Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Advertising, Clubs and Outrageousness.....

Check out this rare S.T.P. cotton jacket by Artex that I have listed on ebay. I often wonder what makes for "cool" clothing..and I'm speaking to clothing made back in the day before branding, advertising and Ed Hardy designs took ordinary men and turned them into extraordinary cockatoos. Back in the day, clothing was more or less a uniform. A man's job was to represent his job and his family in the socially sanctioned uniform, it was the woman that would dress in an extravagant manner. There is an amazing tension that exists between clothing created within the convention of the uniform and the sanctioned violation of those codes by various "subversive" groups and their custom clothing. These groups countermanded social convention to "customize" and or rebel in various forms, and subverted mainstream fashion both for economic and social recognition. There is a definite postwar development of this kind of subversion that eventual develops into Kustom Kulture. You can see it in Biker culture...which often stemmed from military culture, you see it in Gay and Tourist culture in the artful themes of early gabardine shirts and silk Hawaiian shirts, and you see it in corporate advertising prints which mimic and intertwine with the culture of customization.

These STP jackets and outfits were given to staff, sponsored racers and employees. While I was wearing this STP jacket I was stopped on the street by a woman who's dad worked for the company...they gave him an entire closet full of jackets, t-shirts and coveralls to wear and give cool is that!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Designers...Cabaals and Canada....Nafta

What does a rag dealer in Canada, a rag market in Tanzania, and a rag market in Pasadena have in common?

Ever wonder where and why and how all these marvelous items of clothing end up here on my blog. I often take for granted the weird magical world that I have been living in for the last 20 years. Basically a confluence of events led to my interest in vintage clothing. Besides the vintage wearing professors in my department of Film Studies (Thanks Will Straw) and a bizarre obsession with film noir, I had classic bad Gen X timing. I should note that I have some how modeled my life after Desperately Seeking Susan. I live in a loft in Chinatown with my own movie theatre and with my gorgeous vintage wearing wife. When I graduated from university Canada and the U.S. were in the biggest recession since Job options were few and I was left to my own resources to survive. A little known fact but Toronto is the centre of the vintage universe. In an intersection of seemingly impossibly happenstances as intricate as that which led to life forming on Earth, the creation of vast oxygen atmospheres and oceans and the perfect distance from the sun...all the factors of my sad state of employment came together at once.
Here in Toronto we have the highest immigrant population in North America. One particular group of Ismail's arrived here from East Africa fleeing the regime of Amin in Uganda. These intrepid newcomers were looking for business' to buy, simultaneous to the retirement wave of elder Jewish rag dealers whose children had no interest in the rag business...and bamn Toronto became the rag centre of the universe. Needless to say cut off from the centre of rag dealing in Los Angeles...Toronto rag dealers used cutting edge tools to flog their massive stock of unique historical clothing pieces to the really important guys in L.A. Slowly a complex network of clothing historians, vintage dealers, fashion buyers/designers and stylists developed a web of stock and trade that has shaped almost all of the fashion style trends of the last 20 years. And people thought it was The Sartorialist or something...Hah! I will not reveal who these style makers are of course for fear I may end up dead...but I can tell you that it is the beautiful admirers and wearers of original vintage that ultimately fuel the fire of design.