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Filtering by Tag: fashion

Maker | Greenwich Vintage

Heath Stiltner

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He's just a small-town man from the Midwest, Minnesota that is. He was raised in farm country and his dad worked hard to make a way for his family. Like his dad, he provides for family and is a husband to his wife and a father to his children. He's a cobbler by trade, working with his hands every day to mend the timeworn boots and shoes of his customers. He tries to teach his children the importance of shopping smarter, buying American-made products that support local and national jobs. He dresses each day like a man should, oxfords laced, collared shirt tucked into his chinos, and he makes sure his hair is coiffed neatly in place before leaving the house. This man isn't living in the 1950s, he's very much a modern man. His name isn't Ward Cleaver, it's Tomas "Zen" Pomazi and he is helping America redefine what it means to be a postmodern man.

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Zen is the owner of Greenwich Vintage Co., a company devoted to rehabilitating old worn out shoes to create a shoe that is as comfortable and colorful as it is classy. Zen grew up an artistic kid, after high school he went to an art institute and worked as a professional graffiti artist for many years while working in retail. "I've always loved art," says Zen, "I have always been someone who has to create art. I worked in professional graffiti for years, painting murals for companies and stores. It was the creative outlet to my job in retail for skate shops and sneaker companies."

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It was when he started to feel unfulfilled in that career that he started a pursuing a new passion. Bringing his knowledge of footwear through retail to the table he started to make customized shoes for himself and then other clients. "I grew up in the skate community where it was natural to graffiti your clothes, boards, and shoes. I thought it would be a lot of fun to see my own art on shoes. I'm a shoe freak - you can ask my wife, it kills her - and I couldn't think of a better piece of wearable art than a pair of customized sneakers," Zen laughs. 

Zen says he reached the pinnacle of his customized sneaker venture in 2008 when he and a few friends attended the release of the Nike Bordeaux 7 Jordan in shoes the he had designed for himself and his friends. "I had studied the shoes before their release and I thought it would be neat to take the color scheme they used on the unreleased Jordans and adapt it to several pairs of Nike Air Max sneakers." People went crazy over the concept and Zen made a name for himself in the customized sneaker industry, getting several requests from professional athletes after that for their own customized sneakers.

After that, Zen says he felt like doing someone different, "Until then, I was still goofing around. I was very much a late bloomer and I realized at about 42 or 43 that it was time I traded in the sneakers for a pair of grown-up shoes." With that in mind, Zen started a men's shop with a couple of his friends, including his Greenwich Vintage partner Max, to create a men's brand that still allowed grown men to add a little excitement to their closets.

However, he didn't discover his calling until one very uncomfortable pair of Florsheim lace-up oxfords led him to the shop of a cobblesmith nearby. "I went to work one day in a new pair of Florsheim oxfords and by lunch time I was miserable. They were the most painful shoes I had ever owned, but I didn't know how to fix them." Zen had worked with shoes for years, customizing the upper, but he had never experimented with the soles until that day. Shoes in tow, Zen asked the cobbler if he had any secrets for fixing shoes with uncomfortably hard soles. The cobbler took him to the back room and showed him a black Vibram crepe sole and asked if he wanted to replace the stiff wooden sole with it. Zen studied under the cobbler, learning the proper way to replace and repair soles. With his newfound knowledge, Zen started making shoes for himself and his coworker Max, honing his new skills as a cobbler. Both he and Max saw the potential of the shoes on the market, catering to a man who wanted a mix of unique street style and classic menswear. Putting together a small investment of his own savings and Max's, Zen contacted Vibram about the option of buying their crepe soles in colors other than the standard white or black, but after learning that he couldn't buy the colors he desired, he bought the right to mold the existing soles and make his own.

Now Greenwich Vintage Co. is known for those self-poured and designed soles, ranging in color from blaze orange, turquoise, and camouflage. Taking custom orders from customers, Zen is able to transform any old, tired shoe into a one-of-a-kind piece of art for his clients. Zen has also worked with General Knot & Co. To start redesigning the uppers of his clients shoe. Using vintage and vintage inspired fabrics from Andrew Payne, Zen can cover the leather to give his customers footwear that they can personalize with vintage floral, plaid, and other textiles.

His latest ventures have allowed him to add a few new accessories to the postmodern American man's wardrobe. Partnering with Kent and Lee Begnaud and Nathan O' Malley of Leatherworks Minnesota, Zen created a signature pair of reversible leather braces for the Fall/Winter season featuring a camouflage design on one side. This is just the beginning of several collaborative efforts that Zen is working on to outfit his customers from head to toe. Zen says that, "Being able to partner with talented designers and artisans is allowing Greenwich Vintage Co. to let men dress like men." When men were men, that is the ideal that Zen pursues through Greenwich Vintage Co. each and every day. Like Ward Cleaver, Zen is teaching us the principles and life lessons concerning menswear that the American public has forgotten in the last 30 years. This isn't to say that he envisions a world without tshirts and jeans, in fact he wears them also, instead he sees a world where men can recapture that age old style of our forefathers of the early 20th century with a little added flair.

For more information about Zen and Greenwich Vintage Co. and to see their resole options, check out their website at www.greenwichvintage.us or follow them on Instagram—@grnwchvntgco.

Maker | Ssek Jewelry

Heath Stiltner

 

Q&A:

How did you get started with jewelry making?

