Menswear (again), and the Beauty of the Worn

In my post of January 30, 2014, I referred briefly to a book that has some pretty wonderful photography, Vintage Menswear: A Collection from the Vintage Showroom“.  FIT has been smart enough to purchase this book which was put together by Douglas Gunn, Roy Luckett, and Josh Sims.  A friend showed it to me, and I had to share it with you, dear readers.

This is the London showroom of Vintage. Note the carefully-styled and well-used props.

The Vintage Showroom, 14 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden in London, was opened by Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett.  The two had collected vintage menswear for years, and by 2007 they needed a space to put it all.  Their specialties are military and civilian utilitarian pieces, and classic English tailoring.

What makes this book remarkable, I think, is the way the photographer, Nic Shonfeld, lavishes such loving attention on the the worn spots and functional details of each garment.  It’s the anti-glamor of utility that has made the worn nature of these garments the most sensual thing about them.

The photographer has styled these pockets to highlight their utilitarian double stitching.
The photographer has styled these pockets to highlight their utilitarian double stitching.





Many of the book’s images highlight such details.  The authors are enamored of pockets, top-stitching, special closures, flaps, and the tears of hard usage.  This book is a lovesong written to the details:  special tabs to close collars, contrasting linings, darning repairs, and the softened surface of worn canvas and leather.

Each darning was done in a different thread, creating an organic texture of built up stitches.






I decided to do some searching on the internet, and found that this company has a web site (of course they do!):


This is awesome because the blog has a lot more opportunities for the gentleman owners to show off their quirky but wonderful collection.  Like them, I am also fascinated by the details.

trench collar
The detail that’s probably missing on your inexpensive trenchcoat: the tab and buckle that close up the point collar for truly chilly weather!
This is the trenchcoat in its entirety. Note the "messenger" pocket placed diagonally across the chest for maximum speed of access.
This is the trenchcoat in its entirety. Note the “messenger” pocket placed diagonally across the chest for maximum speed of access.












The bloggers have their own “Hey, check this out” list:

Gunn and Luckett frequently post images of jackets with their collars turned up, to highlight construction details.  Some of the outerwear have this buckle that pulls the collar up, close around the wearer’s neck for warmth.  Others have felt under-collars for shaping. (Oooh, and Cary Grant!)

Many details are highlighted and there is a secondary focus on labels from more traditional garment and accessory makers, particularly the English producers.

The green waxed cotton of this Trailmaster jacket has worn in places, making it look like copper patina.
This is the same jacket inside out. The plaid is carefully matched and contains a stripe that matches the outer green.












This well-worn Belstaff “Trailmaster” jacket was once the height of motorcycle-driving fashion.  The British company that made them was famous for its performance-wear in the 1950s and ’60s. This waxed-cotton jacket was once bright green, but developed a patina as it was worn. The matching-plaid-cotton lining is carefully centered over the center-front closure.

This collegiate-jacket patch from 1949 is hand-embroidered in silk thread.


The book has another recurring feature, called “Small is Beautiful”

Apparently other people found the book lovely as well, because it won an award for its design:

FIT’s library has the second book they published, which you can find down on the 5th floor Main Stacks,  GT1710 .G85 2012 


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10 Responses to Menswear (again), and the Beauty of the Worn

  1. I love the older style mens fashion. Are these for sale?

    • Beth McMahon says:

      I am assuming that the owners of the shop in London are selling everything they find. I’m sure you can investigate by clicking through to their website. What I find more interesting is that they are driving the demand for old, worn looking utility clothing while also feeding it. I’m betting they charge a lot for these pieces.

  2. your site is really too good. and your fashion knowledge is good. i am impressed to read your contain. its help me carry my fashion.

    • Beth McMahon says:

      Thank you! Glad you are enjoying it. I am an FIT grad twice now, and the first degree was in Fashion Design. We had to learn all kinds of handsewing techniques that have gotten lost with so much machine production these days. I hope that by writing about this kind of detail work that our audience will learn more about it and keep these historical methods from getting lost.

      Do you sew or work with fashion?

  3. dani ramdani says:

    subhanallah model baju yang sangat unik dan keren :) subhanallah

  4. Sapna Joshi says:

    Great clicks but i think they must be of high cost, what you say Beth McMahon ?

    • Beth McMahon says:

      I didn’t even look at the prices, frankly. I’m assuming that their market is either people designing for films, or celebrities and other rich folk who want cool things that no one else can get. That means the prices are waaaayy out of my price range!

  5. Hervy says:

    i really like the jacket. the stripes looks nice

  6. Lukas Zweig says:

    Awesome vintage fashion. Old is gold.

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