filled with a colorful assortment of ties and bow ties.

Now, there are a handful of people making ties in Colorado today. So I’m no stranger to vintage and cotton neck wear. When Hugh passed me one of his ties, the first thing I did was flip it over and look at the construction. It immediately became clear that this guy knew how to make ties.

Suffice it to say, I knew that we had to feature HIM Clothing on the BE blog. Their quality and passion mirrors our own.

I followed up with Hugh and had him answer some questions for me…

[Ryan] HIM Clothing offers hand made neck ware and accessories for men, can you give us a little background on how your business started and what made you want to learn how to sew ties and bow ties?

[Hugh] My best friend, Chris, and I have always been artists at heart. We have known each other since kindergarten and we used to run a drawing club in elementary school. We went to different high schools, but we kept at it. I pursued painting and drawing and Chris started to get into music and ceramics.

We both graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2012 where we each received a degree in Psychology and I also received a degree in Studio Arts. Right out of college I decided to attend law school, but shortly after I started my mom lost her job and financially the schooling did not seem feasible. After getting a bartending job to help my mom out, I started looking into the fashion industry. I thought about studying it, but a friend told me that most schools were geared towards womens’ fashion and I knew I wanted to do something for men. One day I just tore apart an old Christmas tie and reconstructed it from the ground up. My mom taught me how to sew on the only machine we had available, which was a 1950 Singer Featherweight 221 (we still use the same machine for everything we make).

I made a few prototype ties for my friends’ birthdays to get a feel for the craft. After designing a logo and spreading it around social media I had more and more people asking if I had a tie company. A couple of months later I brought Chris on board, taught him how to sew, and the rest is history.

HIM Clothing - Noir Tie

Regarding quality, what is it that men should be looking for when they shop for neck ties? What’s a mark of high-quality construction?

Chris and I are constantly striving to improve our wares, so high quality is something we are consistently trying to achieve with every new product. We had actually studied under a self-made tailor who wrote the literal handbook on making ties. There are two crucial things to look for in a high-quality neck tie:

The first is the slip stitch. This is the largest undertaking of our ties and is the most crucial step because it is what holds the entire tie together. The slip stitch is a thread that runs the entire length of the tie, holding the fabric together, but also allowing it to slide up and down the thread. If this is done improperly, the tie may bunch up awkwardly when tying. Most commercial ties machine stitch the length of the tie and simply turn the tie inside out. This saves a lot of time, but drastically reduces quality, causing the fabric to have unnatural twists and turns along its body and affecting the overall drape of the tie.

HIM Clothing - Slip Stitch

The easiest way to tell if your neck tie has a slip stitch is to delicately pull the tie apart in the back where the fold is. Here you should see little bits of thread peeking out, which indicates a slip stitch. Some commercial ties have even developed a machine that does the slip stitch, however, there’s one more way to tell if it is hand made.

On either the blade (front end) or tail (back end) of the tie, you can pull open the fabric and check for a small piece of dangling thread. True handmade ties leave about half an inch to an inch of excess thread at each end of the tie, which gives just a little extra length for the tie to slide along when tying it. This bit of thread should have a small ball knot to keep the thread from coming undone, as well as about an inch or two of excess thread past the knot. This excess thread became a calling card for old tailors to show that their slip stitch was truly hand sewn.

HIM Clothing - Slip Stich and Bar Tack

The second thing to look for is the bar tack. This is a small horizontal thread that can be seen on both the blade and the tail. This keeps the ends of the tie closed and helps to maintain its overall shape. Most commercial ties will simply use a thick piece of string as their bar tack; a handmade tie, on the other hand, should have a more ornate and intricate woven bar tack. This is done by wrapping thread around a primary stitch to strengthen the bar tack, adding to those little extra details we love in our ties. Chris and I have been amazed at how complicated bar tacks can get and we are constantly trying to invent more intricate weaving patterns.

About how long does it take to manufacture a neck tie? Bow tie?

