A few months ago, I was contacted by the publisher of Vintage Menswear – A Collection From The Vintage Showroom asking whether we’d be interested in reviewing it, and since books on men’s clothing, let alone vintage garments, are hard to come by, I said yes! right away. Today, I will review the book and introduce you to the people who provided the garments.
The Vintage Showroom
It all began in 2007 with Roy Luckett & Douglas Gunn, two clothing enthusiasts who had the idea to create a vintage garment archive for fashion or film designers that could be used as a source of inspiration or reference for historic pieces. So the two traveled and met many interesting characters, such as passionate military collectors, who had a lot to talk about. However, most of these individuals had absolutely no interest in selling their treasures and so Luckett & Gunn had to find other garments. Ultimately, they had to genuinely become a part of this vintage collector’s world in order to realize their vision of a vintage menswear archive. Considering the current zeitgeist of companies looking to their glorious heritage, it is not a surprise that this endeavor turned out to be fruitful.
In 2009, the two opened a brick & mortar store at 14 Earlham Street, Covent Garden in London, where they now sell their vintage treasures to anyone looking for such treasures. As you can see, they have a great selection of fair isle sweaters, workwear and generally everthing that they present in the book. Not all of the pieces are for sale because some are so rare you will probably only come across them once in a lifetime.
Unfortunately, I was not aware of this shop last time I was in London, otherwise I would have stopped by for sure – better luck next time!
When I heard about the Vintage Menswear book for the first time, I was very excited because rarely do I come across books about antique men’s clothing and so the idea of having a picture book sounded quite inviting. Of course, I was picturing chapters about frock coats and morning coats, dressing gowns and evening overcoats as well as English country outfits. When I received my copy, the front cover looked quite promising: Top hat, club blazer, tweed jackets & boots left me hopeful I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
The book is printed in China but it seems to be well made – the paper is thick, the front cover features a printed cloth inlay and the layout is minimalistic and well structured. After a brief introduction you will find 3 chapters, Sports & Leisure, Military, and Workwear and finally, a useful index.
Sport & Leisure
This sections starts with some boldly striped club blazer which reminded me of the one displayed in the Ivy Style book, After a few pictures of sportscoats, a racing suit and gloves, I was surprised to find a wealth of motorcycle jackets skiing suits & smock jackets. Surely, these items are not often the subject of discussion but they are nevertheless noteworthy vintage garments. In combination with various hunting garments, fishing garments and college varsity jackets, the rare items outnumered the single, traditional Norfolk suit on display. Obviously, it was not what I expected – many classic garments were not featured – but I enjoyed it nevertheless. For my taste, I would have liked more background information instead of just a paragraph explaining the garment, but then again, it is a coffee table book dominated by pictures.
The military section starts out with some uniforms from the Royal Navy, but also includes anoraks and expedition clothing from the sixties. Instead of displaying an array of decorative dress clothes, Luckett & Gunn chose to show combat garments such as flight sutis, jump suits camouflage jackets, survival vests and parkas along with summer uniforms that are not displayed very often. Of course, they also had a trench coat but more importantly, they displayed and international array of garments from Europe, the US as well as Asia.
The third chapter is all about workwear, which we rarely discuss here on the Gentleman’s Gazette, but it is nevertheless a noteworthy part of clothing history. Here you find anything from farmer’s corduroy pants and peasant jackets over to postal uniforms and fireman jackets to uniforms of upscale department stores such as Selfridges.
Of course, there are also a few vintage denim pieces on display as well as accessories such as belts and boots, but overall you won’t find any white collar work clothes in the book.
Overall, this is not a historic reference book but much rather a collection of 130 pieces that were selected by Gunn & Luckett. The explanation of the garment is limited to a few sentences per item and is not comprehensive in any way. The focus of this book is on blue collar or task-specific garments rather than suits, which is both interesting and perfectly fine, I just don’t want you to misguided by the cover. Personally, I think this book might be a good resource for designers because it features authentic details of rare clothing pieces, and at the moment it seems like it is en vogue to advertise the history and heritage of one’s products and brands. If you are just a clothes hobbyist, this book is only good if your tastes run more towards rugged luxury streetwear style of Pendleton shirts, jeans and work boots, as opposed to more formal styles. Otherwise, you might find that you only picked the book up once, your curiosity at such eclectic items having been already satisfied.
Where to Buy the Vintage Menswear Book?
Get a glimpse at the store and get to know the authors of the Vintage Menswear book & owners of the Vintage Showroom Roy Luckett & Douglas Gunn.
Store AddressesVINTAGE SHOWROOM SHOWROOM / STUDIO
20 Buspace Studios
London, W10 5AP
email: firstname.lastname@example.org SHOP
14 Earlham Street
Seven Dials, Covent Garden
London, WC2H 9LN
tel: +44 207-836-3964
Picture Credit: Two of theses pictures are from Tweedland The Gentleman’s Club