GEAR | General Knot Co. Travel Kits

Here's something I've filed under things I wish I thought of first. General Knot Co., probably most famous for their neckwear and pocket squares, recently started making travel kits from vintage fabrics. The American-made company based in Bedford, NY isn't phoning these in, either. The kits are made with tapes seams and water-resistant cotton canvas lining to protect from leaky bottles. Obviously the main event is the fabrics though—they've got a variety that ranges from 1950s bird dog prints to a South Asian indigo block print fabric that dates back to the 1900s. The other notable aspect is the roominess, at 10.5" long and 5" tall and wide, you won't have to cram to squeeze all your bathroom necessities in. Check out the complete range of travel kits right here.

GEAR | The Sling Backpack by Lotuff Leather

When it comes to investment pieces, it's always great when it can perform double-duty to get as much as you can for your dollar. Lotuff Leather, which designs and makes all luxury leather goods in Providence, R.I., has been on this blog before—we talked then about quality and durability and of course it still holds true today. Their latest piece that launched this month is The Sling Backpack ($850), a sophisticated hybrid that seamlessly converts from a backpack into a sling bag. The word seamlessly is used a lot when talking about convertible items, but this requires no unbuckling or threading, it just pulls through a ring in one single second and the change is complete. The bag comes in seven colors and can be monogrammed as well. I love how Lotuff's is so wholly dedicated to the longevity of their bags, they write: "The worst your bag will ever look is the first day you carry it."

GEAR | October Vibes

In my mind, there's no cozier month than October. Dark greens, navy blues, and bronzes all come out of the closet to mingle with falling leaves and cooler days. Even in sunny L.A., this is the month when summer finally ends and we start building fires on chilly nights. Here are our Autumn picks from The Reed for October. And, hey—15% off for blog readers through the weekend (ends 10/4) with the code RABBITRABBIT.

Starting at the top left corner: Brookes Boswell Bronze Wool Boro Hat ($170); Vintage Fairbault Tailgating Blanket ($69); Grundéns Swedish Brigg Rain Coat ($349); Brass Sporting Dog Figure ($49); Vintage 1981 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Toy ($29); GREI. Indigo Selvedge Scarf ($95); Armour Lux Slippers ($85); Joshu+Vela Olive Wax Utility Tote ($180); Woolpower Zip-Neck Base Layer ($125); Buck Products Mini Marsupial Backpack in Coyote ($120).

Keep up with new product releases and fun times on Instagram: @lgmetter & @the_reed_shop.

UNIFORM | The Camp Moc

Photo of Princess Caroline in the late 80s/early 90s via Simplicity City.

I'm always drawn to camp moccasins and driving mocs, probably because of their obvious menswear appeal, but have never felt like I could really pull them off without looking overly conservative or preppy. I stand completely corrected because Princess Caroline shows me how it's done with a long trench, a bandana headband and all black. I'll probably leave the white socks to the professionals though.

Top to bottom: Quoddy Dawson Moc ($300); Minnetonka Classic Driver ($54); Rancourt Camp Moc ($185).

GEAR | Buck Products Mini Marsupial Back Pack

I'm so excited to announce that The Reed is the first North American retailer to carry Buck Products' Mini Marsupial Back Pack ($120). Until now the Montana bag maker with a cult following has only sold these bags to the Japanese market, but we've got three great exclusive colorways in stock (in limited numbers): camo/peacock, navy blue and coyote. All the bags have a neon yellow interior with a laptop sleeve and large interior zip pouch. These bags are simply put: highly functional, well-made, and fun—and they're all sewn and constructed in Montana. More details available here.

AND! From now until Sunday we're offering 15% off to blog readers with the code FALL15. 

DESIGN | Nobl Acrylic Cacti

Just a fun mid-week distraction...I'm loving these acrylic cacti sculptures and table lamps by San Francisco-based artist Nobel Truong. Truong makes ceramics and furniture as well as prints and textiles in addition to her cacti lamps and sculptures. Her designs are inspired by Bauhaus architects and the Memphis Group—which I'm definitely seeing here. Prices range from $25-$59 and they're made in San Francisco—check them all out here.

Q&A | Kate McMahon of Kakoon

If you've been reading this blog lately, you've probably noticed that there's been a repeating theme that orbits around the virtues of staying small. This pertains to stores, manufacturers, makers, and it even came up this past weekend in Napa with a winemaker who keeps production purposely under a certain amount of cases so he can really be part of the process.

