Made to be vintage

Vintage doesn’t mean old. It describes something from the past, of high quality that represents the best of its kind. Like fine wines and great jackets.

We were at Rag Parade in Sheffield recently. It’s a specialist vintage menswear store run by Jojo. Ed caught up with him to have a chat.

We have the aspiration for HebTroCo clothes to be considered as vintage, but ultimately that’s for you and the people after you to decide.

When I was a kid I loved getting dressed up in my grandad’s trilby and suit. I poured over old family photos and wished that the uniforms from the wars, the wedding suits and workwear were mine. If only that fantastic despatch rider’s coat that my dad was wearing in a photo of him on a Royal Enfield was still around. 

Clothes were generally rugged back then, people had less of them and the good ones were made to last.

Later on I inherited a lovely British made Grenfell Shooter jacket in a sage green gaberdine cloth. I wore it until the cloth faded and wore through in places. Where is it now?

You’ve probably got similar stories. 

The memories leave a deep impression and push you to search for clothes with that same quality and sense of style. I end up digging through the vintage shops, looking for something that excites, with the suggestion of lives lived and stories yet to unfold. It’s an inspiration.

When we started HebTroCo we were drawn to making proper moleskin trousers, because we’d had them when we were kids, but you didn’t seem to be able to find stuff like that anymore.

The factory that we found made trousers like they used to be made, in natural materials, finished on the inside as well as they were on the outside. We could see the quality and felt that elements of what was great in the past could be relevant today in functional, stylish menswear. It’s the same with good quality jeans versus the rubbish mass market versions, and proper woollen knitwear that puts cheap synthetic alternatives to shame.

Vic and I went down to Sheffield this week to visit JoJo’s shop, Rag Parade. We went to buy clothes to inspire our designs, to dig deep into JoJo’s knowledge and to have a laugh telling stories about people, places and good old shit.

I asked JoJo what qualities a garment has to have in order to find a place in his shop. He said that the most important thing is the fabric. Good material will last and still look good when old and worn. Style will always be stylish.

Good design is something that you can love and appreciate regardless of the year it was made.

He reminded us that not everything old is good, in the same way that not everything British-made is well made. Take the time to know your stuff, where it’s from and how and why was it made.

So what did we bring home from our trip to Sheffield? Some Italian and British military clothing, some Japanese workwear, a very nice overcoat and a whippet shoe horn. It’s now all hanging up in our unit around the cutting table and we’ll soon begin the process of going through all the details and deciding which bits to use.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be launching a denim jacket, a hunting style jacket, a woollen smock and an overshirt. All these garments have details pulled from our existing archive of vintage menswear. We’ve changed the shape and the fit, we’ve added more functional details, modernised here and there, chosen a different cloth. You’ll still see some pocket detail, a type of stitch and a hint of style from the originals.

Bet you can’t wait for the shoe horn.

~ Ed

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