We aren’t the only ones still gushing over The Original Key-Bak Key Reel. David Coleman, a writer for The New York Times “fashion and style” section, recently published an article titled: “You Don’t Need a Lot of Brass“ to explain the emerging trend of the key holder in mens fashion. The article specifically mentioned Key-Bak’s classic #5 Key Holder as a go-to choice for men “blessed with an embarrassment of keys.”
Coleman discussed how the retractable key chain holder found its way to the theatre, and made a “surprise entry in the pantheon of 20th-century style greats”, as key holder’s could be found gripping the hips of hollywood’s hippest movie stars, such as James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Cary Grant.
This same column featured Madeline Weeks, the fashion director at GQ magazine, who called Key-Bak’s #5 Self Retracting Key Badge Reel a “handy, trusty masculine accessory that looks cool whether you’re a punk rocker or a guy who just wants a little attitude. And it looks good whether you’re wearing it with jeans or tweed trousers.”
Now, if I may, I’d like you to think about your current key chain holder. Think about this for just a minute. You use it to carry your most important items, your keys, everywhere you go, every day of your life. Why do you wear that one? Was it the first one that caught your eye at a gas station? A free gift? Is it something you’ll want to be carrying on the day you die?
If you’ve never asked yourself these questions before, then keep them rolling in the back of your mind while you continue reading below. You’ll have a sharper sense of style as soon as this article ends.
Now that my experiment in mind control is underway, I’d like to touch upon the cool history of this American made key-bak key reel. It began in 1948, when American entrepreneur Russ Lummis, the founder of Key-Bak, invented the world’s first retractable key chain reel. He did this all with the good intention of providing railroad workers with a safer alternative to the dangling key chains that were being worn by brakemen and switchmen after too many of them were getting tangled up in moving trains.
As the railroad men began traveling far and wide through the country, men caught sight of this new retractable key reel and it became a best selling among those who had to load up to 15 keys weighing between 8-10 oz. The 2″ chrome diameter with a belt clip attachment and stainless steel chain (that will not weather or rust) only weighed 2.5 oz and came with a Lifetime Service Policy that made it hard to pass up.
This key-chain badge reel has directly saved the lives of tough as nails railroad workers that helped shape our country in the 20th century,and lasted far longer than the thousands of miles they had travelled On The Road. Yet who ever could have imagined that this iconic, pocket-watch sized key reel could then emerge as a fashion trend in the year 2013?
And here we are 60 years and the internet is buzzing over the Original Key-Bak Key Reel. With fashion blogs and magazines such as reddit’s own malefashionadvice seeking out essential“everyday carry items“ that every man should be carrying, it’s easy to see how the key chain would make a comeback. For those of you unfamiliar with the honor that comes with this new term, according to Wikipedia calls everyday carry items, (EDC) “a small collection of tools, equipment and supplies that are carried on a daily basis to assist in tackling situations ranging from the mundane to the disastrous.” Everyday-Carry.com calls EDC “a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness.”
I suppose that since history was born to repeat itself, it was only natural for keybak’s classic #5 key holder to make a comeback in men’s fashion. In an age where information travels through computers instead of transit, we find a traditional choice conquering in a brave new world, where “accessories makers have been rethinking the multikey chain as a snappy accent that can hang outside of a guy’s pants rather than heavily (and invisibly) weighing down his pocket”.
You might prefer this key bak key reel in black, so definitely check out the key bak #5b key reel as well as the rest of our selection of key-bak retractable key reels before you make any final decisions. If you’d like a smaller version of this reel, check out our videos below of Patrick & Cindy playing with some of beloved key-bak mini-bak retractable reels to see these in action!
SO, what’s the story behind your key chain? Leave any questions or comments below.