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 well...now. 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.


  1. I recently acquired an old Bermans leather jacket and I can't seem to figure out how old it is. Wilson's leather was no help. How do I go about dating such an item?


  2. OK David I'm hooked. So where can I get one of the jackets above with the padded shoulders?



  3. Reality is these are rare and hard to find...that padded jacket company went out of business about 15 years ago...but.wait patiently grasshopper and for the right amount of money you can buy a vintage one or wait for my original designed, original 40 years ago materials jackets that are being made this year

  4. Bermans is a relatively new company in the leather world 70s..80s...but the best way to date any jacket is from the hardware. The zipper always gives away the age!

  5. OK David...thanks for your blog.. I'will think over it..

  6. Hi David,
    Your site is fantastic! I ran across it as I was trying to do some research on a MINT Hein Gericke cafe racing jacket and am wanting to date and estimate a value. It is fully padded, black with red piping detail. The zippers are wide black heavy duty plastic made by YKK. Jacket is all fully lined and no tears. I could send a pic if it would help. Thanks for letting me gleen from your astounding knowledge on the subject! Cheers, Lea. I can be reached at lea.rainey@hp.com

  7. I cant really guess what your Hein Gericke is worth because I have no real idea...but if you enjoy the jacket and enjoy wearing it thats important

  8. really? how does the zipper give away the age? that's so cool!!

  9. each variation of zipper developed between 1890 and 1970. So you can roughly date a jacket by the variation of the zipper, zipper brand...lining, stitching, cut and label. All those things can place almost any jacket to within a decade of when it was made sometimes even closer..combined with the sales catalogs and advertisements of the companies in question. I have a 1910 catalog with a jacket from that catalog in a previous post for example.

  10. First of all, congratulations for this great blog you make.

    Do you know any brand that actually produces this kind of padded shoulder jackets like the one you posted? or even better, any chance to get a vintage one?
    Did i understand well that you're gonna produce them yourself this year?

    Thanks a lot and keep up with the great work.

  11. Gui,
    the first thought is buy vintage...or go to Lanlitz...if that doesn't suit you wait for a few months I will make a cafe racer similar to a 1950s cal leather jacket with shoulderpads

  12. Hi David,

    Love the website and all the info on it from your early days. As I read I was transfixed, very happy with a little smile on my lips. I then got to the best bit the photo of me on Ebay in the vintage TT Leather biker jacket I sold, Wonderful photo and fantastic modeling by the very handsome fellow( If I do say so myself) I lived in Montreal in the early 90s and met my wife working in a cracking watering hole on St Laurent blvd the Biftek, filled with some great people from rockers to punks to lawyers all enjoying the great atmosphere, beer and music. I am now working in Calgary and commute in and out for work but my wife being from Ottawa is plaguing me to move back and we are in early January. I am still buying and selling Vintage jackets and have a couple of cracking Lewis leathers that I will keep hold of and bring with me, If I get the chance to come up to Toronto we should hook up and have a beer. Also keep using the wonderful photos and I would like to include a link about your website and blog in my listing if that is cool with you of course? One last thing I see you like the old Lambrettas so check out my listing on ebay of mine which I may have to sell before we move as I cannot get it in the container ( Lambretta Li 150 Series III) under my name Tafftradersltd. Drop me a note (kileymaclennan@hotmail.com) great reading keep up the good work. All the best Kiley

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