Inspiration LA 2018

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Extremely, outrageously long blog post.  Just scroll for pictures.

Your favorite vintage sartorial nutheads are back and actually had fun at Inspiration LA.  This time we weren’t loners and actually brought along a couple of friends!

Obviously we don’t have Pitti Uomo here (Dapper Day barely  counts), but the one thing that LA does have is Inspiration LA.  It’s similar to Pitti in that it is a trade show, except it focuses more on vintage inspired leather, denim, and workwear; some vendors are even “pickers”, selling their cool finds for usually expensive prices.  You don’t get tailors, but you do get some of the best craftsman in the world, along with extremely stylish guys who don’t need a suit to look good.   It’s certainly a different environment than most of us are used to, but if you’ve been following me closely, you’ll know that I’ve been incorporating more and more piece from workwear to make my own casual style.

At the REEF, right in the heart of DTLA, the second floor is taken over by this scene. Inspiration actually spans two days, Friday and Saturday. .  If you look on the website, you can see that there are crazy premiums if you want to be able to buy stuff right away. The guys and I normally go on Saturday after 1PM as the price is only $10 and we don’t exactly have the funds to spend thousands on a vintage Buco double rider.  Interestingly, the Vintage Fashion Expo is usually the same day, but the crowds couldn’t be more different; rockabilly and pinups went down stairs while military fatigues and wide leg denim went upstairs.

I’ve only been there a few times before (2017 and 2016) but I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been intimidated everytime.  Not only did I not have cool casual clothing but we didn’t know anybody.  We latched onto Benny and Damian but we spent most of our time awkwardly meandering around.  This time was different.

The blog has grown and my squad has definitely gotten bigger!  In addition to Spencer and Blake, I’ve was able to bring in my friends  Andrew, Andy, and Trung, the latter two being instagram mutuals and fans of this blog.  They were more than happy to tag along, as they are able to appreciate great style, even if it isn’t what they normally wear.  Additionally, Spencer, Blake, and I have greatly improved our wardrobe, as we all are tired of wearing suits all the time.  Obviously tailoring is the main focus of the blog, but we’ve been building up this side of our closet, and this is great opportunity to show it off and discuss it with fellow enthusiasts.

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Even though Spencer and I were set to attend Saturday afternoon, we actually stopped by the waning Friday hours to meet with our new friends Joshua, Garret, and Aram, whom we last saw that the Wellema x Gooch Collective party.  Aram and Garret run the 2120 Handcrafted booth and they were going to attend the Levi’s Vintage Clothing Day One afterparty a few blocks down the road.  Joshua was going as well and they invited Spencer and I to tag along.  It was a pretty chill, again filled with stylish people that I didn’t know, but we all had swarthy glasses of water and had a great time.  They had a free photobooth there manned by Dan Dealy, where he snapped some truly amazing pics.  Since the party was a last minute event, I came straight in work attire; luckily I had a my repro 1940’s plaid jacket to wear instead of my suit jacket.  I think it made for a cool look.

The next day, we were plenty prepared and brought our A-game.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take pictures outside with the usual “Ethan Photography” since we were busy talking to a lot of people and checking out cool shit, but we made do with a an empty vendor space!  I think I was able to do a great job without having a light or flash!

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Spencer is no stranger to the vintage casual game.  In previous posts (whether here on or on instagram), he’s usually in some combination of high rise denim, sportshirt, and short jacket.  He’s been wanting to change it up, so he’s invested in other pieces that can actually be combined with tailoring as needed. Over his Rugby RL workshirt (which lacks the loop collar), he has a great suede blouson that makes the whole outfit look like this Rockwell painting.  For trousers, he followed my lead from last time and picked up some vintage chinos.  Unlike my college brand ones, Spencer’s are true 1940’s military surplus, which is what college students would actually have worn when the ivy movement took over.

He finishes off with my borrowed Stetson western fedora.

Blake

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Have I told you that I’m insanely jealous of Blake’s casual attire? He’s been grabbing up the stuff that doesn’t fit Wilhelm, a german vintage enthusiast who has the craziest, rare vintage wardrobe that I’ve ever seen.  This corduroy jacket is one awesome example.  He pairs it with a popover spearpoint workshirt  (also german) with his signature work chinos that feature cool orange stitching.  My casual style is more along the lines of Spencer, but I won’t deny that this is a badass look.  It’s certainly very popular among hardcore workwear enthusiasts.

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Joshua is back again, giving us his own interpretation of casual vintage style.  With a 1940s Hercules workjacket, he has an oxford (with a jaunty early 1900s kilt pin) and some tapered and cropped 1450’s trousers.  He adds some newer pieces like the Knickerbocker engineer cap and some sleek 2120 loafers (with white socks) to give it some more flair.  It’s much more minimal and streamlined than what you’d normally see at Inspiration, but I can dig it.  It’s like a clean take on rugged style!  You can definitely see why Clutch Magazine likes to shoot with him.

