SECRET FORTS » 2011 A COLLECTION OF GOOD THINGS Thu, 19 Feb 2015 17:23:46 +0000 en hourly 1 An Afternoon With An Afternoon With. Fri, 30 Dec 2011 13:55:05 +0000 mrforts Continue reading ]]>

Photographer Michael Mundy, who along with Nhi Nguyen runs An Afternoon With, came to my neck of the woods in Brooklyn recently to, well, spend the afternoon. A project about people and their spaces, Michael naturally took photos while I went about my normal routine and the results are just up over on their site. Click over to An Afternoon With to see the rest of the photos. Huge thanks to Michael and Nhi. All photos above by Michael Mundy.

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On Filling Dad’s Shoes : The Redux. Wed, 28 Dec 2011 13:52:55 +0000 mrforts
Martha Stewart Whole Living, Jan/Feb issue. Original post appeared here.

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Out/About/Here/There. Tue, 27 Dec 2011 16:00:20 +0000 mrforts

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…From Secret Forts. Sun, 25 Dec 2011 16:16:51 +0000 mrforts

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What Mad Men Were Selling : LIFE, 1964. Fri, 23 Dec 2011 14:04:40 +0000 mrforts

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Head to Toe : Strapped. Thu, 22 Dec 2011 13:47:20 +0000 mrforts Continue reading ]]>

*Hikaru Noguchi lambs wool/cashmere knit cap (at JOINERY) / “vintage” RL specs (Got the frames in 1986 when I was 11.)
*Wallace & Barnes Sawtooth parka / Folk waistcoat / 8.15 August Fifteenth ‘Fun’ Army shirt / J.Crew indigo striped LS henley.
*LL Bean hunter’s tote
*Left Field Cone White Oak Indigo Selvedge Duck Chinos / Leather Man LTD. hoof pick belt / very unauthorized The Hill-Side blanket lining handkerchief
*Always mismatched Uniqlo socks / Mark McNairy New Amsterdam army grain crepe sole double monk straps.

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Field Report : JOINERY, Brooklyn, NY. Wed, 21 Dec 2011 13:34:25 +0000 mrforts Continue reading ]]>
While the food world has made Brooklyn a comfortable home away from its other home across the East River, another pattern is emerging. Brooklyn is, as of late, also becoming place of business to some of the best shops around these days. Smith & Butler, Goose Barnacle, In God We Trust, Hickoree’s Floor Two(I’ll go as far as to count C’H'C’M’, it having its genus here). Now add to that growing list the recently opened and long labored over JOINERY in the Williamsburg neck of the Borough.

JOINERY, for having only just opened, feels already like a shop that’s been there for years. Upon entering, and aside from the amazing range of products therein, the shop is sparingly yet warmly appointed with detail after detail to take in. From the clothing racks to the dressing rooms to the American Clay-plastered walls, JOINERY gives the distinct impression that no aspect of its making was too small to overlook. As shop owner Angela Silva explains, “I love the look of unstained, unfinished poplar. Because of cost it was used more sparingly throughout the store for dressing room doors, window platforms, garment racks and furniture to tie things together. The center table is made by Nightwood, Brooklyn-based furniture designers. I provided them with an old industrial cart I found on Ebay and they reincarnated it with a mixture of new poplar and reclaimed wood to create a tabletop and shelving. I also added poplar to an antique counter from an old general store to create a new top for it.”
Angela continues, “Half of the garment racks are made out of black piping combined with brass fittings to make them a bit more elegant. The other racks were made of poplar following plans provided by Ana Kras, a Serbian designer who makes beautifully simple utilitarian objects and shares the plans for her designs on her website.”

For any shop owner, making the most of common materials and coming in on budget becomes ingredient to the magic potion of longevity. Angela says,“I had a very small budget but working within those parameters became a useful way of narrowing down an aesthetic. I had to design and source everything myself so that the budget went towards purchasing materials and having anything I couldn’t make myself produced. The idea and the challenge was to use affordable, accessible materials in a unique way. Most of what was used can be found at a local hardware store. For example, the floors and ceilings are covered with a standard #2 grade pine with lots of knots, burrs and board discoloration.”

