Monday, July 11, 2011

Epic Road Trip : Hamilton Dry Goods, Sparta, TN.

hile Sandy was back in Brooklyn, handling the daily operations of both The Hill-Side and Hickoree's, Emil and I made a trip down south to Nashville to do some sight seeing, some honky-tonking and so Emil could do some fabric hunting for the Hill-Side.

A few years back, (before many knew what The Hill-Side was) when Emil and Sandy were making ties one at a time, mostly from vintage and deadstock fabrics, Emil came across Period Fabrics online. Based on verbal descriptions over the phone, Emil ordered some fabric, liked what he got, and made some ties out of them. A few years later, the opportunity presented itself to pay a visit. I decided to tag along.
Located in Sparta, TN, Hamilton Dry Goods' makes period-correct supplies and clothing for historical re-enactors. They make their own tin cups, shape their own slouch hats on site and much of the rest is made locally in Tennessee. Hamilton also warehouses an enormous amount of fabric for manufacturing their clothing. On a particularly hot day a few weeks ago, Emil and I made the two hour drive east from Nashville to Sparta to see just what the Hamilton warehouse had in store for us.
We were greeted with true Southern hospitality and after looking around the shop for a while, (me trying to find a hat to fit my rather large head)we were shown out to the back and, roll after roll, spent a good part of the afternoon digging around. A few hours later, Emil had come up with some pretty promising stuff. With swatches in hand, Emil and I were on our way back to Music City USA for beers and tacos at
SatCo., an old favorite of mine since high school. And I think a new favorite of Emil's.


Max said...

I rarely use this word. This trip, that place, the whole thing is amazing. This is a really great story, great discovery guys.

JGillett said...

Very interesting post...I have watched the interest in high quality American produced clothing and wondered if any blogger would take on the great beast that is American produced 19th century reproduction clothing.

Whereas Hamilton Dry Goods is a good example of clothing made in USA for the mainstream reenactment community, other producers of goods such as Nick Sekela ( and Chris Daley ( have done the very intensive research and produce goods (in the States) that conform to exacting 19th century standards of accurate materials, accurate cut, and accurate construction techniques. We're talking vegetable dyed fabric woven on 19th century looms, patterns taken from the archives of now defunct arsenals or depots, and details such as hand applied topstiching and hand sewn buttonholes to name only a few.

The only other demographic that approaches this form of obsessive reproduction (that I have) seen are some of the Japanese companies interested in American workwear or sportswear. The prices that the American artisans charge for their reproductions are incredibly low, given the ammount of time and money they have invested in their product.

Great post and some great pictures of the South.

Matthew Hranek said...


Rhon Bell said...

Really great photos! Looks like a place I could spend $. I just got back from TN myself. One of those places that a guy wouldn't mind moving to!

Emil Erwin said...

There is a classic department store in South Pittsburg, TN b/w Nashville and Chattanooga called Hammers. Lots of Carhartt and old Levis, well last time I checked.

JG said...

I love this story and pictures. Was wondering if you guys would tell it again to our readers on FATHOM. Would love to show some of your pictures with captions, or let me interview you!

Check it out. Thanks. - Jeralyn

James said...

Awesome post!

What shoes are these?


james said...

pewter grey Vans authentics w/ leather laces.