Vintage follows Form follows functionby Eyal de Leeuw | 14.12.12
The Garconniere is so retrosexual. He loves classic pieces of clothing, he adores iconic garments from men wardrobe and more than anything – he appreciates people who know about all those things. Like Doug Gunn from the Vintage Showroom, one of the best men vintage store in the world, who just published “Vintage Menswear: A Collection from the Vintage Showroom” (Laurence King Publishing)
I interviewed Mr. Gunn for Ha’aretz newspaper, but here are some things he said worth mentioning:
“Vintage has become such a buzz word that I hate it sometimes”, he wrote to me. “Just the latest marketing speak to sell products, everything from vintage paint to mass produced clothing that will be landfall before the season even ends. In regards to what we do I still use it, we do not sell “antique” clothing – “vintage” sounds better for us and I like the association with wine much more. A lot of the interest in vintage I think is through nostalgia, the world has changed so fast that people look back to an imagined earlier time when life was better or simpler”.
How do you find the pieces for your showroom? what are you looking for when you search for items?
“We are constantly hunting for vintage for our showroom, forever following leads to abandoned farmhouses in Europe full of old workwear, flea markets in Asia where they have just found a container of old denim donated in 1950’s, Estate sales in the British country side where literally every item of clothing a man had worn in his life was kept over, we end up on a lot of wild goose chase which can be fun in their own right but we love the chase and the hunt and that feeling of never knowing what we will find.
The more we buy the more selective we become. We are always looking for something new something different to the norm. A pocket detail that we have not seen before, a tartan with a crazy mix of colours, a beautiful interior detail to a 1930’s bespoke suit, the perfect fade of indigo. It is so hard to quantify what makes a piece special to us. That is really what our customers buy into. They like to come and see what we have found, what we are excited about – and hopefully that in turn sparks something in their creativity.
Your book – and your collection- is about pieces that mark functionality before fashion.
“Form follows function” I guess we agree with this in our buying. There is something very honest about the way clothing was made, be it a hunting jacket, a mountain parka, an early pair of motorcycle pants- the design was led by what the garment needed to be used for – everything had a practical purpose and there were no room for added frills in the design. A pared down simplicity of form.
What’s the oldest item you have and what’s the recent one?
“At the moment the oldest pieces in our collection would be European workwear from the early to mid 19th century. I find it fascinating how these pieces spawned the denim manufacturing industry in North America. The most modern pieces we have are probably first generation technical garments for climbing/mountainering from the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Why menswear was influenced heavily by military clothes?
“Military clothing of the 20th century has so dominated what we wear I find it hard to see that ever changing. Especially in menswear so many of the classic pieces that a man would have in his wardrobe without even thinking about owe their origins to a military purpose. The P coat / the trench coat/ the parka/ the chino/the combat pant/ the flying jacket the list goes on.