Fort Standard Jewelry

The Brooklyn-based makers add accessories to the mix

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Having built a repertoire of supremely simple, thoughtfully crafted contemporary furniture, lighting and home objects, Brooklyn-based design pair Gregory Buntain and Ian Collings of Fort Standard take their ethos in a new direction with a line of jewelry. “Jewelry allows us to explore the more sculptural side of design while simultaneously forcing us out of our comfort zone, which usually creates interesting results,” says Buntain.

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The collection, which debuted this weekend in the American Design Club booth at this year’s Gift Fair in New York, comprises six brass bracelets and 10 necklaces combining richly hued braided rope with metallic accents. Focused on process and material, the designers were inspired by the manipulation of sprue wax to cast in brass that, says Buntain, “produced results which are a mixture of ridged structural elements and organic form.” Indeed, the metals almost seem soft, juxtaposing strong, cage-like brass shapes on the necklaces with the illusion of malleability.

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The bracelets rely on similarly imperfect lines to convey a sense of playful, unfussy sophistication. The raw materials once again shine—fingerprints left during the manipulation process leave indelible reminders of the handmade care with which the molded, slightly golden-hued shapes were formed. With characteristic intention, Fort Standard juxtaposes the free-form silhouette of their jewelry pieces with impeccable attention to detail—necklace clasps, for example, were carved from a harder wax for a distinct design that’s nearly as noteworthy as the focal accents on the necklaces.

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Along with the necklaces and bangles, the duo has released a set of sharp brass bottle openers whose weight plays perfectly with smooth edges and geometric lines. The entire collection is now available to purchase by contacting Fort Standard directly. Visit the website for more details.

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Nanovo

The source for Communist-era Czech vintage design treasures

Adam Štěch

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Providing arguably the most comprehensive collection of salvaged modernist design from the former Czechoslovakia or Eastern and Central Europe is Prague-based Nanovo. Founded by Adam Karásek and Jiří Mrázek two years ago, the online shop is a platform for collecting and selling vintage, mostly anonymous pieces from furniture and lighting to glass, ceramics and other accessories.

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Czech modernist design from the 1950s through the 1980s is slowly becoming a strong collectible phenomenon, but still only in very local dimensions. The designs are mostly composed of anonymous furniture made in large state-directed factories during the second half of the 20th century. In keeping with the classical features of French, Italian and American designs during the same period, the Czech pieces offer an advantage to collectors for their relatively lower price points than those found at auction or prestigious galleries in other regions.

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Due to the their origin during the Communist era, these furniture, lightning and other pieces are associated with unfortunate political and industrial memories for many people. Mrázek and Karásek want to change the overall view of these beautiful pieces, which could stand next to the works of famous design icons.

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Ten years ago, almost no one cared about these pieces, and they were discarded. However, with the rising interest of resourceful contemporary designers and collectors, prices have started to increase for vintage Czechoslovakian design, priming them to become a sensation in that realm. That said, it seems as though now is the time to visit Nanovo to discover some great pieces that are just now breaching the global marketplace. Lovers of vintage design—long overloaded with repetitive pieces on the world market—are sure to find a few surprises from the Czech boutique.

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Nanovo is not only about vintage design. The founders are searching for a connection between modernist pieces with new innovative approaches to their presentation and exhibition. Collaborating with the young graphic designer Filip Matějíček, they have created a pure visual presentation as well as a great website. With photographer Jakub Vlček, they have collaborated on a series of wonderful images presenting their work in the context of abandoned spaces. In addition, Nanovo has also branched out from the online format, organizing occasional pop-up stores within industrial spaces around Prague.

For more information and to browse the selection, visit the site.

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West America

Our interview with Jordan Hufnagel on building camping supplies and the story behind his new brand

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There comes a time in many peoples’ lives when things just seem to be moving too fast, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. This overwhelmed feeling spurred Portland-based bicycle builder Jordan Hufnagel and motorcycle maker James Crowe to start the adventure outfitter brand West America. A passion project for the two, West America makes handmade camping supplies and apparel capturing the free spirit that brought the brand to life.

