June 05, 2016

Photo Essay: A Factory Tour for Foodie Fashion

I'd been hearing about Hedley & Bennett, the hipster apron company, though I don't think I'd ever actually encountered one of their aprons.

Or if I had, I never noticed.

After all, why would I? If I'm cooking or baking, I just let the hot grease splatter all over my arms. I lick the cake batter from my shirt. But generally I like someone else to do the cooking.

Still, when I heard that the ringleaders of the so-called "Apron Squad" were having a fundraiser event, I saw it as an opportunity to take a little nighttime self-guided tour of their factory.

Their factory is over in Vernon, not far from the zipper factory or the candle factory...

...but something tells me that this factory—maybe it's better to call it a "creative space"—is a little different than some of its neighbors that are mass-producing things like dog food.

It's a great old industrial building...

...with a vibrant splash of color, thanks to all of the different  model aprons that are on display.

They have their standard models, worn by a variety of young and cutting edge chefs and mixologists, but they kind of specialize in custom aprons. They've previously collaborated with Mario Batali, Roy Choi, and even Intelligentsia Coffee.

But if you don't want somebody else's apron design, you can choose from a variety of body styles, fabrics, and hardware...

...and get your own bespoke apron.

Whatever your choices are, you're sure to get a brass adjuster on your strap, reinforced pockets, and a type of "fusible interlining" to keep the ends from curling up.

After that, you can kind of go crazy on your own one-of-a-kind creation (though actually their minimum order for custom is 25).

The fabrics come in various materials, from canvas and linen to denim...

...and colors, from Rhubarb to Ginger to Black Sesame...

...and a few colors and patterns in between.

And it's not just aprons, of course, but also work shirts and chef coats for both men and women. Don't expect any frilly French maid getups here, because the gear for both sexes is rugged, badass, and beautiful—more like what a blacksmith might wear.

I bet the aprons are sometimes nice (maybe even a lot nicer) than the clothes they're meant to protect.

All of it is handmade here in LA...

...and then shipped out to people and establishments all over the U.S.

I kind of thought I was being clever by getting into the Hedley & Bennett factory by way of a party (after all, I got some pizza and beer out of it), but it turns out that I could've just shown up pretty much any time. They welcome visitors—and not just to push aprons on you.

It's worth a visit even if you're like me and don't really cook—because it's changing the culinary scene, inside the kitchen and behind the bar, on both coasts.

And it's doing it from a city that the rest of the country doesn't even associate with food or cocktails.

Except, of course, they're wrong.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Surprising Secret Life of the Zipper
Photo Essay: No Place Like Homeboy
Photo Essay: A Book By Its Cover
Photo Essay: A House of Wax and Fragrance 

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