The origins of old American manufacturers are often similar; family businesses started by immigrants looking for opportunity in a new country. Looking to support their spouses, children, and kin, often with rich stories of trials and triumphs. Sadly over the decades many of these companies have been forced to close for a myriad of reasons. Two that have remained though are Levi's and Dehen. One founded in 1873 the other in 1920. Our paths have been very different; Levi's growing into a major global company and Dehen remaining a small business with local roots. While our business and manufacturing approaches have been different, we are, perhaps, a "perfect pairing" as witnessed below. You can easily identify our iconic motorcycle sweater featured in this captivating video on Japanese fascination with American culture in general, and the Levi's 501 in particular. We are pleased to have our paths crossed.
Adam Baz and Michael Rich captured by Photographer Zachary Jones. Caught escaping the traps of the everyday, moonlighting amongst the dust and pine. Along for the ride you'll find some genuine Dehen: the Nineteen Twenty Moto-Jersey, the Selvedge Denim Crissman Overshirt, and the classic Dehen Moto-Club Sweater. All coming this fall.
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Riding season has commenced and we wanted to kick it off with some heavy duty inspiration. So we thought we'd share a video of our friend and master motorcycle builder Shinya Kimura. Born in Tokyo, Japan, he was surrounded by the sounds and scents of his father's factory at an early age. He soon developed an affinity for cars which would be the seed that would grow into a passion for building and riding motorcycles.
Shinya, known as the founder of the "Zero" or so-called "Zero-style" motorcycle, began his career in 1992 with a little repair shop by the name of Chabo, which means "bantam rooster" or in Shinya's words, "back to basics". A year later Chabo evolved into Zero Engineering in Okazaki, Japan. He soon gained notoriety for his minimalistic and vintage looking bikes that combined form and function. A Zero-style bike is typically based around a rigid gooseneck, a pre-1984 Harley Davidson engine, springer front end, and spoked wheels, and often includes parts of the bike remaining bare metal. The inspiration came from wabi sabi (austere refinement) and the beauty of the raw materials, incorporating the essence of wa (harmony) into his design. Kimura and his crew were also known for putting their work to the test by participating in different vintage race series with their unique bikes.
Shinya eventually moved on from Zero Engineering and in 2006 launched his own studio named Chabott Engineering in Azusa, California with the intent to build both custom bikes as well as move himself toward the world of art. "Since setting up in America, I've moved from being just a custom-bike builder to slightly changing my direction a little more toward the world of art. I don't know whether success or failure is awaiting me in the future. Can custom bikes become art? Maybe we'll know in 10 years' time."
Watch the below video to hear Shinya speak about his fascination with riding and his relationship with his craft. He is seen wearing his custom motorcycle sweater produced by Dehen 1920 specifically for the Bonneville Salt Flat Speed Trials.
We at Dehen strive to craft our product with the same dignity and passion as Shinya does with his. Hope you enjoy. Happy and safe riding!
Nelson Lyon from Mount Scott Motorcycle Club stopped by Dehen headquarters recently and dropped a bomb on us...the good kind. Accompanying Nelson, tucked neatly under his arm, you could tell with just a quick glance, was something very unique. What we came to find out was that he had an original Dehen Motorcycle Sweater from - most likely - the early 1940's. Still in great condition with the added character that comes from 70+ years of wear, it features a "Dehen Special" label one of Dehen's earliest designs, and a good indicator to help determine era. It also features MSMC's devil's head logo in chenille, "MOUNT SCOTT MOTORCYCLE CLUB" hand stitched felt lettering, an emergency first aid patch, and the name "HARV" stitched on the upper left sleeve. Also, notably missing from the sweater is an AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) patch on the right bicep. This sweater will be on display at The One Moto Show Feb. 12 - 14, located at 831 SE Salmon Street, Portland, OR 97214. Below, in their words, is a brief history on the Mount Scott Motorcycle Club.
"In 1941, Roy and Frank Clay started the Mt. Scott Motorcycle Club. Mt. Scott was seen from Roy's service station on 82nd ave. Roy and his brother, Frank, grabbed some tire chains and headed up the mountain on their bikes. Back then there were a variety of outstanding trails. Over the years other riders joined in on the fun and the Mt. Scott Motorcycle Club was born.
There were two big runs back then, the Devils Head Time Keepers Enduro and the TeePee Run held on the Indian Reservation near Pine Grove, Oregon, until the 70's. We had events and play days in Colton for years.
Times changed, but the club maintained a relationship with the Mt. Hood National Forest over the past 50 years. In 1961 we met with the Oregon Department of Forestry in the Tillamook Burn. The club talked of creating trails for racing and to work as access roads to aide in fire fighting.
We are a family oriented, trail riding club. We have only one road event each year. We have 5 events a year int the Tillamook Burn, and the TeePee run annually at McCubins Gulch on Mt. Hood. We currently have 50 active members, and are always glad to have new members.
Welcome to the longest running Dirt Club in Oregon!"
Inspired by our trip to Pitti Uomo, the menswear extravaganza in Florence, Italy last January, we wanted to create a piece with a little shout out to our Italian brothers and sisters. With our extremely limited Italian vocabulary (see pretty much the only word we knew) we thought Ciao was appropriate given we the fact we were effectively saying hello to Italy for the first time. Plus it looked great and was just fun to say. We quickly found out what a special word it was. Over the next week new friends and faces peppered us with ciaos from all angles - ciao hellos, ciao goodbyes, ciao this, ciao that. Needless to say the jacket was a hit and we haven't stopped saying it yet! CIAO!!!
A is for Army. We've been busy working on some special cardigan sweaters custom-made for the cadet-athletes at the USMA, more commonly known as West Point. Very proud to be working with such a prestigious institution. Go Black Knights!
Vintage Dehen: A Shriners All Star Game Varsity Jacket from 1965 with the player's name hand chainstitched in the back neck.
Masterclass Motorcycle Builder Shinya Kimura from 2014 Cannonball Run. A race in which riders travel across the country on motorcycles built before 1930. At nearly 300 miles per day, it's a grueling race that requires not only a great rider but a great technician as well, as many times these vintage bikes require maintenance along the way. The race is held every two years and in 2016 is being deemed "The Century Race". In order to qualify riders will be required to have a 100 year old motorcycle. We were very proud to provide Shinya and his team with these custom Dehen Motorcycle Sweaters to wear along the way. Find out more on Shinya here and the Cannonball Run here.