The Internet is already a-twitter with rhapsodic ravings on the matter, and there are, no doubt, more still to come. So in the interest of democracy, I will speak in the voice of dissent: Pop Up Flea just wasn't "all that" ( as the kids were saying when I was still a kid). I didn't snap a single photo, because, frankly, we've seen everything they had on offer over and over ad nauseam for at least a year now. You know the scene by now: overpriced boutique-issue "heritage Americana"...read, replications of poor peoples clothes at rich peoples prices.
I get it, but I don't. Sure, there's beauty to be found in a well made piece of hard wearing, rugged clothing, but something about "designers" trying to sell me a wool flannel shirt for hundreds of dollars in a "trim cut" just rubs me the wrong way. How can you call this "design"? These things have existed for a century. Perfect replication at a high ticket is not design...its a marketing and p.r. game....which should come as no surprise, since the vast majority of the "too cool for school" hipster NYC blog clique has clearly been acting as a p.r. firm for the brands that produce this stuff since at least mid-Summer.
Every table at the thing had the same "look", which generally consisted of:
-gourmet work boots
-gourmet wool flannel
-gourmet raw denim jeans
-gourmet "tool bags" (?) (My friend Pasquale, a stylish gent and carpenter by trade, was particularly infuriated by a display of a natural canvas bag with leather fittings full of hammers, a tape measure, nails, etc...as though any of these high rise office kids would actually carry tools in the thing, let alone build anything with them.)
-gourmet frontier leather goods.....if I want gourmet leather, it's Gucci all the way, or something.
-gourmet old fashioned pencils (seriously ?)
Everything came in gingham check...Gitman Brothers was selling gourmet oxfords for $185, but they came sized S,M, L. For that kind of scratch, can I please have a neck size and sleeve length (!)
We were there for about a half an hour, before we had figured out what was up and left in mild disgust. Not for nothing, but where I come from, this ain't what we calla "Flea Market". Maybe I don't "get it". Cripes, J. Crew had a table...
My other old buddy, who lives in Brooklyn, made an especially good point. To para-phrase: "this is just the new Fall line of a bunch of places within a three block radius of here...at full retail. Whats the point?"
But, I had a great time visiting some very old and dear friends. I ate well, bought some killing jams at Bleecker Street Records,(look for an installment of "the jams"coming soon), and drank a bunch. Don't take me for all sour grapes, because I really had a great time. The only bump in the road was the 1/2 hour we wasted at Pop Up Flea.
The Great and Powerful Voice of Dissent Has Spoken.
HA, I was preparing a similar post. Yeah the pop up flea was a wash. I wouldn't have been as frustrated if it would've been called "The Pop Up Curated Americana Market" it was anything but "flea"
In fact the last time I was at a flea market I got some great tie-clips and an old original pic of the kennedys for 30 bucks. That's a flea market.
Brave and daring of you to share your thoughts, even better with eloquence and insight. I've actually been curious to see what you thought of the whole production.
Honest evaluation is beautiful. I recently checked out a "give-away" on a blog for $100 gift certificate to be applied to a pair of boots. The boots ranged in price from $250-$600. Give me a break.
I was wondering what the markup was at the Pop up Flea. Especially after seeing that J. Crew was on the list. Thank you for shedding light on this sham, despite the rest of the blogging world's attempt to sweep it under the rug.
I too share your revulsion at paying $200 for a shirt sized (L), which won't fit my gangly arms, and which offers nothing except a stale version of tried and true classics. Basically you pay for a name - hasn't this been what NYC dwellers have been doing for decades? I'd rather wear a company like Lands End instead of something from these new "innovators." At least with Lands End I know I'm paying the right price for the cloth, a traditional design, and something that will fall apart in a few years. I can almost guarantee that the new "designer's" shirts will fall apart in the same amount of time.
And despite my fondness for gingham ... I cannot wear the pattern right now because it has been beaten into the ground here in DC.
Thank you for your cognizable and commendable dissenting opinion.
A Faithful Reader
Bravo! No XL shirt for $185? I guess they only make them for thin or small guys that want to pretend they have ever lifted a hammer. I am not inspired by these overpriced knock-offs. However, I have found inspiration from your site to stop paying $80 for a shirt. Keep up the great work!
