Some very exciting happenings and goings on have pushed me to buying plane tickets and travelling the long journey backwards in time to Los Angeles. Rin Tanaka, the resident genius of vintage photography and networking organized the premier vintage clothing/surf /bike culture jam in L.A. I attended last year with my first samples of jackets sharing a boot with my good friend Robert Medellin and his fledgling Ace Boot company . I had every intention of attending this year as a press member to cover the happening for my other vintage leather jacket blog, however my good friend and colleague Eric Schrader of Junkyard Jeans impressed upon me the need for a booth. So I caved and brought my Himel Brothers Jackets to Los Angeles for Inspiration 2011 and am I ever happy I did. This years show was bigger and more splendorous than last years show!
We landed in L.A and hit the ground running….straight to the rental company. It never ceases to amaze me how great customer service in the United States is especially when compared to Canada. Rental cars are practically free! After a night spent reminiscing in Culver City we got up early, jet lagged and made our way down to the Queen Mary. What a sight the ship is. Long Beach is gorgeous and the Queen Mary dwarfs the more modern cruise ships moored there. It just reeks of 1930s aesthetic right down to the visible bolts which hold the plating and skeleton of the ship together…but I digress.
I had a frenzied week leading up to the show to get some kind of display together. Realistically I was in panic mode in Toronto and did not think I could design and print a handout in time to get to L.A. and the show. I somehow pulled through with the help of my very patient co-conspirator Nancy, who was walking on eggshells with her gentle and constructive critiques of my last minute aesthetics.
As soon as we got our passes from Rin’s expert team I dropped off my giant dufflebag of jackets to our booth and immediately got my camera out. Eric embraced us all and gave my wife one of his gorgeous Japanese denim bags. It is stunningly made of old turn of the century indigo denim cloth used in Japanese workers garments and 100 year old saki bags! I think this made up for the stressy state I was in and Nance had a pleased glow now flush with a new present.
The sheer scale of the ship is jaw dropping. Over 1000 ft. long and over 81000 Tonnes the magnitude of the “Grey Ghost” is astounding. She was built to outcompete with other superlux ships, launched in 1936. The show was taking place on 3 floors of the Queen Mary in the centre of the boat. The vessel had the centre guts removed and turned into a vast convention hall complete with rickety freight elevator. I sent Nancy off to get herself breakfast and decided to look around at the “before” state of the booths, because the “after” state everybody would be busy schmoozing. It was clear some were tired, some people were jet lagged and some were having a gay old time just hanging about and greeting old friends. I wandered up the stairs and started the first floor.Â The entry way contained many of the super-displays of the local vintage fashion and culture genius’. Levis had a booth with all of there replica and sunset brand era denim, Hollywood Trading Co had a booth, and some of the coolest stuff there were old, and very very expensive vintage motorcycle displays by the likes of artist and sculptor (among other things) Jeff Decker.
For me, most of these people setting up are alien and unknown. I rarely get to attend shows or the Rosebowl living in the arctic breeze of Canada so I am a bit of a babe-in-the-woods. I took my camera and my good Canadian nature and went around and introduced myself as I figured it was the proper thing to do. Wow, some of the displays were just dope!
Nancy came back from foodification and she helped me set up our jackets in the booth. Eric and the team from Junkyardjeans outdid themselves. Our booth looked amaazing. Old medical cots had transformed a black cloth square booth into a mash tent. At the centre of the tent was an original turn of the century chain stitch machine and its operator, Fabienne gorgeous Swiss chainstitch genius. We got set up and the booth looked ace so Nance and I decided to check out our stateroom on the Queen Mary. Whoa..what a cool vintage moment. The Q.M. is a preserved bit of 1930s art deco genius. Our room had the original plumbing, burled wood laminate walls, even the original plastic and fan were still installed. It was romantic and gorgeous. After a brief respite it was back to the show for the pre-show hand shaking and pre-public deal making. Nancy and I went to see our neighbour and King of vintage Larry Heller. His booth was spectacular as always. Right beside his constructivist style sign was one of his new leather jacket projects, a beautiful 1920s Grizzly jacket made for his brand Warehouse. I immediately examined and compared his Japanese leather to my Japanese leather, his stitching and all the details. What a lovely jacket it was! Larry also brought an incredible rack of rare and inspirational leather jackets. Larry and John Gluckow(Strongarm) are two of the most knowledgeable guys out there on leather and leather collection. The first day of this show was a blazing success and it was time to bring on the party and the socializing.