Chris and I have done what we call a ‘speed run’ to see how fast we can construct a tie from start to finish with each of us working on it. There are five essential steps to making a tie: cutting, stitching, forming, sewing, and what we call ‘details’. With each of us ready at a different station as the tie was made, the fastest we have made a tie from start to finish was about an hour and a half. Working on our own, it probably takes closer to two hours. When we first started it took closer to three, so we have made a lot of progress. A proper hand sewn slip stitch alone takes about thirty minutes.

HIM Clothing - Taches Bleus Bow Tie

Bow ties, fortunately, are not as daunting of a task to undertake. From start to finish, the fastest I have finished a bow tie is just under forty five minutes. This includes cutting, stitching, flipping, forming, and ‘details’.

With the warm weather approaching, do you have any style advice for men that still want to dress sharp, but may shy away from wearing a tie in the summer months?

Personally, I am a huge fan of bow ties in the summer as well. They are less intrusive and less cumbersome than a tie. They lend themselves to more sessions of spontaneous activity like a pick-up game of basketball or a bike ride. More often than not, to keep your tie from flopping around, you either have to tuck it into your shirt or take it off.  No such issue with bow ties, just strap it on and get outside.

My best advice for ties is to do something light. As is often the case with suiting in summer months, you want something that breaths easy like cotton or linen. You have to remember that this thing is going to be strapped to your neck, so you’re going to want some air circulation. Personally, I recommend our Essential line of ties. Each of them is constructed from locally bought cotton fabrics, which gives them a little more weightlessness. The color palette is also something I am fonder of for summer, with more muted pastel colors and minimalistic patterns.

What’s the future of HIM Clothing look like?

Chris and I have big plans for the distant future, including custom products of all kinds from shirts to boots to belts to shoe laces. However, for more current projects, we are sticking to what we do best: accessories. Chris and I have been studying different creative methods over the past few months, including wood working, metal working, and textile weaves. We are hoping to work with some other Colorado crafts people to create some exciting new products, including tie bars, cufflinks, lapel flowers, and wallets.

We are also planning on doing a line of ties with hand drawn and painted patterns from local Denver artists. In return for contributing their designs, we want to give 20% of the proceeds back to the artists to help them continue to practice their craft. Being artists ourselves, we understand how hard it can be to find success in the art world, so we want to try and provide an opportunity for those ‘starving artists’.

HIM Clothing - Points Chameaus Tie

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Contact Hugh and Chris by visiting their website, himclothing.com. And stay in the loop with their current events by liking them on Facebook.

Are you familiar with the brand? Let us know in the comments below!

Ryan Wagner

Featured Photographer: Ashley Kidder, Urban Safari Photography

If you’ve been to our homepage recently, you’ll notice a new portrait of the three of us at BE. The original one was fine, but we wanted to step up our game a bit. So, we went searching for the best new photographer in the Denver area.
Where we ended up was having a discussion, and subsequent photo shoot, with Ashely Kidder of Urban Safari Photography.
And after hiring her to help us with our latest photo shoot at Union Station, we are convinced that Ashley is our new BE photographer. Indeed, you’ll continue to see a few photos on the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter circuit that are taken by Brett with his semi-professional eye and me with my, ummm, cell phone skills, but for the important shoots, we’ll be working with Ashley.
Consequently, who better to interview on the BE blog than the girl behind Urban Safari Photography?!
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1. [Bespoke Edge] So, you have an interesting background – you used to teach high school French, right? What made you want to take the leap into photography full time?
 