Kate McMahon, the founder of the Santa Barbara-based hand-knit sweater company Kakoon, is another perfect example of someone who believes smaller can definitely mean better. The sweaters are gorgeous and classic and, yes, knit by hand, which adds, I think, an intangible quality to a garment. In fact, as Kate and I emailed over the past month she sent along a Patti Smith quote that really resonated.
Kakoon has had a cult-following for years, but Kate recently opened a small (but mighty) space in Santa Barbara. We wanted to find out more about her philosophy and her brand as she's made this baby-step towards growth while very much intending to stay small. More from Kate below.
How did you get your start?

My mom taught me to knit when I was 16. I've been knitting ever since. In 1987, I was working in a small boutique in Santa Barbara wearing one of my sweaters and a clothing rep visiting from LA asked me who made it. When I answered that it was my own creation, she immediately took me on as a vendor. As a result I rented an historic renovated barn on a side street downtown and enlisted 15 contract knitters and a couple full time staff to help me produce the 450 sweaters we were making a month. That was 28 years ago... and the evolution of my small cottage business, known then as Kate McMahon, has morphed many times. 

Are all of your pieces still knit by hand?

Every sweater is hand knit by Ruth, my one knitter, and me. Ruth hand-looms each sweater and I do all the finishing work which includes ribbing (cuffs, collars, plackets, pockets, etc.), and sewing, attaching buttons and labels, and blocking.

Does the limitation of making sweaters by hand put a clear ceiling on what you can produce per season or per year?

My ability to produce is very limited due to the the hours that go into making each sweater. There are no shortcuts when all the tasks are done individually and by hand. Because of the attention and energy that is invested in the process, the sweaters are infused with a subtle quality that I believe can be felt by the wearer. It is quite a magical thing.

Have you ever considered how you would grow and scale larger or did you always want to stay small?

When I started my business I felt energized and unstoppable. I knew designing and knitting were my gifts and passion and I had a style people related to easily. I wanted to express myself in a big way. But luxury goods businesses are unique in that when times are tough sales plummet. It's not like everyone needs a $500 hand knit sweater. I experienced a couple significant economic down turns that caused me to adjust my business model, and taught me some valuable lessons. In the process I've refined my design aesthetic to reflect what I resonate with personally—elegance, simplicity, quality, and comfort—essentials for everyday. And I created a business model that enhances the quality of my life. I want to be inspired and challenged by my work. I want to show my kids how to be independent, passionate, and productive on their own terms. I want to make beautiful, timeless, and useful things that people appreciate and cherish.

I've always thought it's better to have a cult following than a huge following, what are your thoughts on that as someone who has a cult following?

So this leads to what I appreciate most about being small, and that's connecting with my clients one on one. The  nature of the custom design process allows me to know my clients personally, and I've grown to have a loyal following. It also helps to live in the community where I was born and raised. Some clients have been collecting my sweaters for 20 years. It's very satisfying to be involved in their lives over a long period of time. I guess you could say that at this moment I'm in the "cult" phase of my business, but that is not to say that i wouldn't welcome a bigger customer base. It would have to come without too much pushing though.

What's your biggest motivator?

My biggest motivator in doing any thing these days is to live a balance life. To have time for family, passion for work, energy to recreate, and ability to travel. Designing and knitting have afforded me all of these things and have been a constant source of pleasure.

Check out the Kakoon collection >> right here.

GIVEAWAY | Mohinders Flats

Back in July when we discovered Mohinders, we weren't surprised that people would really love them. Between my Mohinders and a Sabahs, they are the only shoes I really wear regularly anymore! It's pretty simple really: Mohinders are the best-made, most ethically produced huaraches on the market (in my opinion). So, why not give a pair away!? To enter the giveaway: leave a comment below and check out Mohinders on Instagram (@mohindersshoes) to learn more about the brand and what they've got coming down the pike. We'll announce the winner here Thursday evening (9/17)! Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner is Tara, we will email you shortly! Thanks everyone for all the great comments!

