In 2005, Matt and Bram Robinson opened a store in Toronto, Canada that specialized in military-inspired clothing constructed in-store. Now, they hope to bring their product and some construction to the US by opening a store in New York City, and they are using Kickstarter to fund the effort.
Deriving it’s name from the horn used on submarines in naval drills (the one that makes the loud “KAYOOGAH” noise), the Klaxon Howl label has garnered a bit of a cult following north of the border in Toronto.
I reached out to the Robinsons about writing a review, and they sent me a few items to look at. The arrangement is for me to return all but one of the shirts following the review, although as of this writing they are sitting all in a box in my office.
Those items included two flannel button downs, a chambray button down, a T-shirt, and the Klaxon Howl “Signature Watch-Cap.”
My personal approach to putting together an outfit doesn’t include wearing T-shirts outside of layering, or the gym. This print design was inspired, as KH Founder Matt Robinson explained in an email, by a photo of a US-Navy Seabee Sailor in the 98th Naval Construction Battalion (left). The sailor wore a shirt with a similar design to this one by Jack Kellogg. The monster style was updated to a darker style inspired by Ed Roth, and the Da Nang tag at the bottom of the shirt shows a separate deployment to Viet Nam in 1965.
|This Vietnam Era monster by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth
is a contributor to this T-shirt design.
While this shirt’s design is full of meaning, I don’t find it stylistically appealing. But in terms of construction, this shirt is excellent. Made using a tubular design like the Velva Sheen shirts my brother wrote about last year, these shirts have no seams down the sides. The cotton is a little stiff, but it looks like the print design is actually dyed onto the top layers of the cotton. This means that instead of simply being printed using an acrylic that will come off over time, this design should stay on the shirt for a very long time without cracking off. The internal stitching of the T-shirt uses very tightly assembled stitches, and the shoulder seams are reinforced with a narrow piece of extra fabric.
Chambray is a woven fabric that assembles a colored warp with a white weft, giving the fabric a mottled look. Because the fabric is woven at a 1:1 ratio, the front and back of the fabric looks the same. This shirt’s fabric feels nice, and the craftsmanship is excellent. Seams are triple chain-stitched, while the cuff is double-lockstitched. Bartacking reinforces stress points, and the buttonholes are very well trimmed.
This shirt has a detail I have never seen before: A diamond-shaped reinforcement patch extends from a few inches past above the cuff to a few inches below the shoulder, reinforcing the elbow. The patch is double-lockstitched onto the sleeve. This shirt also has two large front pockets, and the left pocket has a pen-slot separate from the flap enclosure. These pockets feel more useable thanks to the oversize buttons, and are large enough to fit a Samsung Galaxy S II vertically or horizontally. Bartacking on top corners reinforce the flaps and pockets, ensuring that using them will not cause them to break.
The fit of this Chambray Shirt is straight, without any noticeable taper, and it runs pretty large. This one did not fit me very well, but you can check out our Google+ Album
for fit pictures.
Made from cotton, these flannel shirts are some of the heaviest I have ever seen: I have a few light jackets that give less warmth than these shirts. The ones sent to me came in two colors and styles: A black, double-front pocket and a blue with one external pocket on the left and an internal one on the right. Both shirts feature a heavy elbow reinforcement patch that extends all the way to become a part of the shirt cuff, giving extra padding, although the design differs between the models: The blue one has a round design that extends from the center of the cuff’s button hole, while the black one has an arc-design that extends to the sleeve’s seam. Both are double lockstitched to the fabric.
I enjoy reviewing items that are solidly built, and am happy to say that these shirts fit that description. While heavier than something I would typically wear here in North Carolina, I do think that these shirts would be easy to incorporate into a wardrobe as an overshirt in colder climates, which is why if I get to keep one of them, I will be sending it to my brother in Portland Oregon.
I’ve been looking for a good winter-cap for a while now, and I just might have to buy this cap from Klaxon Howl. Made from a single piece of thick wool fabric, stitched together using four seams in a cross with one extending all the way down the hat, one of the nicer details in this hat is that the longest seam is almost unnoticeable from the outside of the hat. This thing fits my big head, and the fold-back can be repositioned to fit any size head. Drawing it’s inspiration from the Navy’s man-on-watch, this cap would be equally as well placed in a casual winter wardrobe as it would be in the lookout nest of a navy vessel. While I am wearing it high on my head, it can be worn lower to cover more of the ears and hairline.
Stylistically, shirts are not one-style fits all. While this Chambray and T-shirt do not fit my style, the flannels would be easy to work into any winter or coldweather wardrobe, and I look forward to hopefully getting lots of wear out of one of them. And the Watch-Cap is excellent, I am seriously considering purchasing it. But overall, every item Klaxon Howl sent to me was at minimum well thought out and solidly constructed, and I expect this to be true of every item they make. When you personally oversee the assembly of your own product line, and are as devoted to the idea of clothing that lasts forever thanks to solid construction like the Robinson’s are, you’re going to end up with a nice line of clothing.
If you would like to see more pictures of these items, check out This Google+ Album. If you are interested in supporting Klaxon Howl’s efforts to open a store and bring construction jobs from north of the border into the USA, you should head over to their Kickstarter page.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our articles, I hope you will consider sharing them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!