As everyone probably knows by now, HELM makes all of our boots in Maine. We’ve done so since Spring of 2012 when we moved production from Istanbul to the US. On past visits, the entire HELM team will wake up at 4:30AM to fly from 100 degree Austin to 70 degree Boston and then drive through three states (MA, NH, ME) to get to our factory located about 45 minutes outside of Portland. As Texans this is a novelty – being able to hit three states in two hours is unheard of when living in a state that takes nearly two days to drive across. As tedious as this seems, it is massively easier than when production happened across oceans and traveling there took a solid 24 hours.
Managing production of anything means having a good relationship and plenty of facetime with the people producing your designs. We love our factory and speak to them weekly and exchange emails nearly daily but it’s another level to be able to walk through the facility, shake the hands of the folks making our boots, see leather pieces being cut and sewn, smell the finishing chemicals and shout over the din of the machinery. It’s exhilarating. Some trips we squeeze in editorial shoots on the coast as well as a video shoots of our boots in production.
While in Portland back in August of 2013, we stumbled upon an awesome little shop that was located on Wharf Street in the old city. Named Seawall for the original seawall contained in its building’s foundation (the original seawall predates the 1866 fire and subsequent rebuilding of the harbor), this shop was started by a collection of friends, artists and art school dropouts. Culling experiences in gallery ownership and using the principles of artistic collaboration, Seawall operates as a high-minded concept store. The bulk of the store, opened in 2012, is Men’s and Women’s garments that are designed, cut and sewn in the small, open-to-the-public atelier located at the back of their space. They are committed to quality, craftsmanship and sustainability.
On the day we dropped in, we were in the middle of an editorial photo shoot that was roving about the streets of Portland. We took a few minutes to duck in here and visit with the owners and they were kind enough to lend us two jersey button-downs for the shoot. The shirts weren’t even available to the public yet- they were right off their test production line. What struck us about the shop is that they adhere to high standards and high ideals common to high fashion but their designs and lines are so classic and without trend. These are items that you could have in your closet for years and never tire of. We are huge fans of this fad-less way of designing – you end up investing in the quality and the longevity of the product and not the waste that goes along with keeping up with fickle trends.