At HELM Boots we have always named our styles after dear friends and family. Not everyone knows where these names come from and we think it matters. We like to think that we wouldn't be where we are without those friends and family. We also love community - being a part of one and contributing to a culture - much like the namesakes of the Fall 2013 Collection; Meet this season's boots:
Named for Joshua's Father-in-Law, Sam Broughton, the Sam is the first boot we have fully designed on our own with our new factory. When we started with them we used a lot of their lasts and patterns in order to get off the ground in the US. Doing that really helped us transition economically to producing in the States. With the Sam we bought all of our own lasts after having them custom made for us at Jones and Vining in Massachusetts and we had entire new patterns made and cut. We wanted to call back to the very first HELM boot from 2009, the Samuel (which became the Ray Ray). This is the first 100% HELM design that our factory has ever produced and we thought we would name it after the first boot that HELM ever made - the Samuel which in turn was named for Joshua's son, Samuel who was in turn named for Joshua's Father-in-Law, Sam. Make sense? We're all family here.
The Sam comes in Black and Navy this season and he joins his brother, the Sam Original from Spring 2013.
There is a guy in Austin named Jack Sanders. You all have a Jack in your town. He's awesome and he can make anything and teach anyone. He's also super down to Earth and really into baseball. Once upon a time we did a little film about him. When we designed this boot we knew we needed to name it after someone that reflected the personality it had. Since this boot has a Vibram sole on it and can literally go anywhere and do anything, is strong yet understated, it was only natural to name it after Jack.
The Ben is named for Ben Edgerton who owns one of the best restaurants in Austin - Contigo. Once upon a time we did a little film about him too. Contigo is borne out of the concept of his family's ranch in South Texas and it is pure, modern Texas. The HELM team is hard-pressed to think of a better place to spend a Happy Hour or Sunday brunch or chilly Fall evening or... really any time at all. Ben is a charming, handsome, hardworking man and we admire what path he has traveled. He is also non-traditional in his approach which is why he gets named after the non-traditional Burgundy boot. Sidenote: Ben has also worn the original Samuels for so many years and had them resoled so many times, we've lost count. Maybe he will get an upgrade soon...
View and purchase the boots on our site or in our Austin store: 900 East 6th St Austin, TX 78702
We are excited to be featured on the Feliz Blog this morning. For those of you who aren't local, Feliz is an annual design pop-up sale bringing together a careful selection of independent designers, makers, and artists. It is an opportunity to gather Austin’s creative community in an inspiring and laid-back setting, while shopping beautiful wares and meeting the designers who made them. The ladies who are behind the event, Leigh Patterson and Laura Uhlir, are incredibly stylish and creative role models and they don't do anything halfway. You should turn all the cool ladies in your life onto them for wardrobe inspiration- if you are a lady, you should just copy them, ok?
At any rate, HELM is sponsoring Feliz this year and they came over and spoke with Hillary, our Brand Manager. Read more and learn what inspired us this season, where you can read more about us and where to get the best beverage combo in town - The Brew and Brew.
Our buddy Adrian Whipp is the local genius behind Lumiere Tintype, an Austin mobile tintype studio. You have probably heard of him by now if you live in Austin as he has been setting up his little studio at La Barbecue on South First and most recently at Justine's on East 5th. He has also been doing commissions like the above portrait of Stefan, co-owner of Revival Cycles and a recent HELM collaborator himself.
We've been lucky enough to nab Adrian for his help in presenting our Fall 2013 collection. He was kind enough to spend the day with us out in McKinney Falls State Park where we shot several scenes involving our new boots for this season. Tonight you will be able to see some of those shots blown up and hung in our store for our launch party. We also used his feet and his studio for the photography seen on our website these days. His images are also gracing our business cards and our look book. We love how the tintype process enhances the style of our boots.
So what exactly is a tintype? It is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by paint, lacquer or enamel and is used as a support for a collodion photographic emulsion. What the heck is that? Basically it is a suspension of silver halide crystals that vary in density depending on how much and for how long they are exposed to light. Underexposure is good and therefore quick "film" speed and results in a good medium for portraiture.
In its inception, tintypes were a good medium for photographers working fairs, carnivals and most significantly in the field during the Civil War. I fact the Met in NYC just wrapped an exhibit they had of Civil War-era tintypes.
Adrian is reviving this tradition of quick portraiture and traveling street photographers with his modern studio. He still uses the silver collodion and makes all of his chemicals. He develops on site and provides you with both a tintype of your mug and a digital scan for you to Instagram and send to mom.
He'll be shooting portraits tonight at our launch party. 7-10pm 900 East 6th St Austin.
photo credit: barrettalley.com
People, we have been carrying the (made by hand in Dallas, TX) Barrett Alley wallets since May and you guys need to be more interested in them. We have both the Disciple Wallet and the Revelation Wallet at the HELM Store in Austin and they are just waiting to find a home with you. Our friend Taylor Welden did a Carryology Piece on Alley last year and he says it all in that article. We would try to do our own original blog piece but we would just be restating Taylor so go read his. Oh okay, we will give you a Cliff's Notes version below but only to tease you into reading Taylor's whole piece:
-Each piece is handsewn by either Alley or his wife. There's not a sewing machine nor any hired help in Alley's workshop.
-Each piece is hand numbered and Alley keeps meticulous track of every single piece he's ever sold.
-Each piece that requires lining is lined with a museum-quality vintage textile.
-Alley is committed to crafting pieces that will last forever. Horween leathers and handsewing are his thing.
