When it comes to collecting vintage clothing from the United States the Japanese buyers have been paving the path for nearly 30 years. Since the eighties Japanese vintage collectors have been traveling across the United States hitting up thrift stores, vintage stores, clothing flea markets and just about anywhere they could find old vintage jeans, leather jackets, sneakers or t-shirts.
As the vintage clothing culture became more popular in Japan and the demand grew collectors began to find new ways to locate more product. Because each vintage piece is essentially a one-off it is difficult to determine the actual size and fit without trying it on. One problem the collectors had was finding vintage pieces that were not only the correct size but the way the garment fit had to be perfect as well. To overcome this obstacle they hired hip Japanese boys and girls that were the perfect body shape to match the sizes that they were looking for.
If you were young Japanese boy or girl size 30L 30W, 29L 30W or 32L 30W, you just might land a gig all expense paid buy trip to the US. You could get a budget up to 10 thousand dollars to spend on product and expenses.
Scores of young hip Japanese kids traveled across the United States in rental vans finding jeans, sneakers, t-shirts and jackets that were in there size and fit. They would show up to flea markets before they opened, often renting a stall for the sole purpose of shopping what the other vendors had before the public arrived.
If you were selling vintage clothing in the 90’s you were mainly into the business to source vintage Levis for some of these young Japanese buyers. The vintage culture in Japan was in full motion and the young Japanese fashionistas were obsessed with vintage American culture. Everything from American rockabilly, vintage surf, motocross, punk, 70’s skateboarding, 80’s sneakers was being snatched up whenever they could get there hands on it.
Meanwhile in the United States there was hardly a demand for vintage clothing except among theater students and fashion designers. It wasn’t until the young Japanese buyers came to the US looking for their select pieces that the vintage market in the US began to take root. The vintage clothing store became an outlet for these buyers to source more clothing in a select space. Instead of going through a never ending amount of racks at a thrift store looking for one or two good pieces, the buyers could now hit up a vintage clothing store and spend a couple of thousand dollars on a few hundred pieces in one stop.
Some shop owners got rid of the brick and mortar all together and just focused on setting up a warehouse or storage unit to show buyers their collection when they came to town. Flea Markets or swap meets dedicated to antique goods, esp. clothing started to become meeting places for American collectors and Japanese Buyers. Japanese buyers would scour their collections with flashlights on their heads before the collector had time to take it out of their trailer or trunk.
Soon old American clothing, used clothing, the stuff Rag houses labeled trecera or trash, was beginning to create a demand and industry of its very own.
Select old Levis were selling for over 1 thousand a pair retail in vintage shops in Tokyo, the average pairs of Levis were selling for up to 2 hundred a piece. It was a good market to be in and everyone seemed to be happy from the vintage collector in the US, the young Japanese buyer, to the collector and shop owner in Japan. The main force guiding the new market and helping it evolve was the Japanese shop owners who were funding it.
It seemed to be a lucrative market for everyone that was involved until one day the bottom fell out. One morning in late April a ship pulled into a port in Japan carrying a container with items that had never hit the Japanese seaboard in this much quantity before. The container was full of vintage Levis size 28-32 all folded and ready to hit the retail market.
Instantly the Japanese market was flooded and overnight the wholesale price of Levis dropped from $35 a pair to $6 a pair, often less than the collector had invested into them. Some collectors had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into Levis that they were saving for their Japanese buyers. Each collector took a hit and needed to find a way to replenish their losses. The demand didn’t end, but it changed, and as the dust began to settle from the fall out a new customer began to take notice of cool old things, and they would soon be a force to be reckoned with.
The time was the mid nineties, DJ’s were getting big, raves were in full swing and American fashion and culture had taken a turn towards more urban, loose fitting garments. If you didn’t go with the flow you were labeled alternative or independent (indy), and soon a huge alternative market began to take form.
Young kids and college student across the Untied States began listening to their alternative music, watching their alternative films and wearing their alternative clothes that just happen to be what the Japanese kids were into five years earlier. Bands like Nirvana and Tripping Daisey, made vintage clothing cool and alternative while films like Pulp Fiction and American Graffiti made it hardcore and independent. American collectors started putting their collections in vintage clothing stores where the new alternative American kids could find outfits to match their attitude.
One of the Japanese collectors that was there as the industry grew and changed is Rin Takan.
For the past 15 years Rin has put out a number of books in his My Freedamn series photographing collections and select pieces that helped turn the industry into what it is today.
Rin uses the knowledge he has gained from his years of collecting to put out an informative, artistic and creative coffee table books packed with images and story’s of why each style was unique and cool in it’s own way.
The My Freedamn series of books are not only great to look at but they are also a educational tool for anyone interested in vintage clothing and the vintage culture.
Rin Takan’s latest release Schott NYC 100 Years of An American Original features an amazing collection of leather jackets and outerwear put out by clothing manufacture Schott NYC.
To find out more about Rin Takan and My Freedamn check out http://myfreedamn.com
At Dust Factory Vintage Clothing we always look forward to new to new seasons fashion collections, this coming Autumn/Winter 2011 is no exception.
