Update to the update that was the update; nothing has changed with TOJ since I last posted, the jackets are being made one by one as they were 5 years ago, the last orders came in awhile ago, and yes, there were so many orders suddenly that the production got bottlenecked long ago (which I thought was obvious at this point - after I described how it would happen before it happened, and then explained that it did happen as it happened….) - and still everything is moving along at the pace which the things can be made.
noob, and people joining this thread at random times - yes, I opened a new restaurant, things are going well there. We got a bunch of chefs and workers and it’s already pretty self-propelling already. As Find Finn said, this isn’t the first restaurant and it’s just a separate personal venture of mine with some friends, there are 6 other guys in it who run it day to day. For my part I ran a small fundraiser specifically for this restaurant by selling some of the black daypacks and the two styles of zip wallet, which are on order at the wallet maker/bag maker.
At the restaurant, all the partners are friends I’ve known for awhile locally - I’ve been in Seoul for almost 12 years at this point in my life; TOJ clothes were just one part of a lot of what I do. bentobox (from style forum and sufu) is a partner and actually came to Seoul for the new project, as we had been meeting up for years and wanted to work together on something and this one was a good chance. He had been doing restaurant launches in KL previously, and before that was based in Osaka.
It’s fun to call it the ‘TOJ restaurant,’ but that is figurative - I (Drew) just wanted a change of career personally and so I stated that awhile back. I haven’t designed any new clothes designs in quite awhile, as you guys have seen. Dan does the production at TOJ still, just as 5 years ago. As someone stated just a couple posts back, he has a family emergency and had to go to LA to be with his dad, so he left yesterday afternoon. Back in a couple weeks we hope. He gave me the EMS forms to ship things so I gotta step away from the restaurant to fill in for him on the TOJ stuff in his absence.
Overall, MTM clothing is tiring (not the production of said clothes, which wasn’t too hard beyond the wait and patience; it’s rather the online shuffle and having to deal with so many personalities once the word got out about the jackets - most of whom understand the process and wait for an individual product, and then the few randoms who don’t at all) and so I knew way before that I’d have to close down TOJ at some point and kinda waxed about it in this thread regularly for years - having nothing to do with wanting to start a restaurant, that happened when my friends and I got together and found a place we wanted. For the clothes, I said MTM was going to have it’s end, it’s just a lot of work that I knew I didn’t want to be doing in the future as i got older and life changed (beyond my own life, there’s Dan and Charly, and the old people who make the clothes - they were in their sixties when TOJ started)
I suppose that what really changed with TOJ over the years was that since the model was transparent, sprouted on superfuture from scratch in real time, and the forum format gave a level discussion that almost no other brand does - that in itself caused it’s own end, perhaps it was an experiment that proved itself over the course of 5 years to be flawed, the idea of a forum business - one that required personal discussion and really, oft times, just discussion to fill space, from posters you never hear back from. I haven’t really thought about that part deeply, but maybe as a business study, it deserves some thought. We are talking about something that has gone on for years unchanged. In the end, it could’ve gone a couple ways - either I updated the model and a lot about the business and took it into a new phase, or I could’ve just ended it as it stood - I chose to do the latter. Neither option was right or wrong, I feel - but I chose to end TOJ because the popularity outgrew itself, the small shop wasn’t meant to be a big one, etc.
Also, I have to admit that it got tiring to see what creative parts I put into it be ripped off and dragged out forever - you guys may have seen House of Billiam/Clothsurgeon - that guy has been lifting from me for years, from the first reversible varsity in 2009, and now making TOJ0’s, MA-1’s, and DR’s and charging twice as much as me, the only difference to his MTM is that he lets people choose crazy colors and materials that ultimately look terrible and he’s gotten some popularity as a stage clothing supplier, accordingly. It’s like, the TOJ MA-1 from 2010 except he changes the placket to metallic silver and one sleeve to red, or he lets people do the fake margiela / \ zippers on random jackets. The feeling is probably like seeing your ex-gf go off and become a meth whore and just devolve before your eyes.
Being in Korea, I see whatever is popular in clothing trends come here to die, basically, and a couple years late - the kids are buying clothes from the small boutiques (they’re cheap) and nobody really knows who designs them or where they’re made, and nobody cares, because they’re ripped off from everywhere, high or low. I ended up seeing a ton of fake TOJ0’s in the black/black, jason bourne, and then black on dark grey body, from years ago. The other varsity styles, the MA-1, and the DR’s (esp the MDR) all got lifted almost one for one, and replicated in like pleather and terrible materials. It’s a little disappointing and made me want to move on with things. I think the epitome of this happened recently; I’ve known some girl for less than a year (about the time I started the first restaurant, so she doesn’t really think of me (or know of me?) as Drew the clothing designer, rather I am just Drew from the cafe) - I follow her on instagram and she knows me well enough day to day, but I see her post one Sunday not too long ago, hanging out with her friends - and she’s wearing a knockoff TOJ0 (visually, it’s one for one, with the same ribbing height, white snaps and placement, stiching, except it has cloth sleeves instead of leather) in the jason bourne color way, and she has no idea of the backstory of what she is wearing. It’s kinda disappointing because all of this has come so far, that jacket was made for Henry 5 years ago, and now it has sprouted the ripoffs, and they’re that close to me now. I guess it should be funny, but I kinda liked that girl and so it ended up being a little depressing instead. shog.gif
Anyway, at the beginning, I was 26 years old, recently done with college, and posted on the forums for fun for years prior to the TOJ idea ever entering my head. I’m now 32 and less interested in talking about random designer clothes on the internet (#menswear might’ve been the beginning of the end for clothes as I liked them) - maybe a natural progression. I enjoy seeing people post their TOJ jackets, posting about TOJ while wearing their TOJ while waiting for their other TOJ etc etc, but that just became me and making clothes and I stopped paying much attention to any other clothes on the forums. I completely stopped caring much about what i wore personally, as of years ago - a leather, the white Uniqlo v neck tee, some APC NS in various states of wear, and some rarer sneakers are all that I need as my uniform.
