For the #madeLocal series about designers manufacturing locally in New York City, I was happy to finally get the chance to hang out with Kyle Mosholder at the D’emploi studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
D’emploi manages a balance between a classic army/navy men’s aesthetic with a bright modern simplicity. The D’emploi triangle isn’t just cleverly attached to labels, but quietly marks all the surfaces in the studio: sewing machine, computer, chairs. It’s a small space, but has a sense of controlled chaos, with organized fabrics, trims and supplies lined up against exposed bricks and windows that open out into the bright light of industrial Brooklyn. It seems like the perfect place to be creative and talk about the future of local manufacturing.
The first thing Kyle does is pull out the two custom products he’s currently working on. The first is a gorgeous black on black motorcycle bag, with this huge airplane clasp. It’s a small run production for a high end motorcycle design club and heavy. It’s also one of the most beautiful black bags I’ve ever seen. The other is hand dyed canvas in bright neon pink splatters. It’s a good show of design range, but then we get back to talking about the regular D’emploi line.
He shows me the original surplus pack and we talk about zippers, the hassles of needing to order in large volumes to get quality parts and how after sewing a certain number of small bags, eventually it’s time to start looking for local factories to produce staple products in order to continue developing new things. So far the perfect contract manufacturer hasn’t been found and Kyle’s still working the gorgeous old industrial Singer that you can see on the D’emploi video.
The new thing, it turns out, is an update on the waxed canvas GP Rucksack. There’s a pile of earthy waxed canvas fabric samples and he’s particularly excited by one that’s the perfect color of butterscotch but is way too expensive to use. It’s a bummer and something of a stumbling block: when large companies source something, approximations are ok or custom dyes are possible. Small companies have to go through a complicated sourcing process and many designers would rather do something else than produce something that doesn’t honor the original design concept. For all the work that goes into updating an already successful product, it’s exciting to know it will be worth the wait.