While the product line itself is fairly basic, the story behind West America is a rich one filled with countless stories of friendship and travel with a genuine, pioneering spirit. To learn more about the young brand, we recently caught up with Hufnagel before his upcoming motorcycle trip for which the brand was formed.

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What is West America all about?

West America is about that constant evolution that we all go through, and being true to ourselves. It’s about not being scared of the changes you want in your life and working hard to make them happen. A couple years ago James and I found ourselves buried in a mountain of work that only seemed to keep growing, while not getting us any closer to the lives we really wanted. After some big challenges were overcome and some rough conversations between the two of us, we committed to making those changes and somewhere along the line we thought up West America.

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What does West America make?

West America makes whatever James and I are stoked on at the time—currently that means a small line of camping gear, and paraphernalia—while simultaneously creating an outlet for James and me to document our work, good times and travels.

You make bicycles, James makes motorcycles. Who makes the camping gear?

We both make the camping gear. James and I really yin each other’s yang here in the shop, so working together designing and making things works out great.

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How did the idea for this specific camping gear (camp grill, skewer, utensil) come about?

It all happens very naturally around here. Having a full metal shop, we have the privilege to make the things we want exactly how we want them. We are going to be on the road a long time, camping most of the nights. So we wanted gear that was going to pack easy in our limited space, but also create comfort. After bouncing around some ideas of what we wanted to make, we landed on these items to start.

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Can you elaborate a little on the ongoing design process?

At this point we’re just scratching some sketches out as ideas pop in our heads and showing them to each other to get feedback and make refinements to the plan. Then one of us will make a prototype that we can beat up and get a feel for. Sometimes one prototype is all that happens and the product gets dumped. But, if we’re happy with what we’ve come up with we’ll make some final repeatable plans, order materials and will work together producing a limited run.

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A foundation of the West America products seems to lie in the idea that they’ll all be used on a future motorcycle trip, can you add anymore to this?

We started planning this motorcycle trip to South America a couple years ago when we made that commitment to change and started thinking up West America. Like I said earlier, we had found ourselves buried in work. Me with bicycle orders and James with three different and very important full-time gigs. I was spending every waking hour at the shop and going a little crazy. I felt like I’d been stripped of the privilege to act on my spontaneous nature, and also had this huge drive to be doing more than one thing with my life. At the same time, James was being pulled in every direction too. Between our shop, a hot rod shop he worked at that was sponsoring his green card application, and having to be in school full time to maintain a visa here in the US (he’s Canadian) he had no time to do anything besides work. Only sleeping a couple hours a night, things came to a tipping point.

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At the time, I wanted to move away from Portland. The only thing keeping me here was sharing a shop with James. He’s my best friend and ultimate shop partner. But life here was beating him down pretty hard and it looked like a move back to Canada was just around the corner, so I also felt like there was no reason to stay. It honestly was a pretty crazy emotional time. Then real late one night at the shop, we just broke it all down and committed to making this trip happen. Leaving all the stress behind and going off to have the awesome journey. You know, just hit the reset button and find out who we really are with out all the expectations and stress again. Now here we are a couple months from going. It’s a crazy feeling, knowing that it’s happening so soon.

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You seem like a firm believer in the “journey-over-destination” idea, as a designer and builder how does this mindset fit in with West America?

Totally. For the trip south our only plan is going, and letting the rest just take shape on its own. West America is the same. We just want it to be whatever we are into at that time, or whatever we want to make. Right now, it’s camping and motorcycles. At some point we both want to build homes and I can totally see us making house wares as we want them, or bike stuff, or backpacking gear. You know, whatever is rocking us at the time. Also, I think it’s important to keep in mind here that destinations are just a part of a journey, not the reason for them.

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Can we expect to see more products added to the collection anytime soon?

We have a few other things in the works, but we also have tons of work to finish up before we take off so we’ll see what happens!

Keep an eye on West America to stay up with the product development and the eventual documentation of Hufnagel and Crowe’s South American adventure.

