Friday, April 16, 2010

Hot Jackets and Random Thoughts!

I had recently been given a quizzical look when I used a term that I had never heard until my arrival in Los Angeles and attendance at a Ralph Lauren RRL party, "Nouveau Appalachian".  I enjoyed the perplexed raised eyebrow and moved on.  This of course is now in my lexicon.  Over my years of subcultural styles I participated in multitudes of "looks". We all have, all you have to do is go back into your year book in high school and through the window of time you will discover that you too had a "look".  With vintage dealing I am routinely selling articles of clothing to clothing nerds of all types, mainstream, sidestream and extreme!  There are many emergent styles for guys between the ages of 25 and 50 that are typical for my clients.  There are Bobber motorcyclists, military fetishists, surfer nuts, car club junkies and these new style of "Appalachianists" lol.  I fall into all those categories due to my huge closet and propensity to live inside factories with heavy equipment.  Since starting my blog there is now a dirge of bloggers out there celebrating every component of the cultural tapestry.  Blogging seems to be the last open free space where people reuse and recycle culture without fear of the "G" men coming down and whisking us away to prison.   Most of the blogs dont bother writing a whole lot but they sure dig up beautiful images from early 20th century North America and celebrate the "working man".  Perhaps we have a nostalgia for this simpler time, perhaps the longing is for a lost set of morals and ethics, or maybe it is some long ago sense of purpose.  Whatever the reason, this backward looking fetishistic obsession has translated itself nicely into both vintage and new clothing.  I too get a tear whenever I go to  Michael Williams A Continuous Lean or Rivethead and see scenes from the past and memories.  I'm really glad that there is a space where bloggers can share both their personal and public bricollage of style and imagery to create the future.  Im superbly happy when people send me pictures and stories of their own families, parents and uncles and their old leather jackets!

This jacket appears to be a Levis work jacket from the 1890s its incredible!  Carters was a Famous workwear and denim brand and this is clearly an early piece from the 1930s.  And the horsehide is one of the finest condition ones I've seen from my own city of Toronto from the 1930s.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Malcolm Mclaren, Situationist, Bon Vivant Ringmaster Extrodinaire

In my world I absolutely adore context.  Context is the mysterious confluence of forces and people that create the culture and all the shiny happy things that make existence worthwhile.  My view of the world believes that the confluence of scenes, influential people and subcultures created everything good on the consumable planet and corporate megopolies, greed and indifference created everything bad...I sound like a borderline commie.  Trust me this is not the case as the shades of grey come in battleship, tope, graphite, ashphalt and on and on.  Malcolm Mclaren died this week and he was one of these social pivots.  Mclaren was a musical and visual spike in the cultural tapestry that created the aesthetic storm that drove my identity in the 1980s.  Mclaren's life spanned a period of radical social shifts and he was a locus of that energy that drove the avant garde of the 1980s.  I don't want to overstate things but if the confluence of music modernism, fashion antifashion and New York City mean anything to you then you were touched by Mclaren.

 One of the infuences in Mclarens life was the "Situationist International".  This group explored the connections between capitalism, mass media and empowerment  (I grabbed the quote from Wikipedia):

"They fought against the main obstacle on the fulfillment of such superior passional living, identified by them in advanced capitalism. Their theoretical work peaked on the highly influential book The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord. Debord argued in 1967 that spectacular features like mass media and advertising have a central role in an advanced capitalist society, which is to show a fake reality in order to mask the real capitalist degradation of human life. To overthrow such a system, the Situationist International supported the May '68 revolts, and asked the workers to occupy the factories and to run them with direct democracy, through workers' councils composed by instantly revocable delegates."

Malcolm came from Schmata.  His Jewish mother remarried and with Macolm's step father ran a clothing factory in Londons East End.   He grew up around clothing.  Mclaren was a supreme dandy celebrating beautiful things, clothing and tailoring and destroying those same values in spectacular fashion.  His own clothing creations with his gf Westwood are legendary.   Punk Rock would probably not have been as influential without Mclaren and the Sex Pistols and the excellence of his branding.  His life is a story of puddle jumping from now famous cultural inflences like Deborah Harry and Westwood.  The agendas of cultural terrorism by radical groups like King Mob in England all contributed to Mclaren's genius but he was a lense for all that unfocused cultural energy.  As predicted by the politics of the movement itself...all that radicalized spectacle of Mclaren et al has become reified events of mass culture, a mere chimera of politics now all empty style!  Check out this great rememberance by Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls...


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Flea Markets and the "Eye"

As strange as it sounds one of the rarest skills you can have in the world of vintage leather jackets is the "eye" What is the "eye"? It is the rarest of the rare person who can walk around looking at thousands and thousands of items of personal clothing, diamonds, faces or any other commodity of beauty and pick out the finest, the best, the most unique ones. For someone with the "eye" uniqueness and beauty explode out out from a sea of mediocrity like a bright shining light. You can trust me after 20 years of employing people whose only job is to find pretty clothing there are those that try and every once and a while there is a genius that can spot the finest fabric, pattern or design, with just the tiniest corner poking out of a huge pile of clothing. These "eye" masters are the bread and butter of vintage dealers because they supply all the commodities behind the history of the these garments. I'm more of a "history" dealer and these guys are genius hunters. Check out Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa (Stargate Atlantis) hunting around for her perfect piece of clothing...or wait, there is fellow Canuck Michael Cera!! Look at the lads from 35 Summers and Rocky  Mountain Featherbed Company Japan, Kinji Teramoto! That strange salt and pepper coverall is actually a 1920s Harley Davidson rain suit very cool, and the denim is pre 1920s Japanese indigo denim which is super nice and rare!