No sponsorship, one kidney, tuberculosis, a broken back…
All set for the London Olympics…1948
Introducing George Weeden who was finally honoured today as Olympic torch bearer…
Introducing George Weeden who was finally honoured today as Olympic torch bearer…
This just washed up on our shores, a 1943 dated Royal Navy Seaman’s Protective Suit by the Dunlop Rubber Company. Looking as good as the day it was made, we particularly love the ingenious functionality of the carrying bag that reverses into the hood of the jacket.
Some accidental patterns have emerged again out of the woodwork, so to speak. Unintentional but still beautiful, strange how these patterns seem to attract each other, whether it’s the pinked leather edged heel of a work boot on the spiky pattern of an Indian runner, or 1930s geometric fair-isles, or even Adidas stripes through wire mesh.
Seek and ye shall find…
Hard to find but well worth seeking out is this Japanese publication of photographs of John Lydon’s post Pistols incarnation, P.i.L., by Dennis Morris. It documents an interesting period in Punk chronology, when key figures were attempting to shake off earlier incarnations. It also sheds light on their Jamaican influences, early publicity shots from the 1st album and the legendary ‘Metal Box’ 2nd album, their creative London base, and of course Lydon’s distinctive ad hoc dress style.
Not only known for her tubular steel furniture, Charlotte Perriand’s work took a defining Eastern lean when she visited Japan in 1940-42. A trip whose influences permeated the rest of her design career, and one which is concisely curated and illustrated at this retrospective exhibition currently on at the Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo.
Whilst in Japan she embraced traditional craft techniques, utilising them in her wooden and bamboo furniture, and the Japanese standard size unit of tatami matting, which then determined room size etc., helped to further her, and Le Corbusier’s goal of a standardised system of measurements in construction.
If you get the chance to ‘go see’ you could also check out Jantiques, just down the road in Nakameguro.
Dimitri Omersa and his wife Inge arrived in England in 1955 settling in a sanctuary for refugees in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Dimitri a Yugoslav by birth had been a naval officer and political prisoner, imprisoned by Tito after the Second World War. On arriving in England Dimitri entered the leather trade representing a small leather company in Hitchin, during this time he met a leather goods designer at Liberty’s of London known as ‘Old Bill’.
According to the Omersa website it seems that the first pig came into being almost by accident when ‘Old Bill’, who worked for Liberty’s of London making hand luggage from pigskin, experimented with leather left overs. He came up with the idea of a stuffed leather pig footstool which was sold through Liberty’s in 1927 and became an instant success.
‘Old Bill’ was due to retire and a deal was struck for Dimitri Omersa to take over the business and continue the supply of pigs to Liberty’s. The business was brought to Hitchin in 1958 and before long Omersa began work on other animals. His first new piece was an elephant, followed by a donkey and rhinocerous, and sold exclusively in the UK through Liberty’s up until the mid 1970′s, with a tell tale Liberty’s of London stamp under the ear.
In the 1960′s Dimitri took his menagerie of leather goods to the Unites States, where in 1963 he won a Gold medal at the Californian State Fair for the donkey design shown here. The animals were sold through the original Abercrombie and Fitch during the 1960′s. They developed a significant following in the USA, where of course ones preference for the donkey or elephant had a much greater symbolism than in the UK.
For more information on the the history of Omersa who are still making these leather animals go to:
Liberty are still stockists:
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.
So called because they were bought from tailors shops in the far east whilst on liberty, shore leave, by US Navy personnel. These non-regulation additions are stitched on the inside of the jumpers, in particular the cuffs, hidden except to the wearer. The following phoenix and smiling dragon both look very friendly.
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…
When the ‘Home Guard Manual of Camouflage’ by Roland Penrose, a lecturer to the War Office for Instructors to the Home Guard, was first published in October 1941 the prospect of a German invasion on mainland Britain was seen as a very real and probable threat. As a Quaker and staunch pacifist his influence in the development of camouflage techniques during WWII is fascinating, though in his own words “The author makes no claim to their originality, many of them are as old as warfare itself”.
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…
What’s not to like about this? Stripes, Fair-Isle, glorious beard, vintage camera…
Paul McCartney getting back to nature, going native on the beautiful island of Mull post Beatles.
A cool 1960s sweatshirt with the catchphrase “Ve-e-e-ry Interesting” made famous by Arte Johnson as ‘Wolfgang’ the German soldier, in the era defining comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The psychedelic sketch show ran from 1968 to 1973, and featured a host of cooky counter-culture characters, it also introduced a very young Goldie Hawn to television.
This one features a single Vee front neck, woven label, and probably dates to the late 60s. It is available to buy at the Earlham St. store now.
Words SM / photos NS
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.
As a follow on to the Beethoven sweatshirt craze piece, here is another famous instantly recognisable face worthy of being on a sweatshirt. He happens also to be wearing a very nice V fronted vintage sweat. Perhaps if Ludwig Van was around in the 1950s he too would share Alfred’s taste in American casual clothes, now there’s a thought.
