When Giuseppe and I team up for the markets, the wheeling and dealing starts before the clothes even leave the van. Actually, the wheeling and dealing usually starts while the clothes are being loaded into the van. Two clothes-mad menswear obsessives, a truck load of good vintage clothes, an East Cambridge old-man dive bar serving dollar 'Gansett, all the variables in the equation point to some serious sartorial commodities trading, and by "commodities" I mean stuff that 99% of the world considers old junk.
But if you're like us, and you know that the thrill of second-hand clothing involves a degree of serendipity that can't be found by throwing money around in retail chains, then you'll know that the art of the clothing trade is more than just a swap; it involves careful consideration of all the ways in which these clothes have value.
Before I wax too poetic about this I'll set the stage. G and I show up for the White Eagle Bazaar (at the aforementioned East Cambridge old-man dive bar) wearing nearly identical polo coats, both of which we thrifted, and neither of which were quite right for their wearers. Mine was an 80's USA-Made Polo Ralph polo coat, with all the details that make a polo coat a polo coat, and big, broad sweeping peaked lapels that I love about all things Ralph does with peaked lapels. Trouble was, the sleeves were a bit short and it was a bit big through the middle.
Giuseppe's coat was of older vintage, 60's Filene's, with with almost all the same details, only slightly shorter in the body than my Ralphie, with more conservative peaked lapels that curved with a bit more "belly" than Ralph's broad, straight peak. The Filene's also had a hooked vent, which I found to be a nice nod to 60s Ivy without looking too much like period costume.
Our usually frantic pre-market set-up was put on hold while we took turns trying on the coats and weighing the ins and outs of a potential trade. They both had roughly equivalent resale value, but Giuseppe's Filene's coat had more history to it. I liked the lapels on the Ralph but found the length on the Filene's to be better. The hooked vent was speaking to me, a detail that I hadn't seen on polo coats before. It came down to a matter of fit, and in the end G and I both came away with coats that fit us better than the ones we walked in with.
words and photos by Zachary De Luca