[Ashley] For the past five years, I was a high school French teacher and department chair at Northglenn High School.  While I was teaching, I realized I didn’t have a legitimate hobby, aside from grading papers, planning lessons and chaperoning dances (and those don’t really count as hobbies anyway, let’s be honest).  I had always enjoyed photography when I was younger, so I decided to invest more of my time + interest into learning the craft.  At the start, it was exactly as I had wanted: a weekend hobby to distract me from the ups and downs of teaching.  However, after shooting more and more, and branching out into portrait photography and weddings, the time I spent working on building my photography business slowly transformed into a full-time job.  All the while, I was still teaching and working at the school upwards of fifty hours per week.  I didn’t really have a personal life or any time for interests outside of teaching + photography, so this past May, I resigned from Northglenn High School in order to focus all of my efforts + time on my photography business.  I really miss my students, but I do not miss the politics and negative atmosphere of teaching.  It is a draining job, and I knew that I just couldn’t do both photography and teaching at full-speed at the same time any longer.
 
2. Obviously, there are many wedding photographers out there, how have you managed to stand out?
 
Many of my colleagues + friends have noted that I have a keen eye for urban photography.  I find it so easy + nerdily exciting to seamlessly blend my portrait subjects with the textured urban backgrounds + striking architecture of Denver, without having the cityscape overpower the subjects of the photos.  My clients have also remarked that they’ve never felt like they were “taking photos”; they felt more that we were simply out on the town having fun together, and I happened to have my camera along with me.  I never want my clients to feel uncomfortable in front of the camera.
 
3. What’s the most challenging thing about running your own photography business? Any tips for aspiring business owners?
 
More than anything else, I would recommend upping your business game.  You can be the best, most amazing photographer in the world but if your marketing + business skills are lacking, your career will fall flat.  Having excellent customer service, consistency in delivering your product and upholding your professional persona both online + in person are a few of the key traits I believe all successful business owners possess.
 
4. Are you seeing a lot of grooms wearing suits for their wedding versus the more traditional tuxedo?
 
I am, and I’m loving it!  There is something so chic about a custom-made, fitting-in-all-the-right-places suit on a groom on his wedding day.  Nothing against the traditional tuxedo, but I love seeing grooms experiment with less classic colors + options on their wedding days.  I would love to see more tweed, all shades of grey, suspenders + vintage navy blue suits.  The bride shouldn’t be the only one on the wedding day to have a little fun with attire + accessories.
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To contact Ashley or learn more about Urban Safari Photography, visit her at her website here.
Those of us at BE consider her to be the best in the business – smart, professional and with a great eye for urban landscapes!

Introducing our first featured shirt – the Daily Rider

2015-spring-fashion

If you’ve been wandering around our online store lately you probably noticed a category of shirts designated as Featured Shirts.

What we’ve done is created a place for our collaborative shirts to live. What does this mean? Well, a collaborative shirt is one that we helped build with the help of another local business that we really admire. To help kick off this series, we teamed with the wonderful cyclists over at The Bespoke Pedaler. We gave them full control over the shirt’s style and detailing.

And the result? An absolutely wonderful shirt that is truly one of a kind. Jointly, we decided to name it the Daily Rider in honor of it’s urban cyclist inspiration.

Now, you can find many of the shirt’s details on our website, but we wanted to go a bit deeper and really explain how this shirt came to be and go into more detail on the shirt’s unique styling.

Enter Emily Hogle and Rick Evans – the braintrust behind The Bespoke Pedaler, a retail shop in Denver geared towards the urban cyclist. We thought, who better to help us design a great looking business casual dress shirt that a guy can wear on his bike and then actually want to wear to the office after he arrives?

Here’s how the shirt turned out…

The fabric

Rick selected a versatile fabric that he could both dress up for the office with a great looking neck tie, but also one that he could roll the sleeves up and comfortably ease into happy hour. This chevron check is made in one of our finest cottons and comes in a medium weight. Perfect for layering under a cable knit sweater as you pedal into the office!

A subtle chambray contrast collar helps to ground the shirt and the dark buttons don’t overly call attention to themselves. It’s important that the details don’t clash with the bold red and black check pattern.

bespoke-pedaler-daily-rider

The cycling details

Firstly, you’ll notice a fun cycling contrast fabric on the cuffs. This is a real fun fabric that you’ll find nowhere else.