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100 Best Bikes

Beautiful frames in a new book and a giveaway from Biomega

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An up-to-the minute catalogue of the bike and brands that are changing the cycling industry, “100 Best Bikes” curates a mighty selection ranging from compact folding rides to chainless wonders. Zahid Sardar details throughout the book objects that “epitomize the widespread 21st-century bicycle renaissance.” His brief introduction to bicycle history begins with what he calls “clownish and hard to ride Penny-farthing or high-wheeler bikes” and moves gradually towards the modern safety bike. Recently, he notes, new technologies and changing ways of life have spurred designers to rethink the classic form.

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Monty offers the “Kamel 231 XXV” that ditches the seat and A-frame in favor of two parallel tubes, the upper of which is humped for shock absorption. The styling reflects the stand-up technique for bike trials, in which riders pass through an obstacle course without setting foot on the ground—not to mention, it looks downright rad.

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On the other end of the sprectrum is Velorbis, a maker of traditional cruisers who recently entered the fixie game with the “Arrow,” a luxe sport model with clean horizontal lines, a Brooks saddle and brown leather grips. Old-school details on the bike include front and rear fenders as well as the brand’s signature lion’s head insignia.

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Designer Joey Ruiter pioneers unconventional thinking with his “Big City Cruiser,” which eliminates the chain in favor of hub-mounted pedals and leaves a mere iota of space between the 36-inch wheels. Think of this all-black city rider as Bruce Wayne’s eco-friendly alternative to the Batmobile.

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Craig Calfee strikes an all-natural note with his bamboo bike, which is held together at the joints by Chinese hemp soaked in epoxy. For the handles and forks, Calfee elected to equip the bike with an aggressive set of horns. The designer also produces consumer models that use a bamboo frame but ditch the horns for more traditional parts.

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Biomega shows off several models in the book, including their “LDN,” “NYC” and “SYD” models, all of which reflect the company’s signature organic shapeliness. To commemorate the launch of “100 Best Bikes,” Biomega is also giving away a “Boston” folding bike for Cool Hunting readers (read on and check Twitter for more details). The Jens Martin Skibsted-designed model features an integrated lock halfway down the frame that allows for easy folding and has been on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Enter to win by Tweeting your favorite bike design to @coolhunting with the hashtag #CHBiomegaGiveaway. The winner will be selected at 12pm EST on Monday 13 August 2012 and announced on Twitter.

“100 Best Bikes” is available for pre-order from Laurence King and on Amazon.

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A New American Picture

Photographer Doug Rickard travels the backroads of America on Google Street View

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If photographer Doug Rickard had been able to get away from his daily life and go on the great American road trip like he wanted to, he might never have created the subtly powerful, deeply moving and award-winning images in the collection “A New American Picture.” Because he was unable to travel, Rickard sought other ways to see the country. He went online a lot, searching terms that might lead to images of places like Detroit, which to him symbolized “the mythology of the broken down American dream.” A few months after it was created, Rickard discovered Google Street View and, along with it, a higher calling.

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He was floored by the fact that he could sit at home and “walk” the streets of any town, anywhere in the country. Rickard spent the next two years scouring Google Street View for images of the unseen America, starting in Detroit, though he soon discovered that there were countless other “Detroits” all over across America. He was stunned by towns like the 400-person town of Amite City, Louisiana, which has changed little since Ben Shahn photographed it more than 70 years ago.

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Moving through the streets shot by Google’s Street View cameras, Rickard searched for vivid colors and compositions that have led critics to liken his work to Stephen Shore and William Eggleston. He also kept the idea of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” in the front of his mind, and recalls the sense of elation when he dropped into Watts in LA one day and discovered a man holding a hose against a stark white wall. Though there have been some grumblings about ownership and intellectual property, those have mostly been quashed by the power of Rickard’s work and his abilities to use—one might even say repurpose—a widespread technology to show us a new way of looking at what’s in front of our very eyes, which is what good photographers strive to do.

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A limited edition of “A New American Picture” was published by White Press and Schaden in 2010, and even though it was named best book of 2010 by Photo-Eye Magazine and images were exhibited in the MoMA, it went out of print. Now, however, Aperture is re-releasing the book to a wider audience along with 40 new images.

