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The Flat Head


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10 hours ago, Cold Summer said:

Just a couple shots of TFH things I’ve worn recently in WAYWT posts. 
 

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Your posts are really making me want a Flat Head shirt. I tried a western style one on at Self Edge some years back but found I couldn't pull off the athletic cut (wide shoulders, tapered from chest down). Since I'm in better shape now I ought to try again. 

Edited by CSL
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I certainly benefit from being tall and thin. Aside from the fact that I like their details and design the best, it works out nicely that TFH shirts fit my body type the best, generally. I've tried lots of shirts by other brands that fit like potato sacks and the arms were still too short.

Although a lot of folks complain about the shoulders being too wide, I've come to embrace this aspect of their shirts and like the V-shape silhouette better than the narrow shoulders on some other brands.

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 Cross-post from the leather thread, showing off my TFH wallet rig. I bought the key holder directly from TFH almost three years ago. The long wallet I found on Mercari. I like how nicely the patina lines up, even though the wallet is cordovan and the key holder cowhide.

1 minute ago, Cold Summer said:

Here’s my wallet stuff. 

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  • Flat Head Shinki cordovan long wallet
  • Flat Head harness leather key holder
  • Old Point box weave kangaroo leather chain (similar to ones TFH used to make)

 

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@Cold Summer great pics & posts, Kyle. Thanks! 

I know I'm a TFH fan boy, but they're goods are really in a league of their own. 

But... the front pockets on their jeans are the absolute worst. Literally unusable. 

Edited by mpukas
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On 12/30/2023 at 12:02 AM, mpukas said:

@Cold Summer great pics & posts, Kyle. Thanks! 

I know I'm a TFH fan boy, but they're goods are really in a league of their own. 

But... the front pockets on their jeans are the absolute worst. Literally unusable. 

The pocket openings on my 3005s, 3003xx, and 1005 are decent sized. They're not gigantic, but usable enough. This does seem to be an issue on the slimmer fits, no idea why the openings are cut like that.

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With a zippo in my coin pocket, I literally can't even fit my hand in the front right pocket of my 3009s 🤣 

That said, the pocket bags themselves are nicer than most other pairs in my closet.

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On my 3009, which I sized up and are possibly the best fitting jeans I've ever worn, the pockets openings are so small and cut so high to the waist band that I can barely fit my hand in them. The pocket bags are very shallow, and are made of thin material. I dream of Roy's heavy canvas pocket bags, how they were cut and stitched.

My RJBxR&H RFR-004 pocket openings are slightly better than the 3009, but not by much. The pocket bags are of a rather thin material and do not feel durable. Luckily since the pocket openings are nearly useless, I don't put many things in them that may wear them out. 

As amazing as TFH is in most regards, their pocket openings and pockets bags leave a lot to be desired. 

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@mpukas You could get them altered for a bigger front pocket opening. You'll lose the original rivets (and probably also pocket bags), but a place like Indigo Proof can do it. I had it done on my 3005XXX a couple years ago, at the same time I needed new pocket bags, and it definitely improved the comfort of the front pockets.

I agree with you though, my 3009s had annoying small front pocket openings too.

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On 1/3/2024 at 3:58 PM, Cold Summer said:

Cross-post from WAYWT, showing my new TFH leather jacket.

Amazing jacket. Beautiful Shinki horsehide, great design, construction, details, and perfect fit. Couldn't be more pleased.

Is that the Riders jacket? I have the same one in the brown/red Shinki. A beautiful jacket.

And I agree, TFH shirts are exemplary as mentioned by @mpukas. Pity their jeans don't work for me.

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48 minutes ago, Cold Summer said:

That's right @Tapori, it's their current production single riders jacket. I should take some detail shots of it; quite beautiful, inside and out.

@Cold Summer My mistake. I have the horsehide rider's jacket - Brown from 2015. (I got it mixed up with another jacket).

It's got the zip sleeves. They were really long, so I sent it to Aero Leathers and they took two inches off the sleeve length. Did a fantastic job. 

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  • 1 month later...