Garret

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I really love Garret’s outfit.  It’s truly a modern take classic vintage casual style: gabardine short jacket and pleated chinos.  Obviously the trousers are slimmer than the 40s-50s we normally see, but that’s perfectly fine with me.  To update the look (and add his own take), Garret wears a white band collar shirt (with nice brown buttons) and some wild hair-on chelsea boots from 2120.  I don’t think I could pull off the boots, but I damn sure could use that jacket.

Trung

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Trung is a friend of mine from Dallas, who comes to LA once a month to visit me (and his girlfriend).  Having previously done a part time job at Suit Supply, Trung built up his sartorial wardrobe with some great pieces.  As he moves forward in his career, he’s been looking into trying out the higher end brands that I’ve been following: Berg & Berg, Drake’s, and Stóffa.  However, he’s been looking into casual tailoring as well!

Like my blog post, he tries a striped tee tucked into high rise trousers, complete with white socks and penny loafers.  For a top layer, he opts for a slick green chore coat that he got on eBay.  I guess green is a small theme for this event!  Overall, I’m very proud of Trung with this outfit; I might steal it.

Cody Wellema

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Cody always kills it.  Like we discussed on the podcast, Cody has moved on from being completely vintage all the time.  Now he opts for his own take on vintage fashion, mixing in contemporary items when it fits his style.  Here, on a very hot  Los Angeles February day, he wears a linen sport set from our friends at Clutch Golf.  The entire thing is like a vintage-menswear interpretation of lunarcore or palewave, thanks to the almost solid block of tan. I do like his use of dark brown in the shoes and hat for contrast!  It’s a strong look that you wouldn’t normally on a vintage enthusiast.  That’s the beauty of Inspiration: it brings more adventurous dressers into the game.

Andy

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As you can see, Andy isn’t really much of a workwear or vintage casual guy.  Nevertheless, he decided to stunt on people with a great outfit!  I mean, you can’t ever go wrong with a navy jacket and cream trousers.  Like me, Andy gets a lot of his stuff on eBay and he certainly uses it to great success.  For example, his unstructured patch pocket jacket was a Suit Supply piece that was purchased for under $200.  I’ve been wanting one myself for a long time!  Maybe I’ll get lucky, if I ever stop spending my money on other shit.

Matt Deckard

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Matt Deckard is a sharp dresser, fantastic hat designer, and swing dancer extraordinaire. He showed up to Inspiration wearing a bespoke brown peak lapel suit (which has an action back) with a striped spearpoint and a brocade tie with an octopus motif. It’s odd for me to see him without his signature large hats, but I think the cap suits him fine. He made an outfit change later on for the RRL party, so we’ll see him again soon.

Kosuke

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I think Kosuke might be my new style inspiration for 2018.  He created his own brand Clutch Golf and has made some awesome vintage inspired designs that aren’t too far off from something I’d wear. It’s all pleats, wide leg openings, camp collars, and unstructured jackets made of interesting cottons, wools, and linens.  I’m honestly not sure how else to describe it, but it’s really cool and I recommend checking it out. He’s certainly someone to watch!

Ethan

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I’ve been wanting to do a look like this for a long time, so I’m glad I had an opportunity to do it!  Back in the day, guy would pair their leather jackets with more than just white tees and denim; most of the time they swapped their sportcoats for leather once they were off work.  Here, I kept that casual sartorial alive by wearing my leather jacket (not before seen on this blog) with my college chinos, chambray shirt, and wool repp tie. I know it has some slight Indy vibes, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities to wear my Wellema fedora, so I wore it.  I think it really ties the look together, don’t you think?

I also want to mention that this 1940’s leather jacket was bought for $120 on eBay and was insanely dry and cracked; one sleeve even ripped.  It’s now back to comfortable, wearable condition thanks to a patch by my tailor and a lot of leather conditioner.

Eli

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Eli always wins for “most badass look”, at least in my book.  He has his day job at Joyride vintage, which is where I met him, but he can also be seen selling at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and right here at Inspiration. He’s wearing a 3/4 length leather jacket, a workshirt, a 1920s workvest, great wide cuff denim, and what I’m assuming are engineer boots.  Eli really gives me some inspiration to try out more rugged vintage casual looks, but I’ll get there soon enough.