Glad to hear someone else thinks the same way- this whole trend is very Emperor's New Clothes-
a $1500.00 version of a $100.00 wool coat is not 15 times better. Even old time purveyors like Filson are getting in on the act.
I'll stick to real thrift stores and good ole Ebay for now...
The emperor is very proud of his new workwear.
What's the next trend for these shills?
Amen to that brother. I live in NYC and I went to the first pop up flea but I didn't bother with this one. If I want a wool shirt or jacket there are a lot cheaper ways of getting one. All my Pendleton comes from Grandpa and thrift stores. And I've never had a problem getting an oxford button down. If I wanted to spend hundreds of dollars on a shirt I would get one custom made. I'll be glad when the skinny jean lumberjacks move on.
Well said. I was there, too, and I agree. My take on urban duck-hunting chic comes down to this: If I'm going to pay $200 for a shirt, I want to look like Jack Kennedy, not an effete Grizzly Adams.
Thank you, sir, for putting this out there. I appreciate the "workwear" look going on right now, but every time I see the matching price tag I nearly fall over. The men where I grew up (the sticks) pulled off the real poor man's version of this look for years--sans vintage leather $500 briefcase of course.
Your ability to ignore witless decadence in the name of "style" is what keeps me coming to your blog. You, sir, have got the goods and the common sense to go match. I applaud you for this post and the fact that this post represents your intellect, individuality and values--the kind that do not carry an exorbitant price tag.
Thanks for confirming my suspicions.
Your honesty is only one of the characteristics that make your blog what it is.
This is the most refreshing and sensible thing I've read about traditional clothes on the internet in months and month and months.
Giuseppe for President!
Thanks for the candid feedback on the event.
G: On reading "You know the scene by now: overpriced boutique-issue "heritage Americana"...read, replications of poor people's clothes at rich peoples prices...", the words "nail", "head", "have", "hit", "you", "on" and "the"(times 2)sprang to my mind in a slightly different order. Well said!
Thanks for being honest. That's all I can ask for as a reader. I don't feel so bad for not making the trip now. Hooray!
Although I have not been to the PUF, I believe your assessment is right on with all the hype surrounding the latest fashion craze. Hell, you can go to the manufacturers websites and buy the goods cheaper than these "boutiques" are shelling them for.
"overpriced boutique-issue "heritage Americana"...read, replications of poor people's clothes at rich peoples prices."
Somebody finally said it. Thank you.
I had a suspicion it was going to be quite similar to how you described. I'll be interested to see the reaction you get.
What you should have done was to pick out the things you'll want in a year....when "fashion" has changed and all those items are at the real flea market. It would have been interesting to see you snap some pictures and say "retail $_____" followed by the Giuseppe price.
I couldn't agree more with you on this point. I saw photos of this most recent "flea" on some of the "trad hipster" blogs and it just looked like a thinly veiled marketing beast. ACL has opened a shop on his blog. When will we see the AAW shop? I could tell from the few photos that it was basically a trade show for ACL's "aesthetic." It chaps my ass when these guys use the lexicon of fine art to sell workwear. Was the flea well "curated"?
I see this as kind of a metaphor for NYC as a whole. A high-end retail event posing as a "flea market." "Gastro-pubs" posing as dive bars. Luxurious boutique hotels posing as flop houses. At least in Manhattan. Brooklyn still has the real deal. Thanks for the recon. I shall avoid the next flea.
I think you nailed this on the money...I enjoy your blog and your sound, grounded outlook. Please continue, your west coast fan club.
vashonflyfishers at hot mail dot com
You are right. One of the organizer now sells merchandise from his blog and I will not pay over 300.00 for a canvas bag. It is classless. These are single men with extra income to spend on nonsense.
They get their inspiration from the classics (LL BEAN, Woolrich ...etc.)Go to an army navy store.
Believe it or not I am very happy to see what the GAP is doing. High quality Selvedge Jeans that are affordable and can fit everybody. They also have trim flannel shirts that are not over priced.
