Clutch Monkey: Denim Vests With all the Trimmings

Raw denim Kickstarter campaigns are a heavily debated topic, one that polarizes denim heads between the potential of easier access to the fabric they love versus a disdain for a companies that focus on a love of money instead of a love of the craft. Fortunately, there are some cases where the product is unique and the makers’ hearts are in the right place.

Clutch Monkey has a background in children’s clothing, but their real love derives from the world of vintage choppers and motorcycle culture. Along these lines, they recently launched a campaign for their first product, the Dig Vest.

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Clutch Monkey’s Marc Bencivenga had searched high and low for the perfect vest but had long come up empty-handed. That’s when a friend showed him one from owned by his great uncle Bo (aka Dig or Digger).

Like many Americans, Dig returned to the United States after serving in World War II displaced and unable to reinsert himself into civilian normalcy. Consequently, he sought out community by forming his own motorcycle club. The club decorated Dig’s vest with the club’s colors and filled him with the fraternal love he had lost since the war. For the next four decades, the vest accompanied him on every motorcycle ride.

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With the story of motorcycle Americana still ruminating, Bencivenga set out to make a contemporary garment that paid tribute to Dig’s storied vest. The results are a set of six different vest options that all bear a heavy attention detail.

The buttons are individually cast in bronze and easily interchangeable. Umatilla pure virgin wool or Japanese blanket fabric line the vests for added warmth and comfort. The inner vest “pistol” and “cigarette/zippo” pockets are lined with waxed cotton for water repellent purposes and future patina, while the outer pockets are designed after Harley Davidson’s first vest in 1921.

A stamped Tanner Goods 7oz. bridle leather patch also functions as a motorcycle key pocket, the collar features traditional cafe races style, while selvedge lines accent the jacket below the front yoke, inner waistband, and waist tabs.

inside details

Clutch Monkey also picked high quality denims that match their extreme care on the details. Ranging from 14oz. to 17oz., they’ve sourced from Cone Mills in the US and Kuroki, Kurabo, and Nihon Menpu mills in Japan. Supporters can choose from a variety of colors or even mix and match denims on some of their models

One that really caught our eye was the Heavy Weight Oiler, a vest that certainly lives up to its name with a waxed 17.5oz red line Cone Mills denim. The coating gives it a leathery feel and a sheen like it’s been dipped in motor oil. As the wax wears off, the fading results should be something unique and eye catching.

Selvedge used for vests (Clockwise from upper left): Rad Japan, Heavy Weight American, Heavy Weight Oiler, The Black

Selvedge used for vests (Clockwise from upper left): Rad Japan, Heavy Weight American, Heavy Weight Oiler, The Black

10 Oz. Umatilla County wool lining (Above Four) and Japan made Poly/Wool Troy Blanket lining (below)

10 Oz. Umatilla County wool lining (Above Four) and Japan made Poly/Wool Troy Blanket lining (below)

Clutch Monkey set out to reach a $40,000 goal so they could handcraft their vests in San Francisco, and $80,000  in order to create a collection and gather input for the next endeavor. At the time of this being written, they had raised over $64,000, putting them in within reach of their ultimate goal. Good news for those interested in making a purchase, since any money down will be put into production.

But the details and fabrics listed above come at a price. All of the effort and resources used for production has pushed these vests to an expected retail price of over $600. The Kickstarter campaign offers each item at wholesale, ranging from $298 to $398 (the $200 and $211 Early Buzzard and Whisky Bones offers are already gone). If that isn’t a deterrent, it’s hard to imagine a vest more thought out that this one.

Check out their Kickstarter campaign soon, it ends on Wednesday, June 11th.

Forrest

Forrest

Forrest Old is a New Jersey-bred resident of an odd little city called Columbus, Ohio. A journalism graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, he spends his days deconstructing the shelves of Ohio's top bookstore, The Book Loft. At night, you'll most likely find him freelance writing while listening to a new vinyl record.

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  • Philip Che

    Not my cup of tea, but if i were a biker I would much rather wear this than a heavy denim or leather jacket in the summer.

  • Lou Foo

    Nice Job Forrest! Great story!