Wellema Hat Co.’s Three Year Anniversary Party

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“Fuck Jetlag” was what I exclaimed on the way to a party at the Wellema Hat Co, which was literally the day after I came back from Japan.  It was worth being extremely sleepy by the end of the event; it was a bunch of fun and a great way to mark my return to the States.

I also stayed up editing these pictures, so I hate myself.

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Cody Wellema in Ring Jacket balloon, Bryceland’s Chambray, and vintage military chinos.

By now, you guys should know about Cody Wellema, the master bespoke hat maker behind the eponymous brand. Even if you haven’t read my feature on him, listened to his podcast episode, or read how much I enjoy the hat he made me, you may have seen his work on stylish guys around the world.  Names like Paul F. Tompkins and John C. Reilly are among them, but in menswear, Wellema is the favorite for more vintage-inspired guys like the RL collector Mark Large and the Bryceland’s boys, Kenji and Ethan.  Cody really is the best hat maker in the world, able to craft hats in any style you can think of, from period accurate ones to contemporary concoctions (just check out the wild stuff PFT wears).

The store, which sits at the end of a small strip mall in cozy Altadena (east side, represent) is really a wonderful space, worthy of a visit even if you aren’t ready to make the leap into a bespoke hat.  Artisanal menswear is hard to find, especially in LA, but I’m glad Cody keeps that alive, as he literally crafts all his hats in the back room.

It’s amazing to see how far he’s come, from making hats in his old home in Santa Barbara to opening up a physical store (three years ago, hence the party).  In that time, Cody and the store has changed quite a bit.  When he first started, he was mainly about period accurate hats and style from the 1930’s.  Cody has since had a considerable evolution, combining both vintage and classic menswear, which is evident in his style, the clients he has gathered, and what he keeps in the store!  Cody even stocks stuff from Bryceland’s (who he makes RTW hats for) and even was the site of their first LA trunk show.   That, along with attending Pitti Uomo last year, and going to trunk shows in HK, Tokyo, NYC, and SF means that the Wellema Hat Co. is truly worldwide.

In other words, celebrating three years is definitely worth a big celebration! Plus, he’s the one who got me back into fedoras.

The Event

SAVE THE DATE! Feeling extremely blessed to be celebrating 6 years of making & 3 years in Los Angeles county. @redrabbittrading will be in store all day through the evening with goods to shop. We’ll have live music from the one & only Smitty on Steel. Ice creams from CK Farnsworth & more. Be sure to pencil it in and make some memories with us #wellemahats

So at 6PM last Saturday, friends and family of the Wellema Hat Co. came to the store to hang out and celebrate Cody.  The mix was definitely fun: workwear, vintage, and classic.  Enjoying food from Sofia’s Mexican Restaurant (a local Pasadena favorite) and ice cream from Cary Farnsworth while listening to Smitty on Steel (who has played for RRL events), it was a wholesome time. Cody even set up a backdrop to shoot his clients (who were all encouraged to wear their favorite Wellemas), which I stole later in the evening to take some pictures of my friends.  I don’t think he seemed to mind!

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Smitty on Steel.

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In addition to sampling Cody’s hats (a few attendees even placed an order), people got to meet  Mike French of Red Rabbit Trading Co, who was there for a trunk show.  Jewelry isn’t really my thing, but I can’t deny that his silver/turquoise pieces were extremely beautiful.  I was drawn a bit to the more minimal and slimmer bracelets, which seemed to evoke the appeal of a watch; if we’re being honest however, I don’t even feel the need to wear my watches on an everyday level.  With that being said, Spencer, Doug, and the Gooch Brothers were all over it.

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Attire

I was looking forward to this for a while, mainly because I was salty that I missed out on Ring Jacket at the Bloke a few weeks ago.  But also because menswear events are so much fun!  There’s always so much style present, marking it different than say a Smash Ult. night with the boys.  Plus, there aren’t many events in LA in general, so this was a must-attend.  Based on conversations with the Bloke and a few others, it also seems that summer is going to be dry couple of months for menswear happenings.  In any case, we all dressed to the nines.

