Thursday, January 13, 2011

Design Pieces: The Cool People Who Know

Donwan Harrell
There have been interesting transitions that have happened over the years in the vintage clothing business.   I started in used clothing in 1993.  I was employment challenged when a friend approached me asking me if I knew where we could find used 501 jeans.  I found him a couple of hundred pairs and a business was born.  He and I parted ways after 5 years but we learned about the business as we went.  We learned by selling to other dealers, we learned from selling online at Farley's auction, and we learned from our earliest and largest Japanese customer Daytona!


Those were amazing days when there were few people in the vintage clothing business and a huge supply of used clothing here in Toronto.  We could not work fast enough to keep up with demand, and not a day went buy where we didn't find rare and interesting vintage.  We barely knew what we were doing.  Needless to say things don't stay the same for ever.  With the rise of the internet and the creation of ebay,
 
our rudimentary knowledge of the collectibles market popularized and became more accessible.
 Like all business' change was motivated by economics.  I had to keep learning about new areas of vintage.  Rarer and harder to come by items became key to my survival over younger more eager pickers.  At some point my business changed from supplying cool stores in NYC, LA and Japan to hunting down rare and unique pieces clothing for designers.  In fact my desire to start making leather jackets was motivated by a 1920s jacket I sold to Spencer Birch at RRL back in the day that then became the front page showpiece on the Ralph Lauren site.  I thought...hey I can do this!  As vintage stores declined and the supply of vintage became harder to come by, designers increasingly became far more important for my survival.  I have the privilege of getting to know and work with some of the most successful and talented

 people in the fashion and design world.  It is inspirational to me that such amazing people who make clothing that is worn globally would spend any time with a micro company like myself nevermind engage me for my expertise.

Last month on of fashion's giants Donwan Harrell came by for a visit.  DW is one of the top designers at NIKE and owner of many global lines of clothing including PRPS jeans.  Very very cool.  We hung out, looked at design pieces, spoke about his love of vintage muscle cars and did a little business.  The absolute best part for me was the kudos DW gave my new designs and leather jackets!  I couldn't ask for better "props" than that!  I was floored when he ordered one.

It is simply amazing to me that after years of working away in this quiet corner of Canada, how global the fashion business has become and how the internet has completely revolutionized the way I communicate and meet people in my business!  These are pictures from my office, and from the PRPS collection and store.  The cafe racer is a post war Buco horsehide jacket with custom paint from a Motorcycle dealership. Check out that "nouveau Appalachian" denim style.