Welcome to Worn our new collaboration with trend forecasters and denim gurus Sue Barrett and Katy Rutherford. Exploring global street style-trends and the vintage garments that inspire them.
Welcome to Worn our new collaboration with trend forecasters and denim gurus Sue Barrett and Katy Rutherford. Exploring global street style-trends and the vintage garments that inspire them.
This beautiful piece of camping/hiking/outdoorsman history was first patented in 1882 by C.Poirier. In context, the Duluth “Poirier Pack Sack” can be seen as the Great-Great-Granddaddy of modern day backpacks…
Camille Poirier a French Canadian, (though we should not hold that against him), first moved to Duluth Minnesota in 1870. A location that should be familiar to all Fargo fans. Initially setting up a small leather workshop making straps, shoes and boots. In 1911 Camille Poirier sold off his company to the Duluth Tent & Awning Co., after which time the bags were called Duluth Packs.
The Duluth pack was designed in order to carry maximum capacity. According to the original patent filed by Poirier – patent no 268,932, he “invented a new and improved Pack-Strap for holding and packing articles of clothing, provisions, and other articles which are to be carried in a package on the back. The invention consists in a bag formed with a flap and provided with shoulder straps and head-strap for supporting and carrying the bag on the back.”
The invention of the “tumpline” strap, a strap that attached at both ends to a backpack which wrapped around the wearers forehead (see illustration), greatly reduced the weight to the wearers back. Unfortunately not found with this pack.
Monsieur Camille Poirier we salute you c’est formidable!
Small is beautiful, but it’s also a good excuse to try out our new macro lens, hoping to pick up the minutiae of detail otherwise lost to the human eye. First up is a collection of crowns, all bullion hand embroidered in wire thread and velvet, on military broadcloth backings. These all happen to be Queen’s crowns, not the more angular King’s crown found for instance on the Air Ministry stamps of WWII when King George VI was on the throne.
The fineness of stitch and complexity of the design can only be fully appreciated ‘up close’ and makes you realise the skill involved, especially when considering they were hand-sewn probably in a dark basement somewhere just off Savile Row.
This US Navy Mackinaw coat has ‘1st Beach Battalion’ stencil stamped on it’s lining – The Beach Battalions being the crack-units which stormed the beaches first, and then controlled the traffic of their ‘pop-up ports’ making it possible for the allies to advance inland – most notably on the beaches of Southern France in 1944. Oddly, there is virtually no official documentation recording the activity and accomplishments of the WWII Beach Battalions. A website, created and maintained by a few surviving members of the battalion, aims at it’s least, to make sure a semi-documented account of activities and achievements reserves it’s place in history. – www.1stbeachbattalion.org
“…but the landings were made and the beachheads established because the men of the “Immortal First” refused to accept temporary setbacks or defeat. When the first wave roared ashore and the boat ramps dropped our battalion was there. And got the job done. Not always according to the book. But done and done well.”
The following text is taken from ‘THE BEACH BOYS – A Narrative History of The First Naval Beach Battalion – Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet WWII’ by W.D. Vey and O.J. Elliot (2001). (click here for pdf version of the book).
‘Beach Battalions were a product of World War II. After Dunkirk, Crete and Corregidor, when it was determined that territory lost to the enemy could be regained only by storming the coasts of Europe and Africa, and the island beaches of the Pacific, concepts of modern warfare changed dramatically. High level planners concluded that they could put assault troops ashore from ships and planes, and that, landed in sufficient force, the infantry could fight its way inland. To stay there however, the infantry had to be supplied with food, weapons, clothing, ammunition, artillery, and tank support. Someone had to control the gigantic flow of material across the beaches while and after they had been assaulted, and to that end the concept of Naval Beach Battalions was born. Shore Parties were nothing new to the Navy. They had been around for years. Most were composed of members of the ship’s company, picked to go ashore to put down revolts, fight fires, give aid in time of disaster, etc., but, during a conflict such as the sea-to-land assaults of World War I, ship’s captains simply could not spare men from the crew for such duties. Accordingly, separate organizations, skilled in jobs related to amphibious warfare, were needed. And so, the Naval Beach Battalions were conceived…’
‘Headed by a Beachmaster and his Assistant, each platoon of a Beach Battalion was assigned signalmen, radiomen, medical personnel, hydrographic specialists, and boat repair experts. In a typical beach assault, the personnel of the beach battalion went ashore in one or more of the first three or four assault waves, scattering their equipment over the beach so that a single bomb or artillery shell would not destroy all of it. Digging their own slit trenches and foxholes on the beach, the men prepared as best they could for possible enemy counterattack while still setting up the beach as a simulated port for the onslaught of supplies, equipment and men soon to be landed in support of the initial assault troops already headed inland to their assigned objectives.’
