In today's Thursday Styles, our Critical Shopper menswear specialist Jon Caramanica is on a search for something that may not really be a thing yet: Men's High-End Vintage Clothing. He doesn't find a whole lot. Here's what we learned:
There's no menswear equivalent for the celebrated treasure troves of women's vintage fashion like Resurrection or Decades. Why is this? Probably because over the years, there has been only a tiny amount of high fashion menswear produced in comparison to women's. Additionally, a lot of it is boring. Generally, menswear, even designer menswear, is less distinctive than women's fashions, particularly in past decades. Also, more notable pieces are less translatable to contemporary style. A women's Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ensemble from the 1970s would be a prized find in a vintage shop and something to be worn with pride by a stylish woman with a few modern accessories to update it for today. A man's Saint Laurent suit from the same year would more likely be an awkwardly tailored relic. In theory, it could be a cool, vintage look, and possibly there are a few hipsters who could pull off the dated proportions, but it's a challenge —that is if you can find such a thing at all. Typically, men's styles have evolved much more slowly over the years than women's, and so men wear their clothes longer than women. They are more likely to discard something because it has been worn out —and therefore in no condition for resale— than because they have tired of the style. So, there is less turnover, and when men do get rid of stuff, it is more often headed to the trash heap than the resale store.
Still, our shopper hunts around, and rather than focusing on a single dedicated retailer, he makes a tour of vintage and resale shops ranging from the places focused on recent fashion like INA, where some of the offerings may not be priced far from their original tags, to more well known sellers like What Goes Around Comes Around. Real midcentury vintage men's apparel costs as much as or more than new designer threads at the East Village's Stock Vintage which emphasizes just how scarce it is.
So maybe our shopper is looking for something that barely exists, although if you are looking for designer menswear from recent seasons, you might have better luck searching on YOOX or even Bluefly, where discounted past merchandise can sometimes hang around long enough to almost start having vintage appeal —and it hasn't been worn before, which means it will smell a lot better when you open the package.
Critical Shopper: Where Can Men Buy Higher-End Vintage Men’s Wear? By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)