A Q+A with Emil Corsillo from The Hill-Side and a behind the scenes look at their recent 500 mile Volvo joy ride from old bob the weaver’s place in rural Virginia to Hickoree’s HQ in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Herringbone modified. Moonshine consumed. Hijinks ensue.
SFs: You were recently given the keys to a 2014 Volvo S60. How’d that all happen and why wasn’t I invited? Don’t they know I only drive Volvos?
TH-S: Volvo asked us to propose a cool road trip to them, as part of this “Volvo Joy Ride” marketing project they’re doing. We pitched the idea of visiting Old Bob, our friend in rural Virginia who weaves our Old Virginia Modified Herringbone fabric, watching him weave some new fabric, and then driving it back to our New York factory to see it transformed into a necktie. Next thing we knew we were flying down to Virginia to pick up a brand new whip. And, you WERE invited dude. Check your voicemail once in a while.
SFs: No seriously, why didn’t you invite me?
TH-S: You’re just so much more handsome than Sandy and me that we were afraid we’d look even more schlubby than usual if we had to be on camera next to you.
SFs: Moving on, how’d you guys connect with Old Bob initially?
TH-S: Mitch (long-time Hickoree’s store manager) is the one who got in touch with Bob originally. Mitch was looking for a domestic textile source who could weave fabric for us on old shuttle looms, with small minimums, and so he was making a bunch of phone calls and writing a bunch of emails. He contacted a few textile museums up and down the east coast, and one of them was like “there is this one guy down in Virginia . . .” and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
SFs: Talk a little about the “modified herringbone” fabric itself? What makes it special? Given the name, was it something bob was doing already that he tweaked for you guys?
TH-S: To get a little technical, Bob’s fabric is made with yarn spun from 80% cotton and 20% polyester clip. “Clip” is the scrap fabric left over after a length of fabric is cut into pattern pieces to make clothes. Scraps of cotton and polyester fabric are shredded, fluffed, and blended into a fiber that can then be re-spun into yarns.
For this fabric, Bob used 8′s/2 size yarn, meaning each strand is made of two 8-count yarns plied together. This is pretty beefy yarn; denim is usually made with 6′s, 7′s, or 8′s/1 yarn and shirt fabric is a lot finer, like 20′s or 30′s/1.
Bob was already using this weaving pattern when we met him; it’s totally his invention. Every season we specify the color and set-up details that make the fabric seem new. In our current collection (Autumn/Winter 2013) we’ve got Bob’s modified herringbone fabric in five different colors: pewter grey, cardinal red, forest green, spice orange, and apple green. They all use the same multi-color warp, but with different weft yarns.
SFs: So, as I understand it, part of your friendship with Bob includes drinking moonshine together. How much was consumed on this trip and in what flavors?
TH-S: Bob’s neighbor has a source for some legit Virginia mountain man moonshine, which has kind of become a ritual every time we go down there. This time Bob’s neighbor brought over strawberry, pineapple (a first for me and Sandy), and the classic straight corn stuff. There were quite a few of us on hand for the festivities at Bob’s house that first night of the trip, including a film crew of six, two dudes from the marketing team, Bob and his wife, and two more of Bob’s friends. Everyone got a little taste of the ‘shine. I learned that the pieces of pineapple and strawberry that have been soaking in moonshine for god knows how long are really dangerous, and Sandy drove the Volvo back to the hotel that night.
SFs: What’s the top speed you reached in the Volvo?
TH-S: We had it up around 100 for a few sections of I-81 through northern Virginia, but the most fun we had was on the small country roads in Lancaster County, PA, with cameras suction-cupped all over the car. Something about knowing there’s a camera mounted on the rear wheel well makes you want to drive like a maniac. The whole time I was thinking of that “professional driver on a closed course” disclaimer they show in car commercials.
SFs: Do either of you even know how to change a flat?
TH-S: Change a who?
SFs: Never mind. Did anything bad happen to the car?
TH-S: We took a detour at one point in the trip to visit “Virginia’s only drive-thru safari” — which turned out to be way more intense than we anticipated. They gave us these big buckets of pellet food, like what you feed to the animals at a petting zoo, and they told us to hold them out the window with two hands. Well, about 30 seconds into the park, a dozen llamas and elk rushed the car from all sides, and I did the opposite of what I had been told. I held my bucket inside the car with one hand, and the first llama stuck his head in my window and ripped my bucket right out of my hand. Petting zoo pellets went everywhere: all over our laps, wedged in between the windshield and the dashboard, rattling around inside all of the AC vents, stuck in our seat belts, you name it.
TH-S: Not as gross as your Volvo.
SFs: Nice one. Other than the Drive-Thru Safari, what other discoveries did you make along the way?
TH-S: Right in that same part of Virginia we also stopped to check out the famous Natural Bridge (which we nicknamed “Natty Briddlez”) and Foamhenge, which is a full scale replica of Stonehenge made of styrofoam.
SFs: Speaking of Foamhenge, what was the soundtrack for the road trip? Did you listen to Smell The Glove by Spinal Tap? Did you make a playlist on iTunes entitled “Sandy and Emil’s Epic Joyride”?
SFs: Whats the most “road trip” thing you ate?