Secondly, Rick wanted to have a little more room in the shoulders for when he’s riding down on the drops or in an otherwise crouched position. BE founder Ron Wagner suggested an inverted box pleat to give him the room that he was seeking. And the great thing about this pleat is that it’s very subtle, especially so in this particular fabric. It almost blends in because of the check pattern. In contrast, if the fabric was a solid French blue, such a pleat would become more obvious.

Furthermore, the tail of the shirt is rounded. It’s a little subtle, but you can see in the image below that the shirt tail isn’t as pronounced, or for that matter, as long, as your typical dress shirt. Rick and Emily chose this style because Rick knew that he would often be wearing the shirt untucked and didn’t want to have a shirt tail so long that he may be sitting on it! However, we were careful to not cut the tail too short that it wouldn’t cover Rick’s back fully.

rear-view-daily-rider

 

And just for good style…

Rick also had a couple other details he wanted to add to round out the shirt and ensure that it was truly one of a kind. He chose a corner cuff because of its contemporary style and side gussets on the side seams since he would be wearing the shirt untucked much of the time. It’s worth noting that these side gussets are an often overlooked aspect of many shirts. Nowadays, it’s becoming a bit of a giveaway of a custom shirt.

The contrast fabric on the collar and the placket is also a fun choice. The grey chambray really works well to complement the grey and black in the shirt fabric. A bright color, for instance, would clash with the strong red and black so a somewhat subdued grey was a great choice.

Wrap up

We had a great time designing this shirt with The Bespoke Pedaler and we couldn’t be happier with how it came out.

If you’re in the Denver area, swing by the Pedaler and see the real deal on display. And the shirt is available for purchase at the BE store (so long as the fabric is in stock!).

By Ryan Wagner

Featured Company – The Bespoke Pedaler

Recently, we caught up with a very cool retail shop in Denver – The Bespoke Pedaler. They specialize in offering very distinctive urban cycling apparel, footwear and gear. And a quick tour of their beautifully designed shop on Platte Street will convince you that what they offer is indeed very unique to the area.

I sat down with owners Emily Hogle and Rick Evans to learn more about the shop.

[Ryan] So, the two of you have non-retail backgrounds. Can you tell us a bit about how you two made the leap to opening a retail shop?

[Emily] Right, Rick is an architect by trade and I am an interior designer. We’ve both spent the better part of our careers specializing in resort and hotel design so it may seem like a leap. However a number of experiences between us led to and inspired the concept of The Bespoke Pedaler. Namely, we both have a vibrant history with bikes and share a love for bicycling and all the social and technical qualities that surround it.

Secondarily came the unshakeable desire to experience humanity and the power of connecting with people in a very direct way every day. The bicycling culture has this quality – it is a very social and human activity. Bikes are human powered of course.

Finally and more practically we realized that bike shops focus on the bike more than the rider. Apparel, footwear, and other accessories for the bicyclist are secondary and often tertiary to bike sales and service. People love to create their own expression of themselves through fashion. People love to feel safe and protected with their gear. Particularly in Colorado – we love our performance wear. So we endeavored to curate a collection of technically refined lifestyle wear that seamlessly transitions to all activities in life. Whether that is biking, walking, hiking, traveling, dining, working, presenting, wandering…

Bernard

Are there a lot of people cycling to the office these days? Any notion of what the average commuting distance is?

There are many more people cycling now than ever before, however, it is still a small percentage relative to the number of people who commute in cars. According to a 2013 report from Bicycle Colorado, there are approx. 11% fewer cars on the road annually across the state and the number of everyday bicycle commuters are up 57%. That’s pretty significant and is worthy of trendsetter status among other states. Denver is 6th among US Cities for bike commuting according to the US Census.