As for the ceiling and rear wall, you’ll notice a dark glimmer to it, like ebony crystal. For this, Angela purchased a blow torch and got to work charring the pine that would skin the ceiling and rear wall. She says, “I had heard of Sou Sugi Ban, the Japanese method of torching wood to create weather resistant and fireproof siding for homes. It is typically done with cedar but I decided to buy a blow torch and try it with the pine. The characteristics of the pine produced a different result than what I expected but it worked well.”
Central to the shop hangs a light fixture I want here in the Secret Fort. Again, Angela explains, “The brass chandelier is a derivation of a plans provided by the Lindsay Adelman studio, who make high end light fixtures. They provide inexpensive, D.I.Y. versions of some of their designs on their website. The rest of the lights are bare bulbs hung by cloth-covered wire. All the parts can be purchased online at, who carry a tremendous selection of lamp components.”
The idea of the shop’s been something on the stove for sometime now. Something that may account for JOINERY’s seemingly fully realized state upon opening day. “I was working as an Art Director and decided to start a blog. As I got into it, I became attuned to hints that I might have stumbled upon a more true passion. The thrill of following an internet stream of conciousness until it materialized into a new discovery, and then being able to share that, was addictive. Most of my research would lead me down a path ending in some physical representation of an idea. I realized that what I really wanted to do was house these objects together—make a store. The idea seemed plausible since I was becoming more familiar with retail through my boyfriend Emil’s endeavors. His online store, Hickorees, had really started to pick up some steam. The buying for my shop began with a trip to Brazil, where I grew up. I brought back lots of handmade textiles and discovered a few great clothing designers. I had discovered a lot of talented people while researching for my blog. I wanted to combine those finds with other international lines as well as local designers.”

And then there’s the goods. As well a curated, unexpected and legit product list as you’d hope to find. Angela runs through Joinery’s excellently selected inventory, “Womenswear, menswear, home goods, vintage wares. Handmade Brazilian textiles, German enamelware, handmade Danish brushes. The clothing lines are a mixture of local designers and some harder to find lines that have either no other New York distribution or no other US distribution. This is the case with Fernanda Yamamoto, one of my best lines. She’s a half-Brazilian / half-Japanese designer I met in Sao Paolo who studied at Parsons. We’ve only been open 4 days and her line is almost sold out.”
She continues, “The stories behind the brands are really important to me so I made tags for all the clothing that explain more about each brand. I also want to let people know what they are paying for. For example, Warmi, based in France, has all of their knitwear made by traditional Columbian weavers. The number of hours of work that went into each garment is written on the tag.
Here is the store ethos: Joinery is a place where all kinds of good things come together. It’s a collage of whimsy and restraint, an ode to vintage and a nod to experimentation, a mixture of the familiar with the exotic. A thing that finds its way into our shop is special. Whether it’s made of wood or cloth, whether it was found in our neighborhood or on a trip, we sell it because we admire its craftsmanship, respect its quality, appreciate its uniqueness, and the idea of it makes us happy.”

Secret Forts being a collection of good things itself, JOINERY’S ethos is one we completely endorse.

263 South 1st Street (corner of Havemeyer and South 1st)
Weekdays 2-8
Weekends 12-8
Closed Tuesdays

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Head to Toe : Fleeced. Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:41:28 +0000 mrforts Continue reading ]]>

*Ebbets Field Flannels Brooklyn Bushwicks cap / American Optics
*MWC W10 1970s Mil-Spec Automatic Watch / Case Sod Buster jr. (Pop Up Flea bottle opener)
*Homespun Knitwear long sleeve henley / J. Crew Lambswool sweater / Carter’s “Watch the Wear” bandana / Manastash mountain cabin jacket
*Stanley & Sons waxed canvas backpack
*Outlier 60/30 Chino / Vintage web belt
*Solmates / Birkenstock Londons

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Season 2 : Owner/Operator, Winter’12. Mon, 19 Dec 2011 12:49:33 +0000 mrforts Continue reading ]]> Launching their second season of classicly inspired, mountain ready outerwear, Owner/Operator, the New York based, two man Mountain apparel making team, continues to evolve both technically and design-wise. Taking a significant step forward from last season to the present, here, Steven Kimura and Peter Sieper give Secret Forts a look at the new goods and answer a few questions about what’s new across Old Chillerington River, at the Owner/Operator R&D Facility near the storied peak of Mt. Chiller.

