I’m excited to share details about a wet shaving project I have been working on over the past several months. The Spearhead Safety Razor Case is a modern reproduction of the original Gillette Khaki Set – a 100-year old design that has stood the test of time.
It started with a search for the perfect travel case for my safety razor. Since then it has grown into a relationship with a military sewing contractor, a new LLC, a lot of trial and error, and ultimately a new wet shaving accessory.
Inspired by History
I wanted to make the Spearhead Case as close to the original 1918 Khaki Set as possible, but I knew there would be minor modifications necessary. For this reason the case is “inspired by history” and not an authentic historical reproduction.
The case holds true to the general dimensions and contours of the 1918 Khaki Set from my collection. The only changes we made to dimensions were to address shrinkage (the original has shrunk over the past century) and to address the difference in thickness/flexibility of the modern nylon.
There are some other changes beyond the updated nylon fabric. The color is Foliage Green (AKA Army Gray) – a modern military gray with just enough green to pay homage to the original Khaki Set. The straps inside have been upgraded from canvas to elastic to accommodate razors of all sizes. Finally, we put two straps to hold the razor head. This allows the head to be positioned with the threads up, which helps to accommodate larger heads like Rockwell.
Built to Last
We focused on durability, which impacted everything from the materials to the the stitching.
The Mil-Spec 500D nylon is very wear resistant and it resists shrinking, staining and water damage. Every point of tension is reinforced with additional stitching using industrial bonded thread to ensure the stitches stay secure over time. The fabric is die cut for precision and double-layered for weight and durability.
We scrapped many cases early in the production process (like the entire first production run – but that is a story for another day). But it was worth it to create a wet shaving product we are proud of.
We know that many wet shavers use heirloom-quality razors. Our goal is to create a case that lasts as long as the razors it protects.
Made in the USA
I learned that there is more to calling something “Made in the USA” than just manufacturing it here. In addition to the labor, nearly all of the components need to be domestic materials. In our case, it meant that the fabric we use needs to be American-made.
Domestic materials cost more but we felt it was important to the legacy of the Khaki Set to manufacture an American-made product. As such, virtually all of the Spearhead Case inputs are manufactured in the USA. The case was designed, prototyped and sewn in Ohio and Western New York using nylon fabric made in mills throughout the US. The Spearhead Case is a true “Made in the USA” product.
I travel frequently for work and I wanted a safety razor case that was small, light, and durable. A friend owned a Gillette Khaki Set from WWI – a small canvas case that was exactly what I wanted. I purchased my own vintage Khaki Set but the case was too old and stiff. I found my wife’s sewing machine and attempted to make my own.
My attempt at a homemade case was semi-successful. It was ugly but functional (it was my first time using a sewing machine). But my real desire was to upgrade the case to modern military materials (500D nylon) while preserving the design and aesthetics of the original single-snap Khaki Set. If I wanted an upgraded case I would need some outside help.
I knew that military contractors would have the equipment, materials and expertise to reproduce the Khaki Set. But finding a contractor to make a handful of razor cases was an uphill battle. I wasn’t trying to order 5,000 pieces and the wet shaving industry isn’t exactly “tactical” in nature.
I received a lot of rejection from contractors, but that was not a surprise to me. I knew that if I wanted to see the project through I would need to show a level of commitment.
So I jumped in head first. I set up an LLC, funded a business checking account, and created a new company. Spearhead Shaving Company was formed.
I found a contractor who was a great fit for my project. They specialize in small pouches and bags for military & police, but they also do private contract work. Most importantly, they understood my vision for a high-quality American-made razor case.
I underestimated the difficulty of prototyping. Some fabrics wrinkle and bunch when they are sewn around corners. Some are too thin while others are too stiff. There are constant tradeoffs for durability and aesthetics. Colors are hard to judge from a swatch. Imported materials are cheaper than US materials.
What seemed simple – recreating the Khaki Set – involved more decisions than I expected. I settled into a vision for the Spearhead Case that made decision-making easier for me. I wanted the case to be:
- Inspired by History
- Built to Last
- Made in the USA
These principles guided many of the decisions during the development of the Spearhead Case.
I am pleased to say that we are now in our second full production run of the Spearhead Case. I’m honored and energized by the positive response to this project.
Thank you for reading this post, and thank you in advance if you decide to purchase a Spearhead Case. This has been a gratifying project and I have enjoyed making a product to serve the needs of wet shavers.