“Everything people are buying in the production market today started out as a custom knife somewhere,” says Les Robertson, Field Editor for Knives Illustrated and Blade Magazine. Robertson, who is also an established custom knife dealer, spoke with KnifeNews after attending the 38th annual New York Custom Knife Show (NYCKS), which wrapped up this weekend. The show was held in Jersey City this year with many of the best makers and their knives in attendance.
“Trends start at shows like the NYCKS,” Robertson tells us. “Other custom makers will see what’s selling out and will start incorporating those materials and design cues into their own knives after the show.” But these trends aren’t trapped in the rarefied world of custom knives for long – what sells at shows like NYCKS eventually trickles down onto more affordable knives: “Ultimately, these original ideas will get picked up by the big production knife companies, who work hand in glove with the custom makers,” says Robertson.
Quite a few of the knives exhibited at this year’s NYCKS were smaller, lighter, and simpler compared to the ‘overbuilt’ knives of the last few years. Jesper Voxnaes, a Danish designer who has collaborated extensively with Boker and Spyderco, brought his latest folder the F6, a skinny flipper that hides the entire blade within the scales when closed (see Instagram post below). Greg Medford – whose company Medford Knife & Tool has made folding knives weighing in at over a pound – introduced his lightest and sleekest design yet: the Infraction. The blade features a fuller and Medford’s characteristic deep hollow grind, with a framelock and solid carbon fiber scale to reduce weight.
There was plenty of elaborate craftsmanship and exotic, expensive material on display this year, like this Brian Tighe-designed “Tighe Tac Two” folder featuring Timascus handles and a Damasteel blade (see Instagram post below). But Robertson is beginning to see a shift away from the complex, rare, and unattainable knives that until recently have been selling so quickly. “The demand for tactical folders $2,500 and above is starting to wane. The buyers that were there 18 months ago are no longer there,” he says. In the past few years, the custom knife industry has seen explosive growth. But as that growth naturally begins to slow and prices fall, we may see a more judicious use of exotic materials. “Makers are moving away from more overbuilt and ornate and we’re seeing makers simplifying and coming up with more practical and affordable designs,” says Robertson. And where the custom knife industry goes, production knives are sure to follow.
Tighe Tac Two’s / Damasteel Blades / Black Timascus / #briantighe #briantigheknives #briantighedesign #tigheknives #usn #knifeporn #knifecommunity #blacktimascus #timascus #buttonlockflipper A photo posted by Brian Tighe (@tigheknives) on