Here’s my Flat Head FNW-61W shirt in size 42, which I recently picked up from eBay. I’d gotten another one of these from Japan a couple months ago, but it was a little small, so I was quite excited when one of these showed up in 42. For me, this is one of the best shirts Flat Head ever made, and that’s saying something.

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In addition to being a beautiful and impressive shirt in its own right, it’s pretty significant because it was an integral part of early Self Edge history, being one of the first shirts they sold, and featured prominently in their first look book, which you can still see on their site. The way Self Edge and Superfuture adopted this shirt (for instance, Sidney Lo, who prominently wore it in his WAYWT photos) was pretty revolutionary, taking something which had rockabilly vibes in its original context, and basically turning it into streetwear. Of course I was still a few years away from discovering the exciting world of specialty denim back in 2007, but all this ended up being pretty influential in retrospect. The recent Self Edge editorial about the Imperial collab went into all this, and it was pretty insightful since I’d previously been stuck trying to piece it all together from reading old forum threads long after the fact.

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My own approach is a little different, as I’m generally tucking it in and wearing with engineer boots and leather jackets for more of a “mid-century rancher gone off the rails” vibe, but I really appreciate how such a distinct-looking shirt can be dressed up or down into various styles.

The design of this shirt is really great, it has a single yoke pattern and slanted single-button pockets, similar to Flat Head’s 7001 denim shirt. Flat Head also offered this shirt over the years with various combinations of split yoke and sawtooth pockets, as well as a lot of different color combinations, but I think this original iteration, in the Ivory/Black colorway, is the very best. In the past, I owned the circa 2011 split yoke version of this shirt, and the Ivory/Green one. I ended up regretting selling both of them, but this one makes up for it.

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This shirt has all the goodies you know and love from Flat Head: a custom houndstooth flannel woven on a shuttle loom, 100% cotton stitching, and terrific sewing courtesy of double-needle chain stitching and single-needle accents at the pockets and yoke. It features a ton of felled seams, and selvedge side gussets. I don’t know this for certain but it was probably made by Nakajima Housei, the Gunma prefecture sewing factory that made most of Flat Head’s shirts. 

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The sewing is one of the areas where Flat Head really shines. When you compare to something like an Iron Heart flannel, Flat Head shirts have a distinctly “hand-made” sort of feel, between the vintage machinery and techniques used, and the all-cotton stitching. The double-needle parts of the shirt have a bulge between the stitches, giving a pleasing three-dimensional touch, and the pattern alignment is extremely impressive and well done as well. Flat Head always excels at this, and it’s really on display with a shirt like this, which has such a bold, distinct pattern. 

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The shirt features Flat Head’s “Original Wear” serif name tag at the collar, rather than their shorthorn Western Wear tag, which is maybe a bit surprising, but I think the shorthorn tag was only used for non-flannel shirts, which could explain it. Usually the snaps are branded Universal, but these say Crown; they may be a Universal reproduction of a specific vintage snap. The buttons are a dark mother-of-pearl sort material with a distinct, deep green sheen depending on how the light hits, pretty hard to capture in photographs. This early version had a two-button cuff, while the subsequent iterations over the next couple of years had three. All the buttons snap hard, with no sign of wearing out anytime soon.

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In 2013 Flat Head redesigned their houndstooth flannel with a bigger pattern, heavier weight, and brushed interior, which made it feel quite similar to an Iron Heart flannel. I owned the Turquoise/Ivory western, which I got when I worked for them in 2013-14. Although exciting at the time, since then I’ve decided that this original iteration was much better and I wish they’d bring it back.

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If you go back and read the early Flat Head and Self Edge threads it was pretty controversial when a casual shirt showed up costing $150+ and a lot of people weren’t convinced. It seems pretty quaint now, where it’s almost normal in this sphere to spend $350 on a shirt. But in my opinion, this shirt is better designed and more interesting than those pricier new shirts. Here’s my advice if you see one of these shirts come up for sale in your size: get it.

 

 

Edited by Cold Summer
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Exactly, I had IH in mind but there are some others too. There are a lot of people out there with a lot of IH flannels, not just one or two.