On the eve of their Winter ’12 launch date, I fired off some Q’s to Owner/Operator owners and operators Pete Sieper and Steven Kimura. They fired back with some thoughtful and insightful A’s. Here’s the transcript.

SECRETFORTS: How and when did you guys know that you wanted to do Owner Operator?

OWNER/OPERATOR: We grew up snowboarding together in upstate New York. A few of years ago, we realized we really can’t relate to the outerwear products and companies that we see out there. We’re looking for something that seemed to take a step back: like a Frostline vest, or an old Gerry
jacket. Something with classic styling, but still fun. At the same
time though, on the mountain, you really need gear with modern
technical features and fabrics. On a trip out west, Owner Operator was
born and we’ve been working on it ever since.

SECRETFORTS: What were some of the challenges you learned from going from your first to second season?

OWNER/OPERATOR: Getting our first season done was a huge, multi-year learning experience. The second season was a chance for us to put all that
we’ve learned to practical use, and create a really cohesive
collection, explore more pieces and features, pare back to essentials,
and get even more excited about next season.

SECRETFORTS: What are some of the biggest differences between the two? Good, bad or both.

OWNER/OPERATOR: The first season felt like a little miracle. We were told more than once that there was no way you could make products like ours
domestically. It was exciting to have finally made something that we
could really take right out to the mountain. The second season
definitely felt different. Our confidence level is probably the
biggest change. We know what we want to make, and how to do it.
Knowing that you can make it happen inspires all kinds of new ideas,
and our dream of what Owner Operator can be. Our imagination is always
a few steps ahead of where we are, and it can wear us out at times,
but then we think about our friends taking the gear out at Powder
Mountain and we get excited all over again.

SECRETFORTS: From the quick looks in the video, it seems as though the gear has taken a big step both technically and design-wise. What’s new
for 2012?

OWNER/OPERATOR: We’ve completely revamped our Operator 111 Parka and 112 Pant. The style is unchanged, but the pattern was rebuilt from the ground up to improve the fit and function. We’ve also added zip-venting to the
underarm of the parka, and inside leg of the pant. When you’re hiking,
it’s really important not to get overheated, or you’re going to end up
cold on the way back down the mountain. Likewise, when you are
shoveling, or running for the bus. On sunny days, it can be nice to
get a little breeze going too. We’ve also got a new mitten—it is super
simple, but it is the essential thing: wrist cuffs, soft interior,
good contrast colors.

SECRETFORTS: Owner Operator is made in the US. Talk a little about the challenges and benefits for a small company’s decision to manufacture in the states.

OWNER/OPERATOR: We’re sewing all of our outerwear right in the Garment District in New York City. We can walk into the factory anytime, and are in fact often in there working ourselves. Our garments are very complex to sew, and we need to be very hands-on so that we can be sure everything is done right. It’s expensive to sew in New York, but if you need a really
skilled workforce there’s no better place to do it.

SECRETFORTS: Aside from the hectic-ness(that’s a word) of getting 2012 ready to launch, I presume you’ve already been sketching and taking notes for next season. What can we expect from Owner Operator down the road?

OWNER/OPERATOR: We’re already in deep with new designs for Winter 2012-13. Our gear takes a lot of time and revisions to make—before we’re even done
sewing a new sample, we can see where we want to make future changes.
It’s definitely a highly iterative process. Finding the right fabrics
and trims, especially with our focus on domestic sources, also takes a
fair amount of research and time. We’re always working on the future
lines. We’ve got Spring/Summer stuff in development for this year,
including some packs and surf trunks, as the same motivation that
guides our outerwear definitely applies to our quest for warm weather
gear and fun. We want to keep the good vibes going all year ‘round!

-Steven & Pete

Huge thanks to Peter and Steven for cramming this in to an already busy schedule. All photos courtesy of Owner/Operator.

Owner/Operator Mountain Outerwear
Twitter handle: @OperatorUSA
Available at Hickoree’s(online & Floor Two), Nepenthes and through Owner/Operator’s website.

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