Lets get a little personal before we talk about the brand. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Brooklyn now but I’m originally from Kansas City, Missouri. In high school I did some theatre and tons of painting. My parents let me paint the walls of my bedroom so I went wild. They have kept it the same way it was in high school – it looks like Francis Bacon’s studio, just mass chaos. I also camped a lot with my dad and brother and went dumpster diving for vintage goods. I went to college in Cincinnati and studied Scenography – set, costume and lighting design. Theatre design helped me get a really good grasp on periods of history, culture and the human condition and really pounded into my head that a good idea is nothing without solid research. You need a clear understanding of the context of your work and you have to be able to articulate it. After college, like most creatives, New York was the next destination! I freelanced working as an assistant to Broadway set designers and moonlighted as a window dresser for Polo Ralph Lauren. It wasn’t long before I got hired as a window designer. I handled the flagship stores, prototyping and designing global directives. The job was totally different, an unexpected change in direction for me, but I learned a lot about the fashion “universe.” I worked my way up to a role with more management responsibilities, but eventually got burned out on bureaucracy and not having much of a say.
Can you give a brief history on the Brand itself?
While at RL I made the first Roll-Top sack to haul my materials and supplies all over the city. From there, I started creating piece by piece in my free time, first the Thin Rivet and Passport Wallets, and put them on a few small boutique sites… they sold pretty quickly and I got great reactions, so I decided to go into business for myself. My great-great-grandfather Christen Hansen made horse harnesses and shoes in Denmark. I recently found a picture of him from 1922, standing in the middle of his shop surrounded by all of his harnesses, tack, boots and tools. The link between the past and the present has always been strong for me. Seeing that old photograph made what I am doing now more meaningful.
What’s the inspiration behind it and where do you see it headed?
I’ve been a thrifter and a vintage junkie since I was a kid. I remember going to the Swap ‘n Shop flea market at an old drive-in theater outside Kansas City. I’d hunt for old medical prints, or crusty leather bomber jackets, anything that spoke to me. My grandpa (dad’s dad) was a collector, maybe borderline hoarder. We would go through his basement and find vintage WWII Italian switchblade, movie posters, and stacks of old Playboys – all kinds of stuff. I think that if my interest in vintage goods comes from the idea that if the product has lasted this long and has the same striking appeal as when it was new, there has to be something there to take a cue from.
Before the brand was created, what drove your motivation to create it?
The first Roll-Top-Sack was born out of pure utility. It’s been a little over three years since then; that same bag and the reason for creating it has never left me. Utility is what motivates my design – what’s the saying, necessity is the mother of invention? I wasn’t satisfied with what was out there and felt like I might be able to do it better. I want to make pieces for people to prize and keep forever. Inheriting things from my grandparents (and even great-grandparents) gives me a sense of history, along with insight on how to make something meant to last a lifetime.
What has been your all-time favorite piece you've created?
Honestly I really love the work that is still in process/development. I always fall in love with the pieces I’m actively working on or, sometimes, ones that never make it into production… that’s unrequited love I guess. I like being in the development stage because it gives me a challenge. Imperfection is what I’m captivated by because I’m in the middle of improving it. It has the potential to be anything so it draws me to keep working. Once it’s finished, it’s out there and I’m sort of done with it in a way. But then I think of another way to tweak it and it starts all over again!
Upon review of this weekend duffel, what was your inspiration behind creating this product?
The Weekend duffle is geared towards travel and utility. I wanted to make something strong, sturdy and versatile enough to work for a weekend getaway or an work bag for the industrious type. I used furniture movers’ webbing to reinforce the handle supports and both industrial waxed and natural canvases for the main body.
Do you see the brand merging in the future and expanding to other products besides leather goods and accessories?
I’ve made a few custom waistcoats and jackets for friends but there is a vintage double-breasted shawl collar coat that I’ve been wanted to remake for the longest time. I feel like that is the piece that will get the ball rolling on outerwear production, then probably denim. There is nothing better than a perfect fitting jean. Coming from a background in theater design and art direction, I feel as if there is always more to the story that meets the eye. You can create only a glimpse into a world, and I have always wanted to open it up to a full picture on any project.
Have you done any collaborations with any companies so far?
We did an exclusive version of the Thin Rivet Wallet with the guys over at Brooklyn Dry Goods – we used our signature design for a batch of the wallets from repurposed rubberized canvas – originally they were sugar beet sacks. This past fall I designed a capsule collection for Alter Brooklyn. Taking a cue from old spaghetti westerns, we created a few pieces that any modern-day cowboy, or city slicker, could sport. The Fold-Over Tote has its roots in early 1900s bank deposit bags and the Holster wallet is modeled after old-school shoulder holsters, you get the idea…
Do you have retail spots that carry your goods? or is it strictly purchased through your online store?
In the beginning we only sold direct through our site and through Etsy. This past spring TM1985 went wholesale. We are currently at 9 stores in the New York City area, including Cadet USA in Williamsburg and Alter Brooklyn in Greenpoint. If you are overseas, check us out in Japan at Journal/Standard stores.