I couldn't agree more my Italian friend...It was nothing but a workwear blogger circle jerk.
I had a feeling something like this post was coming. I have to admit I cringed a little when I saw the 2 previous posts, thinking, "Ooh, G. isn't going to like what he sees at the PUF. Why is he going?" I take it you have a lot of leftovers of your cool business card.
I live in Southern California, so I had no hope of getting to the Pop Up, but whenever I go into boutiques or J. Crew or even Bloomingdales, and see some nice looking Americana/Traditional/workwear clothing, I always sigh when I look at the price tag and where it's made. I lament to my wife that I have a bunch of shoes that I purchased throughout the 90s that are Italian made, rubber-soled and all originally retailed for under $160 from J. Crew or Barneys. Decent quality at a (relatively) decent price--I got each on sale. I can't find shoes like that anymore. Now similar shoes are made in Asia or Latin America. And J Crew is advertising Italian made dress shoes in their latest catalog for around $300--to bad they're so dowdy looking.
Anyway, enough ranting.
Thanks for your review. I had my doubts about the "flea" part of this whole event.
If I want honest work-wear I'll buy where honest workman shop.
To make matters worse, all the blogs are in full congratulatory mode.
Allplaidout.com applauded Mister Mort's 'Fuck You' ties, and gigantic pre-tied velvet bow-ties, Rogue Gallery's $65 'Do it Yourself' screen-printed t-shirts (They print them right there, at the 'Flea'!).
Marketing, branding and retail lies makes fools out of those who don't know better and buy into it all. I work at Gap, and worked at Anthropologie. I have seen many examples of this.
where's the vitriol? You promised vitriol!
First time I've commented. Been reading you for a while. Thanks for being so consistently good.
whie i agree with all that you said, i approached it very differently. i'm a student and went with very little money, not expecting to buy much. i got a deal on a wallet when i offered a shot of whiskey, and bought those very cool vermillion and blue japanese pencils from hickoree's. most importantly, i went with my vintage american clothing that i got from my parents, vintage americans. the sense of irony that i got from people shopping did make me sick, but everyone behind the booths was genuine and fascinating. i met a lot of people and had great conversations about clothes/everything, and left appreciating that people still care about things.
Cosigned and linked, hate all of this, infinite suns, etc. etc.
This made me happy to read. I'm growing increasingly tired of ACL and similar blogs that push the overpriced workwear/Americana trend like crazy. Good stuff!
I found some bargains. In a small little room off the beaten path of hipsters in the main arena of overpriced plaid and selvedge, there was amassblog.com selling Camara magazines from the 50's for $5, old metal cigar boxes turned into hunter green filing cabinets 30 years ago for $10 and 40's ledger books for $10. That's a flea market.
Back in the main room there was one vendor who was selling navy Gloverall duffle coats with hemp and wood toggles for $450. Not bad when RL is selling a navy duffle made in China for $1,400.
It was much better than last year where vendors had some major attitude. Knowing what last year was like, I did not go expecting to find Andover button downs for $2. Too bad we didn't get a chance to meet.
Giuseppe,I do believe you have struck a cord!
Already 31 responses this morning.
Based on the comments here, it doesn't look like you've ruffled too many feathers. Glad someone finally said it as I had begun to think that I was the only one who found the prices of all of that stuff to be outrageous.
tintin - lets talk apples to apples here. I'm not sure what RL toggle you are speaking of but if it has a $1400 ticket on it you better believe that the fabric is a double faced cashmere blend or similar with a $65/yard price tag, real horn toggles, etc. I'm sure the gloverall one looks great and may have nice trims but there is no way its raw goods can come close to comparing with Polo. From an overseas manufacturing standpoint I will say this: I've seen Rugby tailored goods from America & Asia and honestly, the Asian stuff is made better. I'm all for American manufacturing but we need to step our game up (and lower the costs of domestic manufacturing) if we are ever going to get that business back.
Good post. I was there and agree with your asessment. I left after 5minutes.
sorry it was a let down. i thought about stopping by, but ran out of time.
I liked almost everything the POF had to offer - but I didn't buy anything.