Our favorite go to choice for fabrics is Recycled Textiles, however our favorite natural fiber of the season is organic wool. But as EcoSalon’s Amy DuFault points out (via Ecco Eco), there are both “environmental and ethical complexities of this natural fiber we so adore.
Last year O-Wool, the leading certified-organic wool at the time, was beginning to fold due to financial reasons. Since then, Tooney Wool Company in Philadelphia, PA, has become the new big dog and owner and distributor of certified-organic-yarns. Whose past clientele list is rather impressive with brands like Patagonia, Timberland, J.Crew, Linda Loudermilk, Diane von Furstenberg, Loomstate, Bahar Shahpar, and Bodkin.
Tree Hugger has great sideshow presentation with Tom’s of Maine Founder showing you how to Produce Ethical Wool undergarments. Check Here to View!
In an interview with EcoSalon, Jocelyn Tunney, of Tunney Wool Company, says “One would want to purchase organic wool for the same reasons as one would want to purchase organic food.” She continues, below.
It’s a more sustainable farming solution, is kinder to the animals and is healthier for the consumer. Conventional wool is grown like conventional food – the land and sheep are sprayed and dipped in pesticides as a cheap means to increase salable product. The land [certified-]organic wool comes from has to go through the same transition and certification process as the land organic food comes from.”
Let’s not forget when it comes to purchasing wool products the most ecological wool is the the stuff you already have hanging in your closet, recycled wool or what you find at a vintage clothing store or thrift shop is close second. However when you don’t have either of these options you should make sure that you are purchasing certified-organic and mulesing-free wool.
Ok it is that time of year again, or that time when fashion completes a cycle and boots are back in style. Well the truth of the matter is that they have been back in style for a while, and now not only are hipster little girls rocking the motorcycle boots and the Doc Martins over their skinny jeans or leggings, but their Prada tote bag carrying mothers are rocking the western boots and fashion boots as well. With so many different types of boots and different styles to wear them with the questions has to be raised, “Is there a wrong way to wear boots?” Well the answer to this questions lies in the mind of the beholder, the simple answer is… perhaps? However the correct answer will depend upon what perspective you take towards the question. One could just as easily as asked, “Is there a right way to wear boots,” or “how do you wear motorcycle boots with an outfit,” taking this into consideration, if there is a right way to wear boots, or directions on how to wear boots, then the obvious answer is, yes, there is wrong way to wear to boots.
The correct way, or another way to put that would be to say, one way to wear boots is to make sure the pants or leggings that you are wearing are tight fitting so that you can tuck them into the boot. Let’s face it, we are not trying to look like June Carter Cash or a Cowgirl right off of the rodeo circuit, we are not going to wear these boots with boot-cut jeans and a large belt buckle, these are to be worn with something tight and dare I say a little revealing. Up top you can wear a over sized shirt to cover up your ASS-ets if need be, or tight little blouse to let is all show. The wrong way to do this would be to wear your pants over the boot, or wear something to revealing that does not work with your body.
If you think that skinny jeans are for toddler teenie-boppers and those leggings are just to 1990, then try wearing your boots with a fashionable skirt or mini dress.
The people over at Ecoterre asked the question, “How cool would it be to be able to construct and reconstruct your clothing everyday according to your mood just like legos?” Refinityâ€™s Fragmentedclothing lets you do just that with their colorful and customizable snap-on pieces that let you decide how long, short, wide or thin your outfit should be “ no sewing necessary! Besides being totally cool, the concept is definitely one that is taking center stage in the eco-fashion realm because it reduces textile waste and allows people to easily remodel their clothes instead of throwing them away.
Designers Fioen van Balgooi and Berber Soepboer created their Fragmented Textiles collection as an experiment in applying cradle-to-cradle
principles to clothing production, use, and disposal. Made from Cradle to Cradle-certified wool felt in a range of vibrant colors, the FragmentedTextiles are based on jigsaw-puzzle-like zero-waste
patterns that are designed to use every last scrap of cloth.
Fragmented Textiles was recently on display at the Beyond Green, Good Design symposium gallery at the World Fashion Centre in Amsterdam. Curated by Ingrid Horsselenberg and Annouk Post of I&A, the exhibit was furtherevidence that the Dutch are definitely the ones to watch when it comes to combining fashion-forward design and playful attitudes.
This is taking what recycling designers are doing over at Particle Clothing to a whole new recycled level of how clothing can be reconstructed and refurbished into new outfits.
Common Threads Garment Recycling
Way too much of what is made these days ends up in the trash at the end of its useful life.
At Patagonia, they’re working to change that. In 2005 they launched their Common Threads Garment Recycling Program, through which customers could return their worn out CapileneÂ® Performance Baselayers to them for recycling. They’ve now added Patagonia fleece, PolartecÂ® fleece from other manufacturers and Patagonia organic cotton T-shirts to their list of recyclables.
Their long-term goal is to take environmental responsibility for everything they make.
Please help them by changing your clothes for good.
Find out how you can participate in our garment-recycling program; see how they turn worn-out clothes into new Patagonia garments; and read the Frequently Asked Questions. Patagonia