From a distance it can be tricky to differ between marketing material and real books nowadays, especially in the field of menswear. I’ve been disappointed several times, when the courier has delivered a new book. Often photos will be technically great, and layout and print can be impressive. However, when you start reading you notice the text lacks quality, that is deep knowledge, impartiality and writings skills. The time of menswear writers like G. Bruce Boyer is vanishing, sadly.
More than a business
In that perspective the books Vintage Menswear (2012) and The Vintage Showroom (2015) could look like everything that is wrong about today’s books in menswear. The books are written by Douglas Gunn, Roy Luckett and Johs Simms, who are involved in a firm by the same name as one of the books: The Vintage Showroom. And, the books are painted with photos of products from their firm.
Interestingly, despite the purpose of promoting a business, the books are gorgeous and very inspiring. You get the impression that vintage clothing is much more than a business to Gunn, Luckett and Simms. The books contain photos of numerous garments from The Vintage Showroom’s collection. Almost all garments have been put on display very well, and the photo shooting is excellent too. Most importingly, the curated garments are stellar pieces, which give the reader specific insights into the history of menswear, and ideas about dressing with style. Moreover, the photos add up in story about fashion forces. For instance, reading the books you realize just how much military wear, sportswear and workwear have influenced daily menswear in the 20th Century.
I would have enjoyed more in-depth texts about many of the depicted garments, and the books only have very little about footwear. I also think that the first book from 2012 appears slightly better in terms of layout and the uniqueness of particular garments. That said, the books are two of the very best books about classic menswear, which I’ve read for years.
Snapshots from Vintage Menswear and The Vintage Showroom
Below some snapshorts from the books, which together have more than 600 large pages with photographed unique and iconic garments.
Hunter S. Thompson not satisfied
About the parka above Vintage Menswear notes:
“The writer Hunter S. Thompson was not impressed with goods from the Alaska Sleeping Bag Company, of Portland, Oregon. He wrote to the company requesting a refund for a hunting coat he had bought for $24.95 in the 1950s. His complaint was with what the catalogue had described as the ‘leather-lined’ pockets and ‘leather shoulder-patches’.
`If the garbage on this coat is leather,’ he wrote, ‘I’ll eat it.’
The jacket was, he added, simply not up to the standard he had come to expect from the likes of L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer, other brands he regularly bought from. In fact, the week before he had returned an ‘Everest Down Parka’ to the Alaska Sleeping Bag Company, one just like this one.
`I suggest,’ he added, ‘that you’ll be more careful about the wording of your catalogue.’
A second edition of the catalogue deleted the offending reference to ‘leather’.
But the coat is not as poor as Thompson’s sharp missive might suggest – with a goose-down filling and a wolverine fur trim hood, it would have been exceptionally warm […]”
You’ll find hundreds of more photos of exquisite vintage garments in the books Vintage Menswear (2012) and The Vintage Showroom (2015) by Douglas Gunn, Roy Luckett and Johs Simms from The Vintage Showroom. I found the books on Amazon.
Photos: Sartorial Notes (photographing pages from Vintage Menswear and The Vintage Showroom)