I like nice shirts, obviously, but I tend to buy them used. Most of the TFH shirts I've picked up in the last couple years were used and less than $100.

Edited by Cold Summer
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It didn’t quite feel fair to describe anyone who regularly buys IH for international MSRP as “normal”…

Most of what feel like the nicest shirts on the market, within our little sphere, top out at closer to $250, and many are much less

All the same, you’re right that it’s a big jump up from where we were at (or where those of you were at who were always present at the time) 15 years ago

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True, though also keep in mind that in recent times the USD/Yen exchange rate has been extremely favorable for us who often buy direct from Japan, but for many years over the past 10-15 or so, it hasn't been, so Japanese shirt prices were much higher all around at various points in the past. Also, for folks in places like Europe and Australia, when you do the math a nice shirt is often $300+ MSRP, so I think it's still broadly applicable.

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Here’s my Flat Head 6002W denim jacket in size 44. I bought it used off Yahoo Auctions Japan last summer. It showed some slight fading on the front placket, and some broken stitches on the “rectangles”holding down the pleats, but otherwise looked nearly new, with no signs of wear on the arms. 

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The denim felt stiff and crunchy after a cold wash. I’ve put about 2.5 months of actual wear into it, and it’s breaking in pretty much like a fresh jacket would.

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This jacket is awesome, probably my favorite-fitting denim jacket I’ve worn so far. Thanks to the slightly wide shoulders, the sleeves are actually long enough, which is usually the issue I have with denim jackets. The chest measurement is just right, and the width of the body and sleeves likewise. I wish it was maybe an inch or so shorter in length, but it’s not a big deal.

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The denim is Flat Head’s usual 14.5 oz, which lends itself well to a denim jacket. The weight is just right, and it’s well suited for pretty much all-season wear, over T-shirts, long sleeves, and flannels.

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One somewhat surprising detail is the patch sewing. On every other 6002 I’ve seen, the patch is sewn with contrast stitching, the outline clearly visible on the back of the jacket, but this one is sewn with navy thread, making it “invisible” when seen from behind. I’m really curious why this was. Was the patch removed and re-sewn at some point? Why would somebody do that? There’s not actually any indication it was removed or “tampered” with, otherwise the jacket is just like any other TFH denim jackets I’ve seen/handled.

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I’m not sure exactly when the jacket dates from. It has iron buttons so it’s not from earlier than the late 2000s when TFH switch from coated zinc (?) to their current iron buttons, but this model has been discontinued for a long time, so I’d guess early 2010s.

All in all, great jacket, especially for the price I paid (around $130 or so), well below typical for a new denim jacket from a Japanese brand. I’m sure their current production Type IIs are excellent as well, but I especially like stuff from the “original” Flat Head era.

Edited by Cold Summer
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I’ve read these last few posts a number of times. I like the passion you have for your possessions, I’m a lot less keen on the spurious comparisons and justifications which just aren’t needed.

As others have noted, using a potentially overpriced brand to demonstrate good value is unsound; as is trying to extrapolate currency trading values over a long period (nevermind then confusing things further with other countries).

Much as I’ve admired fabrics and the ‘look’ of Flat-Head shirts - I find the sizing / cut almost nonsensical. I’m probably the computer designed ‘average’ build … well maybe a bit less so these days … but never have I found a Flat-Head shirt that fits (I’ve tried a few). It tells me a lot that someone of your build needs a 44.

One question about that shirt in particular - why do the front yokes and pockets have fabric running in different directions?

 

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No flaming intended but I agree, but couldn't put into words as well as Duke. Your passion is infectious and I welcome your regular activity/input but you sometimes portray your opinions as fact with some clear 'prejudice' in your posts. Just enjoy your gear mate and don't over analyse above our already OCD levels of over analysis of jeans and shirts!

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I wouldn't exactly describe myself as having a "passion for my possessions." It's all just stuff that one day will fall apart, or get lost, or stolen, or whatever. But I do spend a lot of time in/using my clothes, which leads to more time observing/thinking about it. I have a nice electric bass that should be much more engaging than my denim jacket or whatever, but I hardly ever use or interact with it at this stage of life, so I'm generally pretty apathetic about it. Same goes for my car, I spend so little time driving that I could never be a "car guy." But I spend a lot of time wearing clothes. I guess to me, it makes sense that I'm going to scrutinize stuff that I use and experience the most.