Jewelry making began in my head, every time I walked into a fast fashion retail store (e.g. Zara, Accessorize and the works.) Eventually I bought so many accessories, I figured perhaps I could start making them! The beginning pieces started off as gifts— then eventually my partner suggested selling these, and it's only been progress since.

Were you always interested in fashion? Jewelry design?

I've always been interested in fashion, but timeless fashion, and fashion that works. I don't like following trends just for the sake of it. If I think it looks good in another 10 years, then that's really good fashion. Also, given living in Singapore where it's 30 deg celsius every day, tees and shorts work fine. The only thing that's variable to me is the accessorising, and that's what I wanted to make a difference in.

Why jewelry? When did you first fall in love with it?

You can wear a simple white tee and shorts, but the kind of jewellery you wear decides what kind of look you're going for. Laying my eyes on a beautiful piece of jewellery is like listening to an exquisite harmony, to me. The different textures, lengths, colour combinations, and how they contribute to the flow of the jewellery when you move— is like a little piece of magic.

Jewelry to me isn't just something material, nor is it a status symbol. It is a man made reminder of what wonderful things our brain and heart can do when we see anything beautiful in the world.

How do you get ideas for new designs?

Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, but I seem to draw most of my ideas from nature, as cliché as it sounds. What greater designer and artist than Mother Nature? The colour gradients in petals, the colour combination and contrasts in butterflies, how leaves float on their branches, the textures of wood. 

What are your inspirations?

Initially I was greatly inspired by JewelRocks, a Balinese brand that wove tradition and modernity into their jewellery design. They are classy yet playful, and it struck a note with me. Right now my inspirations include potters Shino Takeda and Red Raven Studios because of their unique colour palettes, as well as illustrators like Leah Goren.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

My hobbies include small scale pottery and making music. Theory and rules create the basic backbone for these activities, but the true beauty is when you feel it in your heart. A silhouette of a vessel may be imperfect to others but to you it looks unique and refreshing. In music, jazz is always full of improvisation and weird keys but they work like magic! These "perfect imperfections" have influenced my jewellery a great deal. I don't conform to standard colour palettes and if one colour should go with another— I'm always challenging myself to have different contrasts in my jewellery, be it in colours or in textures.

What has been your biggest lesson?

To be proud of my business. I'm still learning. Up till now whenever I talk about what I do, I'm always adding a disclaimer: "I know it's an idealistic thing to do…" but I should really stop that.

I'm still learning to be more confident and to truly believe from my insides. Slowly but surely I'm becoming a better salesperson and a more positive businesswoman— although I may be treading water in the deep sea. 

What's your favorite thing about sharing your styling and photography?

My favourite thing about sharing my photography is providing my customers (and potential customers) an experience. To show that handcrafted jewellery have personalities, have homes where they come from, have stories, and have been created with meaning and purpose. 

What's been your best advice you've been given?

To be shameless. My mantra used to be "Good things to come". It's a pleasant thing to hear, but the world isn't that nice. I want something, I have to go get it. So in the words of Ruby Anemic's neon light exhibit in 2013, "No Guts No Glory".

What's been your biggest challenge?

Financing this business. I've yet to have investors, and I am challenging myself to be as self sustainable as possible. I'm inching closer to reach my goals— not just for me, but to improve my customer experience and quality of my goods. If I could reach my goals in half the time that might be great, but I'm not sure if I'd learn as much if I did. We'll see!

Authentic Lives | Dusty St. Amand

Heath Stiltner

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Fifty NYC Hotel, NYC.

Meet Dusty, a model and photographer currently living in NYC but who is moving to LA soon. He's been an instagram friend for over a year and this weekend I—Heath (@afieldguy)—was finally able to meet and shoot him while in NYC.

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This shoot is a mix of fashion images I shot of Dusty for FOLK, and a few skin portraits for my new series, Brief Explorations, as well as a quick interview with Dusty.

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Interview with Dusty:

Question: When/how did you first start modeling?

Dusty: I started modeling so that I could be around artists. I’d spent a long period of time without something to say and without a medium to say it, even if I did. A few years ago, as I was coming out a relationship, I realized that sharing my image was a way of participating in global conversations about sex, queerness, hair, and modern digital expression. 

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Q: What is your favorite adventure you've ever been on?

D: My recent trip to Los Angeles is still buzzing in my mind. I went alone, functioned at my own pace, and got to know incredible people.

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Q: What is your best fitness tip?

D: Diet. When you cut the amount of effort you put into knowingly toxifying your body, you in turn cut the amount of time spent ridding the body of those effects. This allows the body to rest, restore, and continue thriving into old age.

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Q: What is your biggest vice?

D: Social Media can be a tool and vice. There are times when I have to get my phone away from my hand because it’s taking too much of my energy.

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Q: What does 'home' mean to you?

D: Home is where I feel I can be vulnerable or flawed, while being supported and loved. That can exist in bonds between lovers, in moments of camaraderie at work, or in physical places that hold my things.

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Q: How will your moving to LA change that?

D: Moving to LA is a reminder for me to always remain focused on personal happiness and creative work. I’m placing myself in a new circumstances so that I feel ascendant and, in turn, feel much happier (and “at home” just with myself, my actions, and dreams).

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To see more of my work, including an upcoming blog post of this series' images, visit my website at www.afieldguy.com or my Instagram—@afieldguy.

Special thanks to Dusty for being an amazing and inspiring model. You can find more of his work on his Instagram—@dusterz—and order prints of his own amazing photography on his website www.suchdustyphotos.com.

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