Honoring the Past as we Look to the Future
At Division Road we don’t get political, we get historical. Currently and without a doubt, we are in one of those periods of upheaval and change. Sometimes this process results in a better world and other times, not so much. Nevertheless, we were inspired to leverage this year’s Capsule Collection to highlight “The Special Relationship,” which is an unofficial term for the political, diplomatic, cultural, economic and military policy relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. This grand partnership of transnational uniformity has been a cornerstone of western civilization, with both positive and negative effects, throughout the last century.
The Allied Archive Project began with the materials. Resembling the methodology of war-time procurement, we sourced materials from our partnering nation to include some that were actually in use during the conflict. Leather from the US was used on a Tricker’s officer-styled boot, mini Houndstooth comprised a US camp style shirt, UK Moleskin formed a Military Pant made in Virginia, Herringbone was applied on a locally made flight cap, and divisional blanket style woolen twill was manufactured into a Bomber Jacket.
Generally, we initiate these undertakings at what we consider to be the foundation of an outfit: footwear. When looking for a US tannery drenched in history there is no better place to start than Horween Leather Co. We reached out to Nick and asked him to do a deep dive into his records to see what leathers, outside of the Marine Field Leather, were actually used in WWII. Seemingly on the top of his mind was the Mechanical Leather that was produced as early as the turn of the century that used the Chromexcel tanning processes, and was in use for actual parts in Allied military armaments and crafts during WWII. Never used on footwear until now, this leather was developed as a high-pressure bearing leather and in its original form would have been cut into concentric parts and then joined with metal fittings. In the early 20th century most gaskets and belts were comprised of leather, but since have been almost completely replaced by composites. During the war, Mechanical Leather was produced for vehicle parts on tanks, airplanes, jeeps, anti-aircraft guns and the like. Nick sent over the actual 1946 customer list for this leather that included: Chrysler, Ford, Mack Trucks, Studebaker, John Deere, Pullman and many others that were producing tanks, trucks, gun mounts, weapons and airplane components for the war effort.
Nick began contemplating how to appropriate this particular tanning process for footwear in a way that would result in a proper debut for this historic leather. Once we saw the cuttings we knew it would work within our collection’s palette, and, by being tanned in the same way as Chromexcel but dried differently, it would be a flexible leather with a dry finish to reveal more of the grain profile, yet age in a manner appropriate to heavy duty leathers of the day. The goal was to create a boot that resembled an Officer’s Dress style that also infused elements of Jump and Combat Boots.
We wanted to apply this US-produced leather on a UK-produced boot, so there was only one place to go: Tricker’s in Northampton, England. We conducted a deep search through historical war and military issue photo documentation looking for the perfect military or Officer's boot to base the design upon, and compared those with examples from the Tricker’s archives and finally found a boot style that we’re calling the Churchill. With a simple country boot pattern, high quarter, and a curved peak dress-style counter, the subtle touch of a cap toe and Ridgeline pinking established the perfect specifications to match our vision of Officer battledress. With the knowledge of how this mechanical leather tanned, we decided to use Bison for our special batch to provide a strong grain yet add interest to the consistent deep burgundy-based brown that we had struck on the smooth side to allow for patina. We combined that with an appropriate commando sole, storm welt, and tonal finishing with solid brass eyelets.
From bottom to top we knew that a Bomber Jacket would be a perfect piece for the collection, and no one produces more perfectly-adapted military inspired outerwear pieces than Private White V.C. Looking for a classically styled three-season garment, we used their version of the A-1 Bomber Jacket as it’s an exceptional example of a heritage-based piece infused with all the right elements that elevate it from a mere reproduction. We went through the archives, factory stacks, and mill selections looking for the perfect wool to use with this simple yet detailed piece and found a deadstock double faced wool twill that was woven to resemble a military issue service blanket. The material was produced just 30 minutes down the road by the low production Mallalieu’s of Delph that is about as much of a traditional English mill as one can be, still powered by a water wheel via the adjacent river, and producing some of the finest limited run fabrics in Britain since 1863. After considering all of the material options, this wool twill was the standout. With specialty wool ribbing and patch front pockets that resembled the Churchill’s counter along with real horn buttons, this piece looked like it came out of the archives but was made for today's gentleman.
Still in the UK, we looked for fabrics that could be utilized by those US brands and manufacturers selected for the project and an obvious fit was Brisbane Moss, an old-timer with a long history of moleskin production, the use of which for military trousers is well documented. Brisbane Moss is still making some of the most durable yet fine moleskin in the world, thus we sourced an extremely soft yet durable 300 gram-per-square-meter black moleskin for some Military Trousers to be produced by Shockoe Atelier. That wasn’t enough, however, as we took their baseline pattern and revised it toward a flight and jump pant by tapering the leg at all of the right points to give a roomy and accommodating top block with a narrower hem and a modern silhouette that had familiarity with yesteryear. The result was an everyday trouser with supreme comfort and durability, hallmarking a military pant in one of the best fits we could imagine.
To correspond with the theme, palette and really tie everything together we needed to develop the perfect shirt. We worked with Corridor NYC to produce a new camp style shirt with dual buttoned chest pockets. By sourcing a decidedly British pattern of a black and white mini-Houndstooth fabric and adding real horn buttons and an adapted collar and fit, this established the perfect base to the rest of the collection while providing a patterned interest piece. The Japanese (yes, we know they were Axis) mill produced this fabric with the heft of a fall shirt, and when garment washed gave it a texture that further revealed the Houndstooth pattern like a vintage jacquard weave. Designed as a future classic from the past this shirt, while simple, became another cornerstone to the Capsule Collection.
No ensemble is complete without the proper addition of accessories that complement and accent. The most straightforward addition for our Allied Archive Project was that of our exclusive Tanner Goods Standard Belt in the Havana leather with brass hardware, sourced from a special color batch of their Wickett & Craig meridian bridle leather. Corresponding effortlessly with the color profile and hardware of the Horween Mechanical Leather Tricker’s, this decision was a no-brainer.
If footwear is the foundation of an outfit, then headwear is the punctuation mark, so we worked with Ebbets Field Flannels to bring their 5 Panel Flight Cap out of hiding and started looking for an appropriate fabric. Combining East to West we looked at Woolrich Woolen Mills, which has had a long history of producing fabrics for the military as early as the Civil War. Per usual, we scoured their limited run options and decided to use a classic Broken Twill Weave, aka the Herringbone, because of its association with tweeds produced in the United Kingdom. In a fully lined 5 Panel Cap and a Woolrich 12 oz. Charcoal Herringbone Wool, we created a clean cap that has an historic touchpoint but lives beyond any style classification.
The Allied Archive Project includes these individually distinct pieces that are even more formidable when amassed, with specialty military issue inspired garment labels and commemorative pins included with each item. Completely exclusive and coordinated by Division Road in collaboration with Tricker’s, Private White VC, Shockoe Atelier, Tanner Goods, Corridor NYC, Ebbets Field Flannels, Woolrich Woolen Mills, Brisbane Moss, and Horween to create a visual narrative for the modern man by leveraging a timeless color palette and historical materials to assemble an Allied Archive Division of standouts.
THE EVENT: Friday 10.13 at 6-9PM PDT
Join us for historically appropriate cocktails, snacks and music as we celebrate our Anniversary and the debut of our annual Capsule Collection: The Allied Archive Project, where we take an inspired step back in time to an era of upheaval and hope.
THE RELEASE: Saturday 10.14 at 10AM PDT