-Alley has this piece of wisdom: “If you’re an artist in a novel place, doing novel things, you’ll be successful. You’ll never be successful following the bread crumbs from someone else.”
-And here's the real kicker: The DESIGN of these things. They are so beautiful in their minimalism and functionality. There isn't a single thing present on any of his pieces that doesn't need to be there.
You'll find more in Welden's article like what Alley got his degree in, just HOW meticulous he tends to be and all of the other things he is good at. Go on, read it And then support this Texas small businessman.
Wallets $95-$195 at the HELM Store.
At the end of the last blog post we mentioned three other US factories that we admire; one of which is Zkano Socks in Fort Payne, Alabama. We started carrying these socks at the HELM store in Austin (and on our site) a few months ago and could not be happier. We have worked really hard to only stock goods that are made in America, like our boots. Certain things are pretty hard to find that are still Made in the US, textiles being one of the hardest. Fifteen years ago Fort Payne, AL told a different story. Once known as "The Sock Capital of the World", outsourcing has changed this quaint Northeastern Alabama town from supporting 125 mills/8000 workers to 20 mills today employing only around 600 workers. In 2009 Gina Locklear, daughter of hosiery mill owners, decided to leave her residential real estate career, get back to her roots and start a sock line. Her special ingredient is that she uses 100% organic cotton in all of her designs. The socks are fun, fresh and comfortable while remaining at a fair price point. Even better, they're 100% American.
from $15 at HELM Boots
Photo Credit: Zkano
It's Labor Day and most people celebrate it as a reason for a three day weekend; a day for BBQs and day drinking, buying stuff on sale and an official end to the summer season. The day was originated by Labor Organizations and it became a federal holiday in 1894 following the Pullman Strike as a way for the US Government to appease the striking workers. Labor Unions don't have the widespread national presence that they once did but it doesn't mean that the holiday today doesn't still have meaning (beyond all the day drinking and BBQing). We recognize it as a day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of US workers and value the national tribute to the contributions American workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. HELM is taking the day to salute our skilled factory workers and are hoping they are taking the day to relax with their families. We can't believe that we got so lucky as to have our designs crafted by them and we treasure the fact that there are still US factories who are a part of our American identity - some of our other faves: Zkano in Ft Payne AL, Cydwoq in Burbank, CA and L.C. King Mfg. in Bristol, TN.
Photo Credit: Chris Bilheimer
Austin is an absolutely perfect place to live but most people complain about the long summers at some point or another. It's true that it is hot here but we've also adapted to dealing with the heat and even occasionally making an enjoyable aspect of life. It's the last (official) weekend of the Summer and the HELM team has been reflecting on some favorite things they loved about living here this past season. Of course in Central Texas we'll still have a month of summer weather so this list is just a touch of arbitrary/wishful thinking.
Ethan Brown - Studio Manager
Farewell Books and Las Cruxes - I just really love this East Side shop; every time I go in, I find a zine or a book that I want at Farewell and Las Cruxes is so well curated. They also have art openings fairly regularly and a cafe in the back; it's just a great East Austin fixture that I'm happy to work up the street from.
The (almost) Constant Summer Breeze - When I first moved to Austin, I distinctly remember thinking, "Yes, the summer here is HOT but there's this weird, almost constant breeze that makes it a little better!" I think I've begun to take it for granted, but when I think about it, 8 days out of 10 there is a mystery breeze helping us Austinites out on a 100+ degree days (and hopefully blowing smog far away from us).
Joshua Bingaman - Owner/Founder
The swimming pool at Garrison Park on South Manchaca and Stassney - it's huge and has really great olympic size lanes and feels like you're in an old city pool in some mafia movie and/or "the sandlot" or at a country club because the pool is so giant and clean and nice and there's a really cool diving board and lots of lifeguards and a separate shallow kiddie pool that's really nice too - it's like $3 and anybody can go there but it's never been crowded when i've been there ---the park is really pretty too and has a ton of beautiful trees - almost feels like a forest sans the playgrounds and all the kids bday parties and the basketball court and grills, etc ---but that culture of all of it just adds to how cool it is to me---reminds me sometimes of Dolores Park in SF because the people are so eclectic.
New India Cuisine on S Congress- really good authentic Indian cuisine and that's priced well and always feels and tastes consistent and traditional
The pool / patio on top of the Hilton Downtown - really cool view that's not too high up and you can see cool parts of downtown without feeling like you're in a ginormous new condo building, the pool is lovely, the shaded cabanas outside the bar are all really nice for chilling out and for some reason being up there gives me the feeling like i'm somewhere in NYC or Chicago - maybe because you can hear all the city sounds
Hillary Bilheimer - Brand Manager
John E Dee's Grown Folks Happy Feet Dance Party Friday afternoons on KUTX 98.9. His personality is awesome and his playlist is rock solid R&B dance hits
Voltron Smoothies at Juice Box. My husband and I got totally addicted to these this summer. Acai, banana, almond, coconut oil and cacao. On our worst day we skipped lunch and dinner and had two of these instead. Sometimes it's too hot to eat.
Water: Deep Eddy Pool and Kayaking at dusk on Town Lake. As hot as Austin can be, we thankfully have tons of water to cool off in. Deep Eddy is an old WPA structure and has a pretty storied past. It is the oldest swimming pool in Texas and the water is pumped up from the lake; No chlorine and the water is icy cold. We bought kayaks last summer so we could go out on the lake whenever we want. The birding and the bat sightings at dusk are pretty spectacular and at that time of day you have the whole lake to yourself.