I had a great time checking out the clothes and getting ideas for my next thrift store run. I was given free beer, and enjoyed some interesting conversation.
To say you "wasted" 30 minutes at the POF is a little dramatic, if you ask me. There was good to be found there, just like anywhere else.
I get your point, but it seems hard to believe you can't enjoy the clothes and the spirit of the look from a purely aesthetic standpoint.
Read here for more criticism: http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=150595
Thank you Giuseppe - this was fantastic.
I was very interested in seeing the offerings as I didn't make it the first time around. I walked in on Sunday, passed by every booth, and walked right out.
I saw the stuff Tin Tin mentioned, and it definitely was cool and more "flea market" than $185 s/m/l Gitman shirts.
Thanks for the report. I love how you use the word gourmet when referring to the wares on offer. It's the perfect descriptor in this case.
40 comments so far...Is this AAW's most commented on post to date?
Great post. Thanks!
The ACL guy comes across as a major d-bag in that SF thread.
You've obviously struck a chord judging by the amount of responses!
I will say one thing, I've lamented many fashion blogs for being, as you say, PR firms for the overpriced wares.
I'm tired of some designer coming up and re-doing red wings or chukkas for the 90th time. Some of the collaborations are innovative but how many different times can you remake the same garment?
In my opinion, they probably aren't doing anything the original manufacturer wouldn't have come up with eventually anyway.
A lot of the hipsters in my area wear these underground name brands and I've seen the quality, it's in shambles. Horrendous stitching, thin material, it's barely there.
All the more reason for us to stick to the thrifts, hopefully we can convince more to follow us and eventually force the big guys back to their senses.
Dave Barry did a great takeoff years ago about a noted "Americana" designer's "outdoor" line (no names, please).
He said the model looked like he was "going to get on Ol' Paint and head down to the tradin' post for a heap o' styling gel"
Reminds me of the sales clerk overheard at a "designer outdoor" section of a dept. store: "Now if you were really going to go outside, you wouldn't want to do it in this parka"
$350 birdhunters? Can't you say "Cabela's"? Sure you can!
May I criticize the criticism?
I find many similar faults in some of this pop-up flea, workwear stuff, and have posted them here among other places.
Especially in the way it's become so fashionable and trendy.
I do enjoy khakis, jeans, chambray, boots etc. Though I buy almost all at thrifts.
I also work as a carpenter/furniture maker (I was considering one of those Klein tool bags a while back, to carry my on-site/install tools in, before I saw a trendy int. designer using one as a briefcase.)
I guess my problems with your problems are:
1)The "if I wanted to spend $___ on clothing I'd buy a [equilivelent piece of more formal clothing] argument.
2) The moaning about the prices.
in regards to the first, I get it, but it strikes me as a bit snobby, anti-casual clothing, and a bit "A Suitable Wardrobe".
I like m suits and sportcoats, but I can't wear them everywhere, sometimes they draw too much attention, other times they're inappropriate, and most of the time I'm working and they'd be ruined.
There's nothing wrong with good casual clothes.
As to #2, well made, good stuff costs more, the fact that much of this pop-up-flea stuff is a bit silly doesn't change that.
If you (G) were buying the stuff you wear new, you'd be paying a lot too. No one would read a style blog of Walmart ties, shoes and shirts.
I get the idea, I'm broke and buy thrift clothing too, but there is something to be said for properly made stuff.
I can't even buy decent wood for a table for what Ikea charges for a dining set, but I know that what I make will be better, and not end up in a dumster in 6 months.
If I had the money I'd gladly support some of these companies by buying a USA-made flannel shirt, or jeans.
Though I'd try not to look like I was dressing as affected, or fake as some of these folk.
I think the lesson to take from all this is if you are going to be buying overpriced Americana you should at least be buying it from Japan!
Looks like I really spoke with the voice of the people on this one. Thanks one and all for the comments. Looks like my own response will require a separate post.
This is what I always wanted this blog to be: a conversation starter. I thank you one and all for using it this way today.
I don't disagree with your assessment or feedback. But, in a day and age when Carhartts are being outsourced to sweat shops in Asian and Latin American countries to remain competitive, pricing should not necessarily be the main talking point.
