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These 5 Brands Believe Craftsmanship Still Matters |

These 5 Brands Believe Craftsmanship Still Matters

In an era of on-demand conveniences and mass-produced everything, it may be unpopular to point out that faster isn’t always better. In fact, when it comes to craftsmanship, faster is just…faster. And no one knows that better than the skilled tradesmen and women who hone their craft by hand, via the old-school methods that most definitely still matter.

From fabrics to metal forging, accessories to auto design, these artisans are imbuing their crafts with a sense of quality that few other disciplines possess—and the results are nothing short of beautiful. Here’s a look at the men and women whose worlds take shape one slowly formed step at a time.



Blacksmithing: Blanc Creatives

Ask any random sample of strangers what they do, and you’d be hard-pressed to find even one who claimed the title of blacksmith. That might not be the case, however, if you were in Charlottesville, VA, home of Blanc Creatives, makers of carbon steel cookware. Founded by Corry Blanc in 2011, the company makes hand-forged steel and copper cookware, as well as some standout items in its woodshop, too. Staffed by a group of assembled blacksmiths—including two women, because damn right—each piece takes an average of eight hours to produce.

Initially shaped by a hydraulic press and then finished by hand, the pieces are crafted with function and purpose in mind, as well as thoughtful design. Blanc’s signature stamp is the curved, elongated handle for which his skillets are known, and the utility-meets-aesthetics approach has won Blanc Creatives numerous accolades in recent years. It’s not hard to see why Blanc refers to their creations as “22nd-century antiques.”

Photos by Keith Freeman/Blanc Creatives


Car Design: Mazda

When most people think of the slow, controlled precision associated with artisans and handmade goods, auto companies—with their assembly line production—typically aren’t top of mind. But unlike so many of their competitors, Mazda approaches car making differently. Their designers and engineers spend decades perfecting their crafts until they earn the title of Takumi, or master craftsman.

So dedicated are these master craftsman to perfecting details that many of them eschew modern production methods in favor of more traditional techniques. Case in point: Osamu Fujiki has been designing the interior cabin space for Mazda since 1981, and he does it without a computer. Fujiki sculpts the clay models from a paper design. Yes, paper.

The production engineers shave metal to a twentieth of the width of a human hair by hand. And you thought your job was hard.

Similarly, the engineers who work in Mazda’s forging factory in Hiroshima use cross-roll forging, one of the rarest and most complex methods, to piece together the various parts of the engine and transmission. The process involves heating an iron bar to about 2,300°F and rolling it between two synchronized forging dies that travel in opposite direction to create its final shape.

Rounding out that passion-driven pursuit for mastery and superior craftsmanship are Mazda’s production engineers, who studied and rejected more than 12,000 grinding stones needed to precisely sculpt the master metal molds. Unsatisfied with what they found, they ultimately made their own, enabling them to shave metal to a twentieth of the width of a human hair by hand. And you thought your job was hard.

Photos by Mazda


Shoemaking: No.One

In an era of self-lacing shoes, 3-D printed sneakers, and kicks made from futuristic materials, LA-based footwear brand No.One isn’t looking ahead for inspiration, but to the past. Specifically, to the same shoemaking techniques that cobblers employed on hard-bottom dress shoes for the past few hundred years.

Mark Gainor, footwear-industry veteran and founder of Venice Beach favorite No.One, understands that craftsmanship matters, so he made sure that his brand hand-lasts its shoes. With that attention to detail, however, comes a “good things come to those who wait” mentality for his customers. Each pair takes about two weeks to make, with a total of 14-17 pairs crafted at once. Luckily for Gainor, the hypebeast, sneakerhead crowd feeds off of such exclusivity and is more than happy to wait it out.

For the truly devoted, No.One also offers bespoke services, with material customization like vintage leather, rougher hides, and even leathers from the same supplier Hermès uses as an option. But be warned, those old school techniques come with a decidedly modern (read: aggressive) price tag.

Photos by No.One


Selvedge Denim: Loren

True to the oft-mocked stereotype, Brooklyn is the home of all things artisanal, and denim is no different. S, it’s no surprise that veteran designer Loren Cronk launched his own store—Loren Manufacturing Inc.—in Williamsburg in 2010, selling handmade jeans to the hipper-than-thou crowd.

In ring-spun, premium selvage denim from Japanese, American, and occasionally Italian-based mills, Loren jeans highlight the fabric’s beauty through simple washes and even yarns made from recycled plastic bottles. At Cronk’s studio, the Loren team chalks out the pattern on the denim and then cuts and sews it, allowing for an unfinished hem that can be finished right on the customer.

And while handmade denim is attractive to most, the cost is only accessible to some. A pair of Loren jeans can run anywhere from $300 to $500 dollars. The upside? Loren also offers denim repair, so you can get a lot of life out of your retail investment.

Photos by Loren Manufacturing


Handcrafted Hats: Worth Worth

Dedication to quality can be lost at the drop of a hat, but not if that hat has been made by esteemed NYC company Worth Worth. Founded in 1922, Worth Worth is one of the last three remaining custom hat makers in the country and has mastered its craft making upscale hats by hand—as well as bespoke topcoats and menswear.

Boasting refined handcrafted felt hats, vintage Ecuadorian panamas, and even hat repair, Worth Worth owes its excellence to proprietor and master craftsman Orlando Palacios. A former set designer, Palacios has traveled the world and been mentored by master hatters. He’s said the secret to a great hat is in the water. Soft water, to be exact.

“Ninety percent of what is done to a hat is done with water; key, too, is the finish—pouncing and sanding of the hat,” he says. “In Colombia, they sand with horse paper, in Italy, they use fine horse hair brushes. I’ve been to countries where they finish sanding with shark skin. The result of using these different methods meant that the fibers were becoming denser, tighter and softer.”

It’s granular attention to detail like that which may allow Worth Worth to stick around for another hundred years, no sweat.

Photos by Worth Worth

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