Saturday, March 2, 2013

LA Notebook: RTH "Isn't the World Amazing?!"

Is the name of a series of photographs by Rob Howard currently shown at RTH. It pretty much sums up the spirit of the man behind RTH, native Texan, Rene Holguin.

photo by peggy wong

Three different friends, from different parts of my life, told me to make sure I met Rene and see his gorgeous shop when I was in LA. He is every bit as charming, gracious and talented as they said, and his tiny little shop is a rustic jewel box of inspiration.

Photo by Megan Small

It is all about the mix at RTH. Starting with entering through a  humble back-porch screen door, into an  interior of raw plywood paneling and sisal.  There is an intoxicating scent of tanned leather, cedar, and dessert greens, and instantly you are transported.

The material mix is raw, hand crafted leather, distressed denim, washed cottons, canvas and linen layered with vintage Navajo textiles, serape blankets and Native American beaded jewelry and  kilt pins. The apparel is easy: simple, washed, and neutral meant to be layered in one's own personal way.  The leather bags and envelopes are simple shapes, with his signature hand-stiching detail and unfinished edges.

Like Holguin, RTH's roots are firmly planted in America's Southwest, but there is a common artisanal vibe that weaves through many indigenous cultures. RTH taps into that vibe, creating a global mix that translates beyond the Texas borders.

photo by megan small

Hearing his story, one quickly understands how it all comes together to create his very singular point of view. He humbly describes himself as the son of a boot maker and an interior designer, growing up in El Paso, Texas, with a yearning to come East. His mother had incredible, innate style and his father taught him about crafting cowboy boots and working with leather. He did go East and his career, shaping brands in the creative depts @ Ralph, Lucky Brand, Levi's and J. Crew, further shaped his eye to culminate in RTH. Check out this sweet video about Rene and RTH from Gourmet Films.

The beaded bracelets and pins are hand made by the Blackfoot Indians of Montana. Many pieces in the shop are limited editions from different artisan groups. 

photo by megan small

photo by megan small

The re-cycled leather flowers are handmade and cut from old leather jackets. These rescued beauties, are given a second life from vintage jackets that Rene says were not so nice. One can also buy his leather version of an old school ID bracelet and have it hand stamped with your initials while you wait. His creative workshop / studio is just out back.

photo by megan small

The elements that distinguish a great brand, regardless of it's scale, are evident through out.
His philosophy and style carry over to his collaborations as seen at the new pop-up shop he worked on for Citizens of Humanity.

There is consistent design DNA and a spirit that makes you happy and want to be a part of it. Holguin is quoted as saying," Design is in something, style is in the sum of things." and goes on to say," Real, Truth. Honest. All timeless qualities I like in people, things, and personal style."

And back to those amazing photographs. They are also available in sweet postcards.

Isn't the world amazing?!
Rob Howard

The theme of the shop changes four times a year, so stay tuned. On leaving, Rene wanted us to be sure to see what was newly etched on his front window. It said it all:  HAPPY

RTH SHOP 537 North La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 310-289-7911
Mon - Sat 11:00- 6:30

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