Is that Pasquale who hangs out at Puck Fair a lot and is slightly crazy?
Thanks, Giuseppe. I've always heard about that Pop-up Flea market, and I've alwas had the suspect that "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark". Senza offesa, Pop-up Flea.
Enzo, Sorry for the delay but have been traveling. The RL duffle I saw was listed at $1,395 and it was not cashmere. A type of wool with an odd looking partial liner on sale at Bloomingdales for $695.
I'm not really interested in buying a Chinese made duffle coat costing 3x what the authentic version runs new. Not to mention what a little energy might reveal if one were to pursue ebay U.K.
Giuseppe - Thank you for calling these guys out. The hipster Trad fad is a complete joke.
The fact that these shills promote this event as a "flea market" is beyond comprehension. It's the worst kind of duplicitous marketing and only serves to discredit those of of us who spend time and effort to cultivate a wardrobe grounded in authentic traditional classics.
People who subscribe to spending 200 bucks for an oxford or 600 bucks for a pair of "work boots" made from inferior materials are simply lazy poseurs with money to spend. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind spending a hefty sum on a well made garment that will last a good number of years, but that is hardly what is on offer at the PUF. Hopefully said poseurs will jump on the next hipster fashion bandwagon come spring and leave the classics to those of us who value quality craftsmanship over the name on the label.
Finally, an individually, well crafted opinion. Koodos to you for thinking independently - quite refreshing. It is good to hear someone add a dash of real world practicallity onlong side of well-deserved praise. At some point you have to say, yes this slim fit flannel is cool, however at $200 you designers need to put yourself into the shoes of ordinary people who make a fair wage. Long live dissent! It makes the world go round.
I love clothes but when you're 39, have a mortgage and two kids you realize how completely obnoxious it is to spend $280 dollars on a pair of "new vintage" army cargo pants.
RE: Higher prices of American-made goods:
It's because America is a First World country with a First World cost of living. We can't compete with Third World labor costs, which are far, far below our poverty level.
Free trade has run amok. On the positive side, the current free trade regime has added to many companies' bottom lines; it has also made it possible for consumers to buy poorly-manufactured goods at ultra-low prices. On the negative side, it has destroyed our manufacturing base. As a result of our manufacturing base being gutted, it is harder and harder for a working-class/blue-collar worker to make a decent living, much less to buy a house and support a family. With more and more people unable to earn a decent wage, they must abandon their hopes of home ownership, or living in vast swathes of the country (both coasts, basically), or of having more than one or two children (if that). Free trade has widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and is unhealthy for our republic.
So what to do?
The American market is so huge that companies could make a decent profit just from their domestic business--there's no need to worry about exporting to, or importing from, foreign countries. This is, after all, how things were in the past. Free trade has come at too high a cost. We should resurrect many of our trade barriers so that the American worker is protected. Yes, costs of good will rise--but so will quality, and our ability to afford them.
I disagree with your claim that these items are poor people clothes. I cannot walk into most department stores, and find well made, tailored, updated patterns. While I appreciate your skepticism about our purchases, I feel these companies are doing us a service of offering items that I cannot get elsewhere. Certainly, the tool bag example is a bit ridiculous, but what marketing fantasy isn't?
I really found this post thread to be interesting. I decided to post (late, yes) because - as a vendor, I wanted to touch on something. We make ties. We sell them for less than $100. It is truly ridiculous how some mark up to $115 for a bowtie. I can tell you that to be made in USA it costs a helluva lot more than China but we are sticking to our pricing. We are only going over $100 if we have a very expensive fabric style, probably one per season... all other ties will be under $100. Why get greedy? Here's the rub: I am concerned that because we are under $100, and a new company, folks will immediately assume we are not a luxury fabric tie-maker. Our products are made in the Garment District by an expert manufacturer who does many other larger brands. We just choose to make ours more affordable. It's a tough call because some folks are immediately thought of as luxury because their shoes are $450 or their tie is $125. Isn't it time to make Made in USA + luxury more affordable?
Wow...people actually read this blog?
