We’re crazy about vintage. Decades ago it was in order to access an opportunity to experiment with sartorial nuance. As a one-time Bostonian, for me it was Dollar-a-Pound and The Garment District, both vintage destinations in Cambridge. That was the second half of the eighties. Vintage allowed for styling that was unpolluted by overtly marketed elements of trend and which was free of any associations that didn’t derive solely from someplace between the unique physical garment and our own utterly individual perceptions.
If I was learning about garment construction from this activity, I was doing it by osmosis.
But enough time has passed that my orientation to vintage has evolved considerably. I’m that slow a learner that it takes a quarter-century or so. Somewhere along the line I accidently played my cards right enough that it’s now my giggle-every-morning-on-the-way-to-work privilege to be able to incorporate my relationship with vintage garments into my daily routine. The search, acquisition, documentation, examination and translation of archival detailing within contemporary designs represents a critical part of the design process undertaken everyday by myself and the team I work with at DENHAM. This ethic is traceable via the Militant Guild of Rural Tailors reasearch blog as well as our Denham Garment Library.
The stylistic potential which used to dominate my attitudes toward vintage has now been at least matched (if not overtaken) by a blunt awareness that these garments manifest our best opportunity to learn about quality and that understanding them better might allow us a small chance at contributing to the great historical trajectory of menswear design itself. I used to think it was healthy hubris to willfully push aside the work of predecessors in order to assert something youthful and “new” of our own devising. Despite seeming more modest at first blush, I now think it represents an even greater ambition to attempt embracing the work of those same predecessors and endeavoring to put a shoulder against the fuller weight of this shared tradition in order to push it forward… if only by inches.
At any rate, these musings resonate along some unexpected avenues inline with current trends. Our awakening to the wastefulness of built-in-obsolescence as contrived in the form of the idea of “the New” in fashion. A new hunger for both tangible and narrative substance among all generations. Call it a new value construct, steampunk (God forbid), the Americana grandpa style, Labels of Common Kin (as rallied by Bread & Butter), Otaku authenticity,… Whatever it is the creators of View Magazine (View on Textile, View on Color, Bloom, and View 2) have allowed a little grandstanding on the subject via their new View Network website. It’s subscriber service but it is out there and certainly the View franchise has always represented unrivaled quality. Maybe worth a look.