Inspiration Los Angeles: Leaving and Arrivals

I am always striving to document my leather jacket project down to the last detail.  Sometimes it seems absurd to share as many moments as I do.  I think about why I try to blog about my brand and the answer I come up with is to share the experience of building my company from the ground up.  Each move, each meeting is like a piece on a chessboard.  I am learning as I go.  After attending Rin Tanaka’s Inspiration Show for two years running I was considering not making it down this year.  I was thinking that way until I received a call that a very exciting new Japanese magazine was going to feature a story on my new brand in  the centerfold.  The magazine was launching its promotional edition on the Queen Mary for the Inspiration show.  I couldn’t miss it!  As soon as the news was out I received phone calls from my old friends in vintage, customers and my new friends in fashion all asking me if I was coming down. Well that sealed the deal.  Pack the bags and time to get some sun.  I had to assemble all the new jackets that I had been working on, and come up with some emergency printed material.  Luckily I had been working on catalogs and hang tags in the evenings leading up to the event so  with some last minute tweaks it was off to the printers.

Nancy and I hauled ourselves onto a flight to L.A.  Well lucky me we found a direct flight, unlucky me some guy coughing with the flu in the seat behind me infected me and yet again I was going to spend my first 4 days in sunshine feeling like a corpse.  Never mind that…there is nothing like the lights of Las Vegas to signal the approach into LAX.  Unplug the headphones and prepare for rentals and warmth I say!  First order of duty check into the Beverly Laurel hotel.  One of the few hotels that Nancy will let me stay at.  Second call straight to Canters for a late night tongue sandwich!  We got up early, down to the iconic Swingers restaurant and off to check out the best stores in Los Angeles.  I will write about those stores on my other blog The Art of Vintage Leather Jackets…but lets just say I saw some old friends like Christophe and met some new friends like Davide and Blair!  L.A. is a wild place on wheels!

 


Inspiration 2011: Los Angeles’ Premier Vintage Show and Himel Brothers

 

 

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.  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.

 

[slideshow post_id=”97″]