But then again, I don’t know what you expected.

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Dougarino starts us off this time with a pretty cool ensemble.  Its easy going, which fits his aesthetic, but the items themselves are damn interesting.  Pick your favorite piece: the much loved Type 2 denim jacket, the army pants (which bear a striking resemblance to monkey pants, just minus the diaper pocket), or the suede horse bit loafers that echo his vintage L.L Bean tote.

It’s not sartorial or fancy in the slightest, but it’s all steeze.  He’s such a cool guy to hang with and finds the best milsurp shit around.

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The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Will shows us.  Like his older brother Doug, Will rocks a denim + military pant combo, this time taking the form of a chore coat and camo trouser, with their grandfather’s rope as a belt. I’m not sure how much of this is Doug’s overt influence, but I dig it.  The looks are similar, but the vibes themselves are different.

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Michael wears an outfit that is basically my after-work attire!  Throwing on a military jacket over separates is something easy to do and I heavily recommend it for those who want to stay sharp immediately after the office and ditch their sportcoat. This is a bit of a spoiler for an upcoming article, but I find that military jackets (and chore coats) are a bit of my “navy blazer” for chore coats; the camo pattern acts a bit as the plaid jackets I break out for interest.

With a denim shirt, brown chinos, and loafers, it’s an easy going look.  A bit of a mix between the Drake’s Boys and Tony Sylvester in a sense.  It’s at home for Michael, who doesn’t get as crazy for Spencer and me, and fits right at home at the Wellema party.

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Joshua Gooch, guitarist extraordinaire, always knows how to kill it with his outfits.  A unique take on Americana mid century style, Josh’s ensembles are a great combination of classic pieces.  Under his bespoke navy Wellema fedora, he has a vintage grey aloha shirt, tucked into some fantastic light brown vintage hollywood waist trousers.  The jacket is actually a recent cotton-linen one by Uniqlo, which I heavily recommend as a beater jacket.  It’s unconstructed with patch pockets, so it has a proper home among most classic menswear wardrobes; I got a navy one for my Japan trip!

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Spencer has really come into his own for his style, almost completely abandoning his sartorial stuff (since he doesn’t really have much reason to wear a tie anymore).  Following Doug and Will’s lead, Spence-Dog has his own ratty Lee chore coat, worn over a paisley sportshirt and olive military chinos. As you can see the silverbelly fedora (a vintage one) works as a great workwear accent to this casual outfit.  If you like fedoras but seldom dress “up”, that’s the one to get.

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Garret might have my favorite outfit thus far, again echoing the theme for a future blog post. I’ve been intrigued by “casual” (or unconventional suiting?) for a little while, and this linen piece made by Clutch Golf takes the cake. The buttoning style and lapels make it look more like a peacoat than a traditional DB, but that’s all a part of the charm.

The linen slouch and light tones are accentuated with a band collar shirt, untucked to further casual-ize the outfit.  To me, the proportions and fit are a slight mix between avant garde and Japanese style, and is similar to how my MFA friend Aaron wears his clothes.

I love the use of the silverbelly fedora (again a bespoke Wellema) but the “daring” use of black oxfords against the white/tan tones is the real reason to celebrate.

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Hal makes his return after joining us from our black tie evening at the LA Phil. He’s actually a pretty prominent poster on our FB group, so you should join if you feel left out.

Like Garret, Hal has a tonal ensemble but executed differently.  The $30 ebay-ed safari jacket is a great choice to get into the Wellema vibe, but I do like how it’s worn with a foulard tie and a pocket square to make it a bit more conservative.  Again, it’s Tony Sylvester outfit in my eyes, and it’s just begging for a panama hat or a linen beret (yes, they apparently have those).

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I like that MJ has been making an effort to come to menswear events and the effect definitely shows in his style evolution.  That evening, he wore his J.W Anderson x Uniqlo seersucker chore blazer, a piece that is definitely much different than the cotton-linen ones they currently have thanks to its 3-roll-2 stance and patch pockets.