It's more like I'm trying to apply my OCD attention to detail to illuminate some aspects I think are compelling which hopefully leads to making more interesting content than just posting pictures and such. Particularly in this thread where there's not a lot of posting nowadays, I like to think sharing my impressions might give many people on here who have some TFH stuff from back in the day a newfound appreciation for it.

Especially when it comes to something like shirts; it feels like there's a ton of stuff out there on minor differences of 501XX jeans from different eras and how accurately/inaccurately particular details are reproduced, or changed. It's not that I don't find this interesting, but it's been pretty thoroughly explored at this point, and I guess I find that scrutinizing other stuff (like on shirts) is more interesting to me, and the justification behind why X shirt costs a lot of money seems to be "it's super heavy and Made In Japan, bro." Obviously I feel like there's a lot more to it than that, and that's what I've touched on a bit here. My polemic (if you can even call it that) is pretty mild compared to some prominent content-creators in the community who often present opinion as fact, and my impressions are based on direct comparison to things I've owned myself. Plus, in the post on the houndstooth shirt, at the end, I did say that this was just my opinion 😉

My interest in the denim hobby had pretty much stalled out until I discovered I could find lots of great stuff from the "golden age" of Flat Head and similar brands on Japanese auction and resale sites for often comically low prices (at least, on occasions when things in my size would come up for sale), in nice condition. Maybe this isn't relevant to everybody out there, but as a married guy with two kids, I don't have as much cash to spend on the clothing hobby as I once did, so I want to make my dollar go as far as it can, and get more for my money. This shouldn't come across as bragging either, as I did nothing special to get this stuff, not even really utilizing my Japanese language skills; I got almost everything through Buyee, an English-language site which consolidates Yahoo Auctions, Mercari, and others into a single proxy, where I just searched for stuff that interested me. I feel this aspect is more analogous to thrift store treasure hunting where finding cool stuff for cheap is part of the fun.

Anyway, in regards to sizing, this jacket runs small. Normally I'd wear a 42, which is my size in most TFH tops (though particularly in short sleeves a 40 often fits me just fine.) This is the only TFH thing in size 44 I've ever owned. 42 usually corresponds to a US Medium. Out of the Japanese brands TFH tends to fit me the best since I'm tall and slim, and prefer the western shirts and their detailing, but the "work" style shirts are generally much boxier and fit more like shirts from any other brand. TFH usually made both styles for a given fabric. I find that people are almost universally talking about the western shirts when criticizing Flat Head's cuts. A lot of other brands out there have very short sleeves for my chest/shoulder size, even if I size up, so I appreciate that Flat Head's general design works good for me.

That's actually a great question about the pockets and yoke on the houndstooth shirt. The body of the shirt features the fabric at a straight angle, while the pockets and yoke are slanted 45 and -45 degrees, where the left pocket matches the angle of the opposite/right side yoke, and the right pocket/left yoke, vice versa. I think it's probably done like this because it makes the design of the pockets and yoke more visually distinct, whereas if it was all matching the same direction as the body of the shirt it would all blend together. It's pretty normal for flannel shirts to have the pocket fabric at a 45/-45 degree angle, it's just less obvious that's what's going on here because it's a houndstooth fabric instead of a grid-like check pattern. 

Edited by Cold Summer
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That’s a big response which I think demonstrates the passion I mentioned - I don’t care for sematics, so you can call it for what makes you happy. That’s cool.

It’s great you take the time to energise a thread that’s seen little action, that’s a credit to you, and there should be no one here who can’t appreciate that.

There’s a good history to the brand so it seems you’ve plenty of mileage left to keep this going.

I’d still argue their patterns are difficult - I wasn’t referring solely to the Western, the Work Shirts were far too narrow in the body for me (esp. in relation to sleeve length et al) - but they definitely suit some builds, I can immediately think of one.

 

 

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