Want to be in our coffee table book?

028To celebrate 15 years of making hand-crafted goods in the USA, we are putting together a coffee table photo book featuring only well-worn Billykirk items.

It’s easy!  All you need to do is email us a photo of your item(s) to info@billykirk.com as well as a brief history of the item(s) for a chance to be featured. Belts, Wallets, Card Cases, Satchels, Bags…nothing will be excluded!  Each item will fill an entire 12”x12” page and your name and story will be mentioned below the photo.

If your item(s) is chosen, our friend and professional photographer, Tatsuro Nishimura, will photograph your item(s) in his studio in New Jersey and once it is photographed will be promptly returned to you.

For your participation, you will receive a personalized and signed copy of the book from founders and owners Chris and Kirk Bray.

Looking forward to seeing everyones well-used and well-loved Billykirk goods! See below for some good examples!

What’s in store for NYC Pop Up Flea (Dec 6-8): Q&A with Michael Williams


What if this year’s holiday shopping – and much of your personal shopping for the year – could be done in a weekend? That’s the thought behind menswear market Pop Up Flea. With its seventh installment set for this weekend in NYC’s Mercer Building, PUFs’ featured styles and merchandise are curated to fill every closet need, from shoes, belts and sweaters to carryalls and coats. The event unites stylish gents (and the people who shop for them) with an eclectic mix of designers over honest, well-crafted menswear. And the Flea is bigger this year than ever before. I had a chance to chat with Michael Williams, Pop Up Flea co-founder and creator of A Continuous Lean. Read on for what to expect at this year’s NYC Pop Up Flea this year, and Williams’ thoughts on why quality goods always go well together.

For the uninitiated, give us a Pop Up Flea primer: What made you and Randy Goldberg start this venture?

Billykirk Pop Up flea interview quote 1Randy and I were thinking about opening a store, but instead of opening a permanent store, we thought, “Let’s open it one weekend at a time.” Plus, people wanted to meet the designers behind the brands, not just merchants. It’s a shopping event and also a meeting place.

Each Pop Up Flea is a vehicle to get the word out about good designs, and the brands that were there in the beginning took a leap of faith to do this with us.

When the event started, it was sometimes associated with American-made heritage: Do you think that’s still part of Pop Up Flea’s culture?

It’s always been about the timelessness behind the brand. It’s not meant to be precious or to focus so much on where things are made – it’s about showing things that last.  We’re interested in showing that everything quality works well together. What would everyone want to wear, and what won’t ever go out of style?

We sort of think of it as, everyone good is there, and everything there is good. Good designs and good people. A lot of brands that come are friends of ours, and there’s a good natural selection of a lot of well-made things. We approach the vendor list asking, “What brands would we carry at a store?” It’s no such much a curation as how we would design our own closets.

If you only wanted to do one weekend of shopping per year, this would be a place where you could do it.

But you’re running the Flea a bit more frequently now: You just had your first London show, and this year’s NYC has the most vendors to date. How do you account for that growth?

Billykirk Pop Up Flea interview quote2There’s a lot of good stuff out there: It’s fun when you can get good brands and interesting people in one space. There’s something for everyone, whether you just come by or you’re there to shop. The London show was great.

For New York, we started with 12 vendors, and this year we have over 50 vendors. We’re really excited about the group we have. And 82 Mercer is classic open space, a huge loft: We’ve had an eye on it for quite some time and we’re finally at the point where it’s a big enough event to support it.

What can people look forward to at this year’s larger event?

We have some new vendors. Steven Alan is joining us for the first time, and New Balance and Shinola will be there. Shinola was with us in London – there is definitely some overlap. And we’ve also got some of the designers who have been with us since the beginning, like Billykirk.

I know this is Billykirk’s sixth Pop Up Flea.

Honestly, Chris and Kirk [Bray, of Billykirk] are the perfect embodiment of what we want Pop Up Flea to be – the way they’re involved in the company, their personalities. Having people come to the event to see their stuff and be able to meet them is perfect. The way they operate was part of what planted the seed for the event. We like what they make, we like what they stand for.

[See a preview of what Billykirk is showing at this year’s Pop Up Flea here.]

What are your plans for Pop Up Flea in the future?

We want to continue to expand and bring it to new places. We’re looking to add more cities next year, domestic and abroad.

Billykirk Pop Up flea interview quote 3

Pop Up Flea NYC is perfectly timed for holiday shopping: Any must-haves for someone shopping for a stylish guy at the Flea?

I try not to shop at all! All I do is talk about clothes. But one of the ways I manifest all of that is by organizing this event. Everything there is going to represent the strongest collection of brands you’ll find in New York City.

If you’re in the NYC area, check out Pop Up Flea Dec 6-8 at 82 Mercer. Full event details here, and be sure to say hello to Billykirk.

Richmond Canals: A historic look into American-made goods

Billykirk 8.16 Richmond canals

It’s always refreshing when our mission of designing American-made items is reflected back to us through the U.S. landscape. While in Richmond last month for Northern Grade – a show centered on locally sourced merchandise  – we explored the local canal running through the city, built to source materials throughout Virginia and create a hub or local commerce.

