06 February 2012
Mining The Vintage Vein - Part II
Designers are like dogs with bones. They'd much rather bury it than share it. Their holes of inspiration are all over Manhattan -- You just have to know where to look. John Gluckow of Strongarm Clothing & Supply Co. (SC&SC) is one such hole. A big hole and while John isn't hidden -- I'd say he's well camouflaged.
A lethargic elevator (I had a birthday on it) takes you to the 5th floor of 27 W 20th Street. It's one of those beautiful old buildings that most New Yorkers never look up to appreciate and the area is a target rich environment for the tourist brazen enough to ride off the Time's Square reservation. A few steps from Gramercy Tavern (Trad review here), Moore Brothers Wine (review coming) and Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace (historic NPS site of wild 1985 Ranger party), it's one of my favorite neighborhoods in the world.
Don't just show up. That would be rude. You're gonna have to call John Gluckow (917-453-3322) for an appointment. Tell him you read about SC&SC on the Trad. You don't need a lot of money but this isn't gonna be a $5 jaunt through a consignment shop. In fact, if you're anything like me, this will be a lot like standing in a whore house with your pants down and having no idea where to start. I'm not kidding. Gluckow really should provide an instruction manual.
Vintage can be hit and miss. Mostly miss. So much so, that when you find something barely passable, you tend to grab it. Never mind it doesn't fit or it's on its last legs. Here, everything you see would be gold in a typical thrift shop. John's vetted this place to the nth degree and the gold is everywhere you turn -- I kept stumbling over my trousers.
WWII and Vietnam era vintage khakis sit in a pile with striped morning suit trousers next to John Milius (a personal hero) shooting glasses, over a nickle presentation Zippo next to '60s Madras 3 button, button downs, next to a wagon wheel of ties next to...Anyway, you won't see much '70s Polly and Esther -- The bane fabric of any Trad vintage fanatic.
SC&SC is a source. What you see at Rugby, Crew & Hilfiger... it all came from here. How do I know? I haven't met a designer yet that was in the Army, Forest Service or Rodeo. This is where they come to learn and so can you.