In 1837 Augustus Siebe, German born but living in England, developed a Diving Helmet which sealed airtight to a rubber suit. The closed suit connected to an air pump on the surface and thus became the first effective standard diving wear of its time. Rewarding Siebe with the moniker “father of deep sea diving”.
Founded by Augustus Siebe and his son in law Gorman, Siebe Gorman and Co. were a British company that developed diving and breathing equipment designed for commercial diving and marine salvage projects. The Augustus Siebe helmet gained a reputation for safety during its use on the wreck of the Royal George in 1840. The combination of safety and design features became the standard for helmet construction throughout the world, some of which were incorporated into the design of modern-day space suits.
Slightly obsessed with these first generation of deep sea divers – in our minds every bit as courageous as those later men and women that would take on the challenge of Space Travel. It was with great pleasure that a recent buying trip to France uncovered this fine collection of diving wear. Dealing with the bends, poor visibility, restricted movement and the fear of unknown sea monsters and giant squid – the experience of the sheer claustrophobia of a 19th century diving suit was in some small way improved by the matching Submariner knit, scarf, long johns and sea socks – all bearing the Siebe Gorman helmet logo.
To be brutally honest, we were ever-so just slightly stumped when it came to these. They look like slippers, but hard leather heel and soles didn’t seem right – who would wear hard leather soles around the house? Well, having consulted our historical shoe oracle and stylist phenomenonata David Nolan, it would appear the Greeks are who wear their hard-soled slippers around the σπίτι (house). These are indeed house shoes, also known as a ‘Grecian’ slipper, and a nice example in tan too. £poa.
What can be more appropriate at this time of year than the autumnal shades of a Harris Tweed two-piece gamekeeper suit. A traditional Scottish design it features distinctive styling such as the cut away front, a shorter body length and the scalloped and glove stitched pocket flaps. Partnered with a kilt and sporran it conjures up images from the film Mrs. Brown or The Shooting Party.
Interestingly the jacket shape is not too dissimilar to some of Vivienne Westwoods House of Mud designs, even some of Christopher Nemeth’s creations. Very Buffalo!
A recent Vintage Showroom find – A 1940s running vest and wool warm-up sweatshirt from the University of Washington.
Before the expression Type II became fashionable, denim afficionado’s and those in the know simply referred to this classic Levi’s 507XX jacket as a Number Two. Number One being the first model and having one pocket, Number Two being the second and having, you guessed it, two pockets.
Simple as that, 1,2, 3, bish bosh.*
Established in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1866 by Civil War veteren Charles Masland – the business was making carpets, including, throughout the 1920s, carpets for the groundbraking Model T Ford cars. Carpeting remained the primary business until 1940, a year before the US joined WWII, when its mills were turned over to the war effort and the production of various canvases and foul weather gear for military use. For this, it even scooped the Board of the Army and Navy’s Excellence Award.
Post-war production eventually returned to carpeting (mid-1950s) but not before Masland successfully turned his looms to the making of outdoorswear, a continuation from the war featuring military touches – the cotton duck fabric is reinforced using leather and suede patches on all the usual ‘heavy-wear’ area’s (cuffs, knees, elbows etc). The mid-1950s saw the company start to trade outdoors-wear under the name of Wood + Stream.
This recent cache of the complete volumes of The West End System of Cutting offers a fascinating insight into the ins and outs, the do’s and dont’s, and pitfalls of late Victorian tailoring. Informative engravings guide you through the difficulties of cutting for ‘disproportionate figures’, the corpulent body and those of a ‘large seat’!