“A New American Picture” is co-published by Koenig Books, and is available for pre-order on Amazon for $60. An accompanying exhibition will be on view 18 October through 24 November 2012 at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York.

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Visionaire 62 Rio

The shape-shifting arts and fashion publication goes stereoscopic

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Continually pushing the boundaries of traditional publishing, quarterly art and fashion magazine Visionaire has released their 62nd issue in conjunction with NYC-based design firm Aruliden and Brazilian retail developer and contemporary art patron Iguatemi. As with each issue, the theme and format has once again changed. This time Visionaire takes the form of a stereoscope. Designed, developed and manufactured by Aruliden, the “issue” contains 18 slides depicting photographic works by a wide range of renowned artists to express the life, culture and arts of Brazil without any of the flamenco dancing clichés. Artists featured include Maurizio Cattelan, Marco Brambilla, Alas & Marcus Piggott and even Karl Lagerfeld.

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Each slide features two images, shot from two cameras at a measured distance from both each other and the subject. The stereoscope’s two lenses are spaced from each other and the viewing plane at the same proportion putting the slide at the correct distance ratio from your line of sight to best capture the stereoscope’s ability create the illusion of three dimensions. The impressively sharp images are seen as if at the end of a long dark hallway. Much like one would encounter art in a gallery—surrounded by white walls with a single object of attention—the user gets a uniquely isolated viewing experience from the black box stereoscope.

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Described by Aruliden founder and lead designer Johan Liden as a “non object,” the stereoscope’s beautifully designed block-like body seems both intuitive and ambiguous at the same time. On one end the soft nose and eye cutouts seem to encourage the user to hold it to their face, while the sharp edges and matte finish of the other sides offer few clues as to the product’s purpose. “Architecturally it’s very linear and square,” says Liden, explaining that the injection-molded plastic is produced with a slightly silky, soft touch finish to soften the device without changing its shape and make it more “friendly.”

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While the low-tech stereoscope may seem basic in form, it was no easy feat to create. Liden and his team worked on the design for an entire year, toying with options from shapes inspired by an open book to an ode to the classic ViewMaster 3D toy. After extensive prototyping and testing ideas, the design team settled on the final, elegant shape.

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Available in a choice of two lenticular-paneled boxes, the limited-run Visionaire issue 62 Rio can now be bought directly from Visionaire. Limited to just 2,000 total editions, issue 62 sells for $375. For a closer look at the packaging and product design see the slideshow.

Images by Graham Hiemstra and Aruliden

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K/LLER Collection

Beautifully tough jewelry by a Brooklyn-based design duo
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Between the walls of an old nunnery in downtown Brooklyn work two designers who bonded over a shared interest in exploring the insides of things. Katie deGuzman and Michael Miller bring their line K/LLER Collection to live by tearing apart found materials and objects and deconstructing them to reveal the skeletal structure as a standalone aesthetic before reinterpreting it in their studio.

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Their latest collection builds on that broken-down aesthetic to combine sturdy brass casting with delicate shapes like porcupine quills and petals, for a look that is at once androgynous yet surprisingly feminine.

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The duo’s necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings are infused with a tangible spirit of renewal that deGuzman and Miller want people to feel when they wear their pieces. After meeting at Parsons in 2000, they started K/LLER in 2010 to mark their own artistic reinvention, saying, “We both had just left unhappy jobs and wanted to start fresh. We knew that we had similar aesthetics and work ethics, and got excited with the idea of working together.” Hard work and trial-and-error culminated in the collection that now appears in countless editorials, as well as the models at Helmut Lang and the characters on the HBO series True Blood.

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K/LLER’s latest line seamlessly combines sharp edges with fanciful, hand-engraved patterns. The strong character of the collection is clearly designed for those with a penchant for layering statement pieces over more subtle amulets for a look that is entirely unique.

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When asked about their most recent collection, the pair says that they “experimented with burnouts of deerskin lace cast into metal, and got some stunning results. The new designs play with the contrast between soft and hard, round and angular, telling the story of the original objects we deconstructed without literally defining them.”