There has also been a lot of recent discussion about younger generations and the “future workforce” being far less inclined to own a vehicle than previous generations. The average bike commute according to the Downtown Denver Partnership Commuter Study in 2012 was 4 miles. That is likely still the same or similar.

bespoke-pedaler-interior

Any tips for guys that would like to cycle to work, but think that they will be stuck wearing clothes that clearly aren’t ‘business casual?’

The notion of high-style, high-performance lifestyle wear is still relatively new both for the consumer and the fashion industry so it’s easy to think that this type of apparel is really just another version of Patagonia or that it has a more urban edge like Chrome. However, there are a few particular brands that are focused on truly supporting the business casual commuter and we offer those brands, among others. Blazers, trousers, dress shirts and dress shoes are all available in our shop. One might also include fabrics in the wardrobe that are naturally breathable, temperature regulating, fast drying and/or anti-bacterial such as merino wool, tencel and bamboo. These natural materials are prevalent in technically refined lifestyle wear for their beautiful look and feel and they provide properties that outerwear companies have been trying to replicate synthetically for years.

What challenges have you encountered in opening a retail store and what have you done to overcome them?

In opening a retail store, we have been challenged with realizing that the vision of the bike apparel industry or even our own vision for our shop is not necessarily perfectly synced with the collective attitude of the city of Denver just yet. As such, we were immediately tasked with listening, observing, and dynamically evolving to resonate as clearly as possible with the people of Denver.

The concept of bicycling as a lifestyle is huge in Europe and very new in the US, although much bigger in coastal cities. Ultimately for us, this is about the people. So our number one job is to listen to what they want and marry that with the products available in the market and our hope to contribute to a more bike-able world. And when we don’t see what people want out there, we want to push for it.

Let’s say I have a 9 mile commute to the office on my bike – how can I stay dry during the ride and not walk into the office looking like I just finished a workout?

Staying dry is a balance between the right equipment, the right pace and the right apparel. It’s hard to tell the agro commuter that he will stay dry on his 9 mile ride when he likes to push 15-20 miles an hour and make it a workout. But for the daily commuter, a bike that supports commuting (not racing) is ideal because it will most likely have a slightly more upright positioning which keeps the body more comfortable.

A few dry runs on the weekend might be helpful because you can select a pace, time it, and gauge the “sweat factor”. It’s important to remember that bike commuting is not necessarily about saving time (although a majority of the time it is faster than driving). It is about a human powered existence. Movement = breath = energy = health.

Finally, the right apparel – it does take some dialing in because we are all different, but the goal is breathability, wicking/fast drying and temperature regulation. In general, merino wool is the most superior fabric for these criteria. It can be expensive, but it has been used for nearly a century as cycling performance material and it is rarely rivaled, which is why many brands are placing a lot of effort on developing merino collections. Merino regulates body temperature by keeping you cool or warm depending on your needs. It is naturally anti-bacterial. It is fast drying and wicking so it pulls the sweat away from your skin and allows it to evaporate quickly. You can also select products that might support your specific “Sweat needs”. For example if you tend to sweat a lot under your arms, then a jacket with pit vents would be a good choice.

What’s the coolest product in your store this fall? Does it look like typical cycling attire?

For men the coolest product we have right now is the Down Shirt by Nau. This is a sustainably designed and constructed water resistant snap front shirt jacket with 800 fill goose down insulation. This very fine quality insulation is incredibly lightweight, breathable and of course insular. The lack of bulk makes this piece an amazing layer for under a shell in wet weather or over a sweater or button down in the office. The discreet and fitted profile appeals to the tailored refinement of a professional and the construction of the jacket is high performing for the Colorado outdoor lover.

bespoke-pedaler-exterior

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From those of us at BE, keep up the great work Emily and Rick!

Also, we have been collaborating with The Bespoke Pedaler on a BE custom shirt – designed with the urban cyclist in mind – stay tuned…

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The Bespoke Pedaler is located in Denver.

Visit them at 1550 Platte Street Unit A.

info@thebespokepedaler.cc