Some of these late Victorian styles of cutaway jackets are now making a comeback thanks to Mister Freedom and the Victorian Gaucho-cum-street urchin look, riding on the tail coat of Steam Punk.
(Look out for an Oscar Wilde lookalike in Engraving V looking particularly Aesthetic in a double breasted lounge suit type affair).
Here’s a nice Sealed Pattern Royal navy jumper, smock, crackerjack top dating from the First World War, or to give it it’s proper name ‘Jumper, Duck’, referring to the heavy linen sail cloth it is made from. This is the garment template, the quality standard from which issued items had to adhere to, and seems to originate from ‘Experimental Establishments, Woolwich and Shoeburyness’. It bears the large linen labels and wax seals of the Clothing Inspection Department and judging by the dates it stayed in War Department stores from 1920 to 1961.
Founded in 1791 by Samuel Peal, Peal & Co. were shoemakers of great repute with a far reaching global client list that included crowned heads of Europe, Presidents and Hollywood royalty, such as Rudolph Valentino, Fred Astaire, Mr & Mrs Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Steve McQueen amongst others.
These Second World War private purchase officers boots have the original Peal’s “S.P.” shoe trees, gold foil blocked logo inside and hobnail soles, and have taken on the patina of polished prize-winning conkers.
Cashing in on the topicality of the film release of the seminal Beat book On The Road, here is a ‘Hobo’ Beatnik classic. Based on the wartime Royal Navy short shawl collared duffle coats, this civilian ladies version dates from the 1950s and has a very aptly named label. Often seen sported by Soho Beats, Sorbonne students, poetry reading peaceniks, CND marchers et al…
The Seventies weren’t all bad taste. Even Savile Row had to move with the times, grudgingly I’m sure, whilst still employing the techniques of tailoring and cutting, and hand finishing that exemplify this bastion of a bygone age in a small corner of London’s West End.
This Huntsman suit from 1972 is a prime example, still displaying impeccable cut and fine tailoring, whilst also exuding a little of the elegance and panache of the era. One button single breasted jacket with side vents and functioning cuffs, flapless hip pockets, bottle green silk lining, and hand stitched buttonholes of course. The trousers are flat fronted with cavalry pockets, a belt tab, and a slight almost imperceptible flare to the leg.
We have not suddenly harked back to the Thatcher years and a Norman Tebbit-like rallying call for the unemployed. Instead we wanted to show a recent find relating to that famous of Lancashire rivalries, predating Fergie and Mancini by some 70+ years.
Karrimor and Carradice; makers of fine cycle bags from the 1930s and 40s…
A nice bundle of selvedge denim aprons from the golden age of American labour. Brass grommets, bar-tacked and pocketed, double stitched etc. With the re-launch of Carter’s we thought we’d show some original examples. Both practical and useful, these shouldn’t just be the preserve of coffee barista’s, and aloof waiters, so let’s try and bring back the humble apron.
Nearly, but not quite…
Original 501s hidden rivets all singing all dancing improvised (allegedly) for the runway back in 90s with GUCCI tags and hardware making them either worthless or priceless depending on your point of view!
As worn by British army commandoes during WWII, like in the film of the title, a ribbed reinforced sweater with shoelace neck drawstring. This one has the broad arrow on the label, and interestingly is dated 1953.
In the same year Ang Nima, a sherpa on the 1953 Everest Expedition is seen sporting one, in this portrait by Expedition photographer Alfred Gregory. Not new territory perhaps but an insight into the longevity of military pieces in a non-military context.
words SM / photo Nic Shonfeld.
Well, marching. Square bashing, drilling, stomping, yomping, yes they are British army officers boots from the 1940s. They bear all the hallmarks of empire building quality leather boots standard issue during the war, increasingly scarce nowadays.
The USAAF World War II-era survival radio transmitters (SCR-578 and the similar post-war AN/CRT-3) carried by aircraft on over-water operations were given the nickname “Gibson Girl” because of their “hourglass” shape.
The ‘Gibson Girl’ was the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen-and-ink-illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States.
Customized 1980’s MA1 Bomber from The Vintage Showroom shop archive.
£POA (Merc not included).