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DeGuzman and Miller’s hammered-brass bangles and spiky rings emit an androgynous industrial vibe that reflects their desire to see K/LLER’s spirit of reinvention permeate as many scenes, styles and aesthetics as possible.

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Check out K/LLER Collection’s new website to shop the line and learn more.

Collection images by Graham Hiemstra

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Adelanto Backpack

A retro-inpsired rucksack from Vans’ California Collection

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Perfect for a summer weekend away, the newly released Adelanto Backpack from Vans’ California Collection channels a well-loved vintage aesthetic that seems at home on the road. As a nice change of pace to the tech-driven bags we often encounter, this mid-sized top loader earns our thumbs up with an extremely basic 12oz canvas construction with few bells or whistles. While the worn-in retro vibe feeds on the pared down three pouch pocket design, we welcome the more era-relavant laptop sleeve strategically placed along the back panel.

And to further inspire your inner rubber tramp, the bag’s bottom comes with two compression straps to hold your sleeping bag or sleeping pad. Find the Adelanto Backpack ($120) along with the rest of the California Collection in store from DQM and other official Vans Cali dealers.

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Partly Cloudy

New weather app combines high design and usable data in a crisp infographic-style interface

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From the creative minds at Raureif comes Partly Cloudy, a new weather app designed for those who have a penchant for both design and numbers. While many recent apps in the weather genre tend to favor minimal design over crowded dew point variables and vectors—or vice versa—this rendition manages to combine both with elegance and intuition, giving users an easy way to peruse a sizable amount of information regarding the day’s weather conditions.

Partly Cloudy begins with a friendly tutorial that slides through the app’s potential screens, each decorated with easy-to-read labels that describe the purpose and meaning behind every figure and number. The main, user-friendly interface looks like a traditional clock face and can be set to either a 12-hour, 24-hour or seven-day forecast, depending on the location (seven-day forecast my not be available in some areas). Moving the “hand” around the 360º diameter changes the time, while the temperature, precipitation level, wind force, the day’s high/low and the weather situation (rainy, cloudy, partly cloudy) update in according real time. Clearly, the designers found a way to pack a lot of information in a surprisingly small space.

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The beauty of Partly Cloudy comes in its colorful circular interface that is not only easy to navigate, but also pleasurable to interact with. The outer ring changes color in a series of gradient patterns depending on the time of day and weather conditions, while the inner circle contains mini vector lines that reflect ever-changing wind forces (yellow) and precipitation amounts (blue). In a world where it seems to be raining new weather apps, it’s crucial for users to be able to choose between those that are tailored towards designers versus meteorologists. We’re happy to have found one that caters to both.

Partly Cloudy is available for 99¢ in the iTunes App Store.

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Publish Collaborations

Four limited-run caps inspired by the Good Moods collection from NYC’s Reed Space and Hawaii’s KICKS/HI
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Making a case for the value of a good collaboration is LA-based fashion brand Publish. After dropping their well-recieved “Good Moods” collection just two weeks ago the label teamed up with NYC’s premiere lifestyle boutique Reed Space and Hawaii’s world-renowned sneaker shop KICKS/HI for two limited-run joint projects for your head. Officially launching tomorrow, 13 July, the line will feature a snapback and a five-panel inspired by the retailers’s respective digs.

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As an ode to the controlled chaos and artisanal history of New York City, Reed Space’s snapback features muted floral prints conjuring what might grow in the dark alleys if given the chance. The five-panel, on the other hand, features a bright, flowery pattern vaguely reminiscent of a cheetah, in homage to the concrete jungle.

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While Reed Space finds inspiration in the dark city of cynics, KICKS/HI’s prints inspire with vivid colors and an unmistakably laid-back attitude. The five-panel seems like it was crafted from a swatch of Victorian-era wallpaper, rather than palm trees and hibiscuses. The snapback’s vibe seems more like digi-camo upholstery, marking a welcome departure from more traditional motifs.

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All in all the four collaboration hats stay very much on-brand for the three influential companies. Find the American-made caps in store only at Reed Space and KICKS/HI tomorrow, 13 July. For a closer look see the slideshow.

Images by Graham Hiemstra

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