You guys have waaaaay too much time on your hands. Girlfriends fellows, they come in all shapes and sizes. That should be the goal this month.
I love your site because you encourage discussion. The following is a comment I left on ACL that he took down after he talked trash:
I went to both of the Pop Up Flea markets and I have to say that I was disappointed with this years. First of all, it wasn’t really a flea market. It was like a sample sale full of brand new full price items. There were only 3 booths with a full vintage range. The rest of the booths carried a lot, not all, but a lot of stuff you can get at stores for the same price. The thing that gets me the most is that this “Americana” fashion resurgence has turned into a scene. Much like the streetwear scene and events that surround it, it was sad to see guys look you up and down to check out what kind of gear you had on either to snicker because you werent wearing the right model of Red Wings or come up to ask you what you were wearing and where you got it. And just like streetwear, its run by a bunch people that found something they can call their own and make them “COOL.” When all this time its always been ok to wear certain things that belong to a certain style because you like it and have a loose affiliation with other people who share your eye. Now its become about who is wearing what, how hard to find the item is, what secret vintage store you have in your back pocket, and who is collaborating with who. When in the end it doesnt matter if you have good taste in clothes if you dont have style.
P.S.- Mister Mort is excluded from my previous post. He is the only one who gets it. It showed in his booth and on his site. That man has got steez for days!!!
"I'm sure we'll see some cool stuff, but to some degree I expect it to be a hipster/designer/fashion/menswear/blogger networking party, so a little of the old shameless self promotion couldn't hurt, right?"
So you knew what you were in for, but still acted like you were so offended by the "gourmet" goods up for sale? What person took the jam out of your donut to make you feel the need to shit on something that a large group of people had a nice time attending? Were you laughed at when you handed out your business card? I'm just asking because I'm having trouble understanding how one person has so much animosity and feels so entitled to put down another's hard work, simply because you thought the prices were too high, or you didn't enjoy the crowd? Sounds like you need to smoke a joint or crack open a beer and relax my friend.
I'm sure there isn't person who benefited from your presence at the PUF. Michael Williams on the other hand helped vendors and some designers get some exposure they might not have gotten otherwise. In this economic climate, the retail workd can use all the help it can get. And don't start on the "Well J.Crew had a table there BS," just because you can't afford it doesn't mean there aren't a hand full of other people that love, and can afford this sort of product. It's Manhattan my friend...not Southie.
Ps - When is the event you've organized happening? You know...because you're so knowledgeable about what will please every single person that walks through the door.
Whoa! Let the backlash begin. I generally agree with what's being said here, but let's all please keep in mind that these brands--overpriced and lacking originality as they may be--are at least inspiring a renewed attention to quality and tried-and-true aesthetics. It's easy to take this stuff for granted now that we're completely over-saturated with it, but for a long time no one was making anything new in this style. It's going to pass soon enough, but as trends go I like this one a lot more than most others.
My opinion is as valid as anyone's, isn't it?
I'm not sh*tting on anything, just offering my take on the matter. Plenty of others have done the same, even if theirs was different than mine.
Unsurprisingly, an unpopular opinion has attracted alot of vitriol.
Gitman Bros., Rogues Gallery, Billykirk et al. are hardly struggling young brands in need of the salvation of Michael Williams or any body else. They ar all internet sensations, which is fine. But I'm not about to support a ludicrous price that makes coal mining clothes the province of the very wealthy...doesn't make sense to me. Again, only my opinion.
I had an idea what I might be in for, but I attended in the hopes of being convinced otherwise. I wasn't.
Judging by the comments here so far, Manhattan hipsters seem to be a fairly insecure bunch as soon as anyone calls them out.
Somebody argue the point with me like an adult, without the swearung or name calling, please. Seriously, I have faithfully published every single comment I've ever gotten. Others choose only to publish those that agree. Willima hiomslef even said so in his follow up post. I am only trying offer my own opinion, and perhaps promote an open and honest discussion on the matter. I'm not the one who winds up with egg on his face when others choose to make childish and demeaning remarks.
Behave like gentlemen, please...or don't they do that in Manhattan?
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