When in Berlin we highly recommend this exhibition of photographs by Ishimoto Yasuhiro, currently showing at the Bauhaus-archiv until the 12th of March. The subject, the 17th century Katsura Detached Palace in Kyoto is remarkably contemporary in design and reminiscent of 20th century de Stijl art, in particular the composition of the panelled rooms look like mini Piet Mondrian paintings. This synthesis of East meets West mirrors the photographers own life story, born in the US in 1921, he was interned during WWII, eventually becoming a Japanese citizen in 1969.
Words SM / Photos Nic Shonfeld
The title, of course refers to the change of the clocks, British summertime extra daylight and all that. But thinking of Spring, what can be better than a classic Ivy, plaid, trad, preppy windcheater, blouson, golf jacket type affair.
A staple of the Spring wardrobe, perfect with khaki chinos, madras, bucks, university sweats, you get it.
Whether it be a London Fog, McGregor, Campus or Champion, here are some details to look for…
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.
“Andy was back real skorry, waving the great shiny white sleeve of the Ninth, which had on it, brothers, the frowning beetled like thunderbolted litso of Ludwig van himself.“*
The whole Beethoven sweatshirt craze started in 1962 as an advertising campaign for Rainier Ale, created by Howard Luck Gossage. An original ‘Mad Men’ Ad man, he was known as the ‘Socrates of San Francisco’, an advertising visionary who preached from a converted firehouse, his ‘anti-advertising’ style captured the zeitgeist, and he’s also credited with introducing Marshall McLuhan to the world of Media.
Jane Fonda sporting the look. This one is dated 1977 and is available in the shop now.
*Taken from A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Words by SM.
2012 sees the return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London after a 64 years absence and we are looking forward to it being a Golden Year!
It seems strangely ironic that when the Olympic torch last came here in 1948 for the official opening, the UK was recovering from the ravages of World War II and the games were christened the Austerity Games due to the disastrous economic climate that presided in the country. That time around it had been due to the ravages of WWII as opposed to a bunch of merchant bankers in the City, and if you are wondering that is indeed rhyming slang.
“the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well” Pierre de Coubertin (founder of modern Olympic Games)
With that said we would like to return you to a summer 60 years ago…..
Words by Douglas Gunn
Customized 1980′s MA1 Bomber from The Vintage Showroom shop archive.
£POA (Merc not included).
Much in the manner of ‘Here hare here’, here is a stash of our new lookbooks. There is something inherently sharp about the regimented clean lines of freshly printed paper stock. The lines of repetition, all neatly tied in bundles and boxed. Hot off the press.
This thing conjures up images from the seminal 1981 John Landis movie An American Werewolf In London, and the tragic, doomed American tourists David and Jack on the bleak Yorkshire moors.
Brands such as Sierra Designs, early North Face and Mountain Equipment typify this 80s nostalgia in outdoors retro. Perfect for this country’s inclement weather at this time of year, get down to down and grab yourself a lighweight but warm, vintage down jacket at our shop in Covent Garden, but remember stick to the roads and beware the moon…
While three’s a crowd, some things are just better in pairs. Strawberries and cream, Lennon and McCartney, Eric and Ernie….
Some details that just work well together such as the double pocket snaps on a paratrooper jump jacket (American or Belgian, take your pick) and the twin zips on the front placket of the US original, not only look good but are there for a reason. The pocket snaps expand to the fullness of the pockets, the twin zips hide the riggers knife, that can be accessed by either right or left hand if the paratrooper’s canopy is fouled.
This Japanese lightweight mohair tunic, with a shot silk lining, is full of interesting titbits, most notably the beautiful hand tailoring techniques and its plethora of pockets and flaps.
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!
Two recent finds that juxtapose so well. This was going to be posted last week but we held back due to the recent trouble. Note the repaired stud marks on the truncheon. They don’t make them like that anymore…’coppers‘ that is.
What to say? the colours speak volumes alone. This is more Grateful Dead meets Frank Spencer meets Kaffe Fassett, than the Duke of Windsor, or Brideshead. The bright, modern colour dyes contrasted to the natural tones of an original are more Isle of Wight 1970, than the Shetland Isles. As loud as it is, it’s all relevant, and just shows the longevity of this particular knit style.
A plaited neck hanger, an unusual but discreet yet considered design detail. Simple. Beautiful.
… shout about it!
This is no time for modesty, we are thrilled to have our Earlham Street store chosen for London as one of Vogue’s 20 favourite shops for 20 cities. Thanks to Lynn Yaeger and Vogue for thinking of us!
Some more jingly-jangly dingle dangle key ring clippy hanger things in the shop again.
Perfect for this weather is this recently unearthed treasure trove, fresh as the day they were made. A stock of saleman’s sample shirts, all with the distinctive CC41 Utility mark.
These Pucci-esque pastel colour Aertex polo’s and candy stripe Egyptian cotton poplin collarless shirts in smock ‘popover’ style, or fully buttoning, seem incredibly modern.
We have just made some more of our vintage key clips, re-using antique belt leather, objets trouvé, and chunky metal hardware. Ideally hung from a belt, you can clip whatever you like on them, keys work particularly well. Available now in the shop, but grab them fast they won’t hang around for long (yawn).
‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’, or so the saying goes. Well, when in Covent Garden we recommend you try Monmouth Coffee, just round the corner from the Earlham St. shop, it’s our preferred brew. They have been roasting coffees from around the globe since 1978, so know a thing or two about your daily cup of java.
Highly recommended is this compact exhibition of photographs of Ernest ‘Papa’ Hemingway by Robert Capa. They first met each other during the Spanish Civil War, and remained close friends until Capa’s untimely death in 1954. ‘Papa & Capa’ is on at the Leica Store Ginza in Tokyo, if you just happen to be passing through…
Hand stitched lovingly with patience, tight, precise threadwork. A real thing of beauty, that graces only the finest bespoke tailoring…
Credibility, dependability and loyalty…
From the earliest times of the British monarchy and court, the most skilled and talented trades people in the country were rewarded for their loyal service to the crown. The first rewards for this service were Royal Charters granted to the trade guilds and livery companies. The earliest recorded Royal Charter was granted by Henry II to the Weavers’ Company in 1155. In 1394 Dick Whittington helped obtain a Royal Charter for his own Company, the Mercers, who traded in luxury fabrics. By the 15th century Royal tradesmen were recognised with a Royal Warrant of Appointment. To this day the Royal Appointment is seen as a mark of quality and rightly so. So with the Royal family in the Nations thoughts and hearts…..
These college sweaters and cardigans, or lettermans, are unashamedly American, and so unlike English collegiate tailoring. Casual, colourful, Pop, sportswear, adorned with an alphabet of loop stitch embroidered letters denoting frat houses, colleges, teams etc.
More Peter Blake in their graphic typography than Warhol, they are just one essential element of perfect preppy Ivy League garb.
When you start to look at things long enough patterns start to emerge. This week it’s chevrons. They seem to be everywhere…
*Detail of the under collar of a British Army khaki tunic.
Read the rest of this entry »
Various sizes, makers and composition, we think nautical stuff is perennially de rigeur.
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…
2011, back from another buying trip and an extension to the showroom with a second room now open. Exciting times ahead! The new space is being used primarily to accommodate our vintage denim and old workwear collections.
A recent buying trip to Paris uncovered these deadstock Italian Navy plimsoles. Now available at the Earlham Street, Covent Garden shop for £35.00.
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 »
A little worse for wear this morning and with no appointments, I just could not face the mountain of paperwork that I should have been tackling. So instead I decided to trash the showroom. Every few months a red mist seems to come over me and when I come to I find myself surrounded by heaps of clothes that I have piled on the floor. I then get the fear that I will never be able to get things back together again. So some 8 hours later things were almost looking as good as they had when I walked in, but at least my head felt better. Some recent finds inspired the following along with archive images that we have been looking through of the Battle of Britain 70th anniversary this year…. Read the rest of this entry »
As always around this time of year, we find ourselves in the midst of a heatwave looking longingly to the nights drawing in and the temperature cooling so we can crack open our Autumn Winter collection. This year is particularly interesting for it seems that for both us and the majority of our customers, inspiration is coming from a snow capped landscape. From Shackleton to Scott, Mallory to Bonington. The back drop moving as the era, from the Artic to Everest to the Cresta run of St Moritz, there is a growing fascination and interest. One that we are more than happy to indulge as it has been something that we have been hooked on for a while. So with London feeling decidedly muggy, try and stay cool and enjoy!
“Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?” ….. “Because it’s there” George Herbert Leigh Mallory 1886 –1924
This is my only nod towards the sorrow of the last few weeks. It felt like an omen when a week before the start of the World Cup we found a 1966 final program and two ticket stubs. How wrong could I have been!
New balls please… Read the rest of this entry »
Although it felt like hoodie weather today where I was, and my thoughts, and recent purchasing has been focused longingly at the amazing A/W showing we are going to be throwing down in a couple of months, I am conscious that Spring is in the air! So as we think of antique shearlings, WWII aviation gear, Edwardian explorers and all the amazing pieces we have been hoarding for the showrooms winter offerings, it is good to stay in the present and think on the next few months and some sun on our faces. It feels like a good balance to have the Earlham street shop as well as the showroom, it keeps us having to think day to day about what people are wanting on there backs here and now rather than what they will want to be rocking in 6/12/18 months time. So with that said, and a tanqueray and tonic in hand (inspiration only), here is a look at some of what we are saying for Spring/Summer at the showroom and Covent Garden store.
With thoughts of Bobby Moore/’66 and dreams waiting to be crushed on hold, we went looking to the banks of Henley, the lawns of Wimbledon, and the halls of Cambridge for inspiration, and took the clock back a little further to when most of the world maps were pink…
Not exactly made by Will Mossop, but by John White in 1941, these beautiful boots are somewhat of an enigma. Made from ‘rough out’ leather, they bear the War Department’s broad arrow, or ‘crows foot’, stitched into the top surface of each boot. One could speculate that these were for military prisoners, possible Officer Class? John White were the largest supplier to the War Department of military footwear during WWII, but these are the only such example we have found.
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