As for TOJ and it’s future I wanted to design new clothes later after the one by one MTM orders finish and the whole thing could be re-evaluated and made to produce RTW clothes under a fresh brand name and with completely different stuff - but that is still in the future and I am not sure - the state of internet clothing isn’t what it was 5 years ago. Leather jackets are still obviously in demand, but I wanted to explore clothes beyond leathers, as we did in the past, with shirting, tailored pants, etc. The future is unwritten, so perhaps they will still see the light of day someday. In the meantime, the process of finishing old TOJ MTM is all we have to do.
To be honest, both are variables of each other - I agree that we should’ve explored more into sampling the range of available materials; it would’ve taken more work and TOJ was always about running very slim and low key, with the fewest possible people putting everything into the jackets and not really doing the glamour and smoke and mirrors of presentation/disposable showcasing.
Pricing up would’ve probably afforded someone who could’ve done things like that, as well as afforded someone to do more queue-minding and calming of nerves of the first time buyers, but at the end of the day, the years I’ve spent doing this on the forum meant someone will always find something to complain about in order to fill the empty forum space, I always cut what I felt was least important. Pricing your own wares is a huge topic of discussion in business terms; pretty far back I had decided I didn’t want to run TOJ in boutiques or in brick+mortar because of the cost of the actual product, and because the SF price would’ve had to increase drastically to match something like that. We sold at wholesale price the whole time; realistically the jackets should’ve probably been 1400 on up for the product/production service that was on offer. Money wasn’t the biggest priority though, and we still like making leather jackets that are quality and will last. That was all it was all along.
As for “can we find out more about timelines on specific orders’ - yes, I can eventually, but here’s the problem, and it’s the been the same for years: I do know all of the variables in the TOJ chain of actions, but don’t work with them myself singlehandedly, I design the jackets and then accompany along parts of the production/shipping process. The other people are more dutied to take the orders, process the orders, put the orders in, make the jackets, ship the jackets. When someone posts here and says ‘hey when will my jacket be done?’ - the answer 99/100 times is that I don’t know, dude, here’s why: you’re posting from some screen name like Stillmaticfadez1421 with x amount of posts and because I don’t do the emails and don’t know your real names in relation to your style forum posting names, I can decipher no more information than anyone else on this green earth from that. If you posted and said, ‘my name is Michael McDonald and I ordered X jacket on X/X/XX and have made no modifications to the order since that time’ then it becomes easier to backtrack and find out more.
Want to know the truly realistic scenario in this, most of the time? it starts with the first question, and then the answer is almost impossible to find because the person in question is old enough to use the internet but not old enough to have a Paypal and so they pay with their sister/mom’s account; when we get the order slips we just assume we are making a men’s sized jacket for Esther Alvarez or Martha Wang and that’s the name on the ticket, and we get it through. Often times we have a hell of a time shipping because mom/sister’s name is the payment receipt and the email screenname is nothing like the person’s real name either, or their style forum screenname. Woes of the internet. In essence it’s like someone coming to your door repeatedly but in a disguise/costume each time, saying ‘hey, remember me?’
Re: the ‘he doesn’t care about my leather jacket’ part, I dunno man, lol - Pretty dramatic - that’s untrue and people have been ordering and receiving TOJ orders for years and posting fits (which doesn’t ever get old for me, btw, I enjoy seeing the feedback fits like it was day one), why would I suddenly stop caring about it? We got a bunch of orders after we announced that we wanted to shut down the MTM, this is known. A few years ago we wanted to take a break from taking orders and the same thing happened, the wait list got large, people waited for jackets for awhile. I explained all of this before shutdown orders were taken, and said that lead times would increase exponentially based on how many people got in before you. I realize that the lead time has gotten long, the tailors are making the jackets at their pace and I feel bad about the waiting - and I want to live a post-TOJ life too, man. I want to get every TOJ order shipped and then finally live my life for a bit without daily leather jacket-making in my head.
We have always fed the tailors orders, and they have made them at the pace they can - unfortunately it’s not an MTM leather jacket vending machine, rather it’s people receiving orders for ‘a blue MDR, but delete this pocket and add quilt and re-do the pattern in this place’ (x 300) - so it just keeps working along at the pace it can. I have discussed this in the past as well, but oft time people forget that Korea runs on a diff work schedule than america, and that there are a lot of national holidays (socialist country) that combine with my older workers just working at the pace they want.
As for me not posting in the thread as much - I prefaced the previous post with ‘the answer is basically the same’ and someone repeated it as such - it’s just a waiting room for your jackets to be born. I don’t have a lot to post about lately as we are production mode, and not making new designs or taking orders. Can’t cook in the kitchen and entertain in the dining room at the same time, is what I am saying. I guess I could post musings of my life day to day but I feel like I’ve done so much already that you could probably accurately guess my daily schedule based on my SF posts. :ember: Restaurant has been a separate thing I do with my night time hours from about 3pm-midnight most days, from Scout til now. TOJ was always mornings/daymarket, most sourcing run by Dan. Sally quit TOJ a few months ago because she’s like 23 and she couldn’t wake up before 3pm everyday, and her job was mostly sending tracking notices anyway. As for me and style forum, I’m just getting older, and the off-topic posting and stuff on forums doesn’t really come in first place for things I want to do with my day these days. Doesn’t have to do with my jobs. I hope this answers some of the questions, as I am here in Korea alone this next couple weeks and would like to get off the internet now and go back to the work I was doing.