The James River and Kanawha Canal was originally a pet project of George Washington (before he was president), in the hopes of making Virginia an economic powerhouse. The water system helped local artisans supply goods from one region of the rugged terrain through the next. His vision was to reach the Mississippi. Even after he died, building continued. They built 198 miles worth of canals before the steam engine and locomotives made this form of transport obsolete. (More here.)

Billykirk 6.16 Richmond canals 2

In their time, the canals served a clear commerce purpose. Even rendered unnecessary in the face of 1830’s steam engines, they were used in the Civil War. Richmond has revitalized some of them, and on top of their utility, they’re quite nice to take in. Looking at them today, we see the spirit of what they aimed to achieve is still present. The canals have been restored in new and interesting ways beyond their original use: They have a lasting impact that’s been passed down across generations. And they flourish in a city that seems to embody the principle of local commerce and preservation.

Billykirk 8.16 Richmond restored spaces

While in town for Northern Grade, we found Richmond has an abundance of reclaimed buildings that play with form and function to create lasting spaces. Local brand Ledbury’s office is in a former tobacco warehouse, and the event itself was held in a former power plant, acting temporarily as a powerhouse for American products.

While our leather bags, wallets, etc. are not impervious to weathering, they’re built to have a cross-generational impact: We think they look pretty good right next to the Richmond canal pipelines. (Customer Casey models our brush brown carryall).Billykirk brown carryall

You can read more about what we saw at NorthernGrade in our related blog post, and check out the all-American products we had on display in this season’s Lookbook.

Jersey City Studio Tour: Oct 4-6

Kirk Bray Jersey City studio tour

Billykirk’s very own Kirk Bray will take part in this year’s Jersey City Artists Studio Tour. This marks the twenty-third year of the event, hosted by the Division of Cultural Affairs, Pro Arts Jersey City and Jersey City artists, themselves.

The Studio Tour kicks off on October 4 with a music celebration at Jersey City’s Tenmark Building, and features open studios from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Jersey City Independent has provided an online map for people interested in hitting all the vibrant stops on the tour. While Kirk’s studio is separate from the Billykirk leather and design studio, you’ll see some familiar pieces in his place.

Here’s a sneak peek of Kirk’s studio, at 140 Bay Street. You can also see more of Kirk’s original work as featured in our Fall 2013 Lookbook.

Kirk's studio Jersey city

Also, be sure to check out our good friend Agnes de Bethune’s work (see below). Her large scale realistic oil paintings are up at the Tenmarc Building and her studio on Halladay St.

Agnes de Bethune studio tour

Inside Look: Northern Grade, Richmond

Northern Grade Richmond

Billykrik bags Northern Grade

This weekend in Richmond, Billykirk is at menswear market Northern Grade – an event bringing together brands focused on good design and all American manufacturing. Northern Grade started as a celebration of Minnesota-area heritage brands in husband and wife founders’ Katherine and Mac McMillan’s community, ones that tailored to the “woodsman” look. And now it’s evolved to include new styles (and new cities) that share an American-made philosophy.

Need Supply Co. worked with Northern Grade to host the event in the American-made Power Plant at Pixall Hall (see far above image). We wanted to share a preview of our collection as seen at the event, as well as items from other brands that caught our eyes.

On hand at Northern Grade are some pieces from our newest collection (which can be found in our Lookbook, and available for purchase on the site soon). This season, we’ve got Amish-sourced leather belts in new cuts, limited edition black and blue plaid carryall bags and limited edition plaid briefcases. We’re also showing some of our latest Women’s collection – including our handmade leather wristlets and leather pouches.

Billykirk Collection at Northern Grade

Northern Grade also gives us the chance to customize pieces directly for people at the show. We monogrammed a number of items on site, including our leather key tag (see below).

Customizing at Northern Grade

There are plenty of designers showcasing their work first hand at the event. We had the chance to meet up with Jacky of Jacky Flav’s cutting hair at the event (below).

Jacky Flav's Northern Grade

One of our fellow featured designers is newcomer Shockoe Denim (below), local to Richmond. With names like The Old Boy and The Drugstore Cowboy, made of raw material sourced from North Carolina, their denim fits right in at Northern Grade. They’re showing copper rivets in a mix of black-coated, gunmetal and classic copper with hand stitching.

Shockoe Denim Northern Grade

Another local Richmond brand at the event: Ledbury. They make an array of tasteful clothing, and we took some time to head over to their main storefront in a converted tobacco warehouse (below). Good-looking shop with good-looking lightweight, high wale count corduroys on hand this season.

Ledbury store Northern Grade

Appalatch offered a unique find – incredibly soft 100% wool from North Carolina (below). Barely a year old, they’re a beautiful wool goods company, offering t-shirts worth a closer look.Appalatch

Day two is coming to a close, and we’re ready to see what else is in store from the Northern Grade-featured U.S. manufacturers. Be sure to also check out this all-American view from the venue of a passing freight train.

View from Northern Grade