We’re not trying to promote inter-governmental rivalries, honestly. We just thought we’d display some Air Ministry and War Department stamps alongside each other for closer inspection, that’s all!
Introducing the Duxbak Pakbak. Granted it was patented in 1926, so not very new, but we only just found the patent label nestled under the poachers pouch back pocket. A kind of envelope type bellows expandable affair, similar to the later integrated backpack found on the US Army WWII Mountain Jacket.
The rest of the jacket features other innovative details such as the wide split double hip pockets, scalloped fly front, and double ply outer sleeves. Always nice to find the unexpected tucked away, hidden from view, until now…
LEvis 501XX capital E oxblood red tab, hidden rivets, v stitch, blah blah blah…
Lots has been written about vintage denim in recent years, and for obvious reason. It’s the stuff we live our lives in. These pairs, arguably from the Golden Age of denim design, the 1950s, are the perfect synthesis of belt loops, bar tacks, buttons and rivets. The basic design had undergone several stages of evolution by this point to arrive at the near perfect package; the template for the basic 5 pocket jeans model still in use today, much copied and emulated the world over. Just don’t wear them in Texas, real cowboys wear Wrangler’s!
Some more jingly-jangly dingle dangle key ring clippy hanger things in the shop again.
Already on the fashion radar, granted, but this new book of photographs by Karl Heinz Weinberger (Rizzoli 2011) is another chance to look at his innovative work. This unassuming part-time Swiss photographer meticulously documented the delinquent Swiss biker gangs of the early 60s. Swiss cheese this is not! The hard-edged homo-erotic portraits revel in the fetishistic detail of DIY denim and customised leather, the minutiae of a subculture that make these pictures pure fashion. Pre-dating punk and pre-empting the films of Kenneth Anger, the contradiction of the throwback 50s boys style with the 1960’s girls beehives and mohair, make this an essential and fascinating reference.
A true Frankenstein creation. This early 60s RAF pressure jerkin is a real monster. It features a plethora of pockets, and is held together with asymmetric zips, press studs and even bits of string. Life imitates art, as they say.
As a follow on to our recent post about the possible prison issue John White boots, these trousers are unmistakably for a prisoner of war. The broad arrow design makes a rather eye catching advertisement of the wearer.
A recent cache of antique Japanese textiles. Whilst geographically thousands of miles apart from American denim, spiritually at least, we feel they inhabit the same tonal indigo world… or at least they do in our new denim showroom! Each piece has been lovingly repaired and patched by hand over several generations.
Some pictures of an amazing denim collection we bought recently from a lovely lady in the deep South. We were so happy to take it off her hands we had to build another room in the studio to do it justice, forming the centre piece to our denim room.
Though the shop is still moving chunky cables, p coats, and all things down (topped up from our recent North American road trip!), and the weather shows no signs of changing for the time being. Our customers are seemingly a long way from thoughts of Spring. The showroom however is in full Spring/Summer mood, and with the help of some amazing photo albums recently found, we return to long forgotten Summers and thoughts of Spring…
Around this time last year we had the good fortune to purchase a jacket that we had been hunting/discussing/obsessing about for sometime. The Holy Grail of wax cotton jackets known as an Ursula Suit or Admiralty Suit. One year on from our initial posting regarding the suit, the story still excites and fascinates us, and it is still the unquestionable favourite in our collection.
During the Boer War, British soldiers would send home keepsakes to loved ones. Made with fabric torn from their tunics, the soldiers hand decorated the patches with personalized messages of love to those waiting back home.
“Torn from my coat I send to thee this war worn piece of old khaki”
I have a real weakness for old wax jackets, June and July have been hard as the heat has meant I can’t rock my favourite old Barbour the default setting on my wardrobe. Despite it definitely not being wax jacket weather it hasn’t stopped us hunting down some beautiful pieces. While most of the old wax bike jackets we find end up the other side of the Atlantic cruising around Nolita or Lower East Side or wherever our friends in New York sell them, we still like to keep a good collection in the Showroom and Earlham Street store for discerning customers.
This was my favourite of recent finds, not many things breakdown to such an amazing patina as these old wax jackets. A great looking late 60’s Belstaff, Sammy Miller label with an unusual blue tartan lining shown above. Read the rest of this entry »
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