MJ’s outfit has that prep vibe, thanks to the use of rugby shirt (that I also own), chinos, and desert boots.  It jut goes to show you that prep/ivy is such an easy style to wear and will always look sharp.

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Here’s ya baby boy Ethan. I really liked this for a few reasons, namely the new pieces I’ve received. This brown cotton suit is my latest commission from Atelier Fugue, the maker behind the navy suit I wore to the last Drake’s trunk show.  Since then, I’ve made a few adjustments to my pattern, namely a roomier chest and a slightly longer length (though I may reduce the length by 0.5cm next time); the sleeves could also be loosened.  The weight is lighter than the cotton one, but its still a great cotton that contains a bit of stretch.  I can’t wait to break this in over time.

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Buttons undone means more sex appeal, right?

The other major piece I liked was my black sawtooth rayon shirt (H&C label), copped in Koenji, famous for it’s vintage shops in Japan.  Firstly, the rayon is not exactly common for sawtooth shirts, as they are normally in denim or cotton blends. This shirt also lacks the typical western yokes, making it a bit more wearable for my more sartorial style.  It’s a perfect match for my brown suit, as I’m starting to combine these colors way more often (usually in a casual context).

Adding a vintage circle-motif rayon scarf adds some extra flair to the outfit, and with my bespoke Wellema, it becomes definitely something the Bryceland’s boys would wear. That’s especially noticeable when you compare it to this and this; it’s just my take on it, using the pieces I already own.

I won’t deny that I felt really good in this outfit. I might do more of it as summer comes on, necessitating the need for cotton suiting and rayon shirting, but you can tell me if you dig it or not. Chances are, I’ll wear it anyway.

Party Snapshots

Despite the jet lag and massive amounts of Japan recap I have to do, I took hundreds of snaps yesterday of everyone hanging out.  It definitely helps that everyone not only was extremely well dressed, but was friendly and down to be immortalized in digital.  I do like getting to meet people and talking, but there’s something special about being a bit of a wallflower, running around taking pictures.

I hope you enjoy.

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Is this art

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Open sleeves and blouse-y shirts make me feel like a flamenco dancer.

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The SaDCast boys (don’t get on mic MJ).

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Red Rabbit.

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Cody snapping pictures of his clients for his archives.

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Who doesn’t love eating tacos?

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TJ snapping pictures.

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A damn good corduroy jacket.

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Maiko and her daughter.

 

 

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A red Wellema.

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Mike French of Red Rabbit.

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Hector, describing his desired hat for Cody.

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Anne, looking at the photobook I shot for Cody last year.

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Jared of Isaia, a proud owner of a Wellema bespoke fedora.

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Great style!

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Grady Wellema.

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Cody and Akira, his old apprentice.

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The Wellema family.

Impromptu Photobooth

Here’s a few of those photobooth pictures I promised. There were too many, so I picked just one from each person!  Maybe this should be a side hustle…

 

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Akira has such great style.  I would be remiss if I didn’t credit him with a few of my casual looks.

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New tinder picture?

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The creative director of 2120 Handcrafted never looked so good.

 

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Pogi naman!

 

Conclusion

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I’m so happy that Wellema has made it to three years and am immensely proud of everything that Cody has done.  In fact, I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my friendship with this man.  Through allowing me to be his photographer in recent years, (he eventually bought his own camera and has taken some amazing stuff), it’s allowed me to experiment with the craft and put me in contact (or at least notice) with some of menswear’s figure heads.  I’m also eternally grateful that he made me my own fedora through this genuine friendship!

Be sure to check out Wellema Hats when you’re in the area and talk to Cody. If he’s got time in between his well deserved mountains of orders, you’ll be amazed at his knowledge of the craft and how well he can assist you in choosing what your hat will look like.  Hell, he’s even got straw coming out soon, so you’ll be covered in summer. He really is the best hat maker in the world.

The party was such a fun time and I hope you got a taste of what the menswear scene is like in LA.  If it’s given you FOMO, then good; that was my intention.  Just be sure to come out to the next event! It’s always open and I’ll be happy to meet you.

Always a pleasure,

@ethanmwong

Street x Sprezza

Photography by me

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