GEAR | Techné Watches

When it comes to field watches, there has certainly been a resurgence in the market over the past decade or so. There's the high-end American-made Weiss whose price tag flirts with a $1000; and on the other end of the spectrum you've got your mostly Chinese-made Timex that go as low as $40. In the middle though we've found a field watch sweet spot in Techné—the Swiss-designed (with Japanese quartz movements) watchmaker who is producing beautiful well-made unisex field watches for $120. Techné is a family owned company based in Grandson, Switzerland which is right in the Watch Valley between Geneva and Basel. We've got Techné's 245 Merlin Field Watch ($120) in stock at The Reed with two different straps. One is an orange NATO strap based on the specifications of the British Defense Ministry. The other is an Olive Green ZULU strap based on the specifications of the US Military. The colors are different but so are the lengths, for a refresher on the subtle difference between NATO and ZULU straps, check back to this post from 2012.

SCENE | Western Wyoming and Beyond

There are two parts of Wyoming that usually pop into people's heads when considering the Cowboy State: the posh and touristy Jackson Hole and the iconic Yellowstone National Park. But there's so much more to the least populated state in the union of course, and much of it unearthed and barely passed through by visitors. Jules Davies recently made a trip from the southeastern edge to the northwest into Montana by car and found so many cool spots, especially in Pinedale, a small town just over an hour outside of Jackson. Check out the latest travel guide added to The Reed: Rolling Through Wyoming which includes saddleries, hat shops, thrift stores and hot springs.  It's a good one!

UNIFORM | Tender Co. Chore Coats

If there's one push-and-pull to this blog (and what we're trying to do over at The Reed) it's figuring out how to champion items that are thoughtfully made, well-built, timeless and also come with an affordable price tag. It's really tough to find that intersection, especially when you consider fair wages, sustainable manufacturing and the thought and care that goes into a considered garment. Tender Co. is a great example of the anti-fast fashion movement, but are they expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Well, usually when you do the math on these kind of things, the investment pays off because you end up buying less and throwing away less. If you need a refresher on why the fast fashion movement is so incredibly problematic for the planet and human quality of life around the world, check out the recent Newsweek article The Environmental Crisis in Your Closet, it's very much worth a read. If there's ever an opposite response to the fast fashion crisis that I've seen, it's Tender—an incredible British label that goes way beyond with research, design, and manufacturing. This is slow fashion to the core. But make no mistake, these are products that are meant to be worn hard, not just fetishized. Tender has its roots in antique work clothing and machinery, particularly of the Great British Steam Age. The name Tender is derived from the part of a steam train that carried the coal and water to power the locomotive. Tenders were built incredibly solidly, mostly from riveted cast iron. In addition, on the water a Tender is the small boat used to get to and from the shore. The unisex chore shirt-jackets were what really caught my eye. They are a utilitarian—and I'm sure more than one of you will think of Bill Cunningham—with big deep front pockets, but also extremely versatile and stylish. With colors hand-dyed with woad indigo and ochre, all are made in England and cut from English-woven all-cotton cloth. Even the buttons are English-made from dead stock melamine. We're proud to carry Tender goods at The Reed!

SCENE | The Switchbacks of Norway

An incredible video to take you in to the weekend. [Thank you, Rachel].

GEAR | The Agnes Baddoo Crossbody Sac .5

You may remember a post two years ago introducing Agnes Baddoo's new line of natural leather tote bags. We talked about how her bags are not only beautiful but completely utilitarian, and also how they transform over time. The pinkinsh pale leather starts to soften and turn to a honey brown. The bags have become something of an anti-status symbol bag, and I love spotting them around town. Water stains and scuffs become badges of honor. Last weekend I saw quite a few of Baddoo's bags at an event and the one with the most wear and darkness got the most praise. Total bragging rights! Since launching her bag collection Agnes has expanded with canvas, and larger totes to create a full spectrum of bags, but her newest one is Sac .5, a cross-body box bag that leaves your hands free. I couldn't think of a better bag of hers to have at The Reed because it's so great for travel—as a camera bag or a bag-bag, plus there's a super handy back slit pocket which is perfect for your passport, train ticket or boarding pass. >> The Agnes Baddoo Crossbody Box Bag, is made in the U.S. and will last a lifetime.

SCENE | The Korean Spa

A few months ago my friend took me to Olympic Spa in Los Angeles, a traditional Korean Spa. I was blissfully unaware of the communal nudity that would occur and at first completely panicked. It took some deep breathing but I realized there really isn't much normal female nudity on view in the U.S. How are we to know what a normal naked body looks like? The spa visit became an insight for me and a great help to get a grip on realistic body image. I wrote about it for and think it ties to the idea of tomboy style and what kind of images the media feeds us and how that distorts our own view of what's OK when it comes to our bodies. >> Click here for the full story.