Damian Monsivais

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I feel so bad for Damian because I seldom get a chance to see his shop; the only reason I get to hang with Cody so much is because Cody lives so close to me!  Anyway, Damian wears a pretty badass Inspiration outfit: a Brown’s Beach Vest and great denim.  This was taken right before he packed up and left, so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get him in his brown canvas work jacket.  It was pleated (like a Levi’s type 100) but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Sara

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Couldn’t resist taking a picture of Damian’s lovely girlfriend Sara.  Again, I don’t know too much about vintage women’s clothing, but I’m assuming that it’s all pieces from the 1930s-1950s.  In a cool move, she wears a green varsity cardigan (with a dope bike patch) over a western print dress.

Andrew

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Andrew isn’t into menswear, but he’s a great friend of mine that wanted to come along! His outfit is no doubt the epitome of the Canadian Tuxedo, with a denim jacket and blue jeans, split by a black tee.  It’s not quite like outfits we saw at Inspiration, but I like that he got into the denim spirit and had fun with us!

Snapshots

Here’s some shots I took on Saturday.  It was a pretty fun day with a lot of activity, so I’ll try my best to summarize it for you guys! Hopefully it’ll entice you to join us next February.

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Immediately before purchasing our tickets, we ran into our friend Robert Spangle (known on instagram as Thousand Yard Style) the UK GQ photographer.  He’s here wearing a Brycelands sawtooth denim shirt and Anglo-Italian denim to great effect.  I’ve always loved the combo of blue and white.  We talked briefly about how I’m trying to bring menswear back to LA and how he’s literally going to be in NYC a few hours after Inspiration.  I last saw him two years ago and I don’t expect him to hang out with a 22 year old nerd, but he’s a really great inspiration for me (style and photography wise).  It really was a happy surprise to run into him again! Maybe he’d be down for a boba when he’s back in Cali again.

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THEN we ran into Jesse Thorn, podcaster and founder of Put This On, one of the few menswear blogs I actually enjoy and check daily.  I don’t think I could ever wear overalls, but damn if Jesse’s not making a strong case for it.

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We also saw Rachel on her way out of the Vintage Fashion Expo, with like five dresses in her bag.  It wasn’t Wednesday, but she was wearing pink.

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One of the tables we had to check out was Orange Crush Exports.  It was where I found my 1950’s college chinos with the tags still on it! I didn’t get anything this time, Spencer briefly considered this cotton military jacket.  The epaulets were removed to give it a “regular” appearance, but the overt military vibes were enough to have Spencer pass on it.  I feel like I could make it work. Maybe.
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I’ve only seen Buco worn by others, so it was a cool experience to wear a vintage one myself.  I didn’t even inquire about the price since I knew that there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to afford it.  Not only is a black double rider (what I’ve been looking for), but it has the rare D-pocket.   Lord almighty.

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We made a quick stop at the Himel Bros. table and met David Himel.  They are one of the best leathersmiths out there and I was lucky enough to try on one of their grizzly jackets.  It was a little long (it was a 38 where I’m probably a 38s or a 36 in leather jackets), but I could immediately feel the quality of the garment.  Perhaps someday, I’ll be able to own one or get it bespoke!

David told us that Brycelands is one of his best partners and that the their orders consistently sell out.

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We just had to say hi to Maiko manning the Clutch Magazine booth. Spencer, Blake, and I all got our picture taken! I just hope they make it into the final copy.

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We couldn’t stay at the Monsivais  booth for long, as we only had a few hours to see everything, but I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of some beautifully made caps.  I’m telling you, no one makes a better reproduction vintage cap than Damian!

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I had a chance to catch up with Jan Tong, from the Armoury HK.  To my surprise, he was dressed pretty similarly with a fedora, leather jacket, chambray shirt, and chinos.  It’s such a great look, right?

From what I remember, he used to come as a general visitor, but this time he came for business! He has a store called Antiqlockwse, where they sell some amazing vintage watches.  I know nothing about watches, but I do know that vintage omegas really do it for me.

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I’m sure that we’re going to do a full post and podcast interview with Kosuke for Clutch Golf, but I felt like I had to show you more of what they had to offer.  I’m really digging his suits, which are all three button and feature some form of patch pockets.  Kosuke picks some non-traditional fabrics (like the orange linen seen below) to  make things even more interesting.  He isn’t interested in classic tailoring; instead he’s doing his own spin on it that I really enjoy.  I honestly feel like this fits in with LA more so than the suits that Spencer and I wear.
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Suki, who I met at the Gooch Collective party, was selling for Shabon and rocking a cool outfit. The event wasn’t just men!

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Snapped a quick picture of our friend Tyler right before he left.  Not only is he wearing a belted back, green checked jacket but he’s got a 1920’s shirt sans detachable collar.  Segmented stripes were a fad during that time and can be pretty rare to find!  Tyler’s got a penchant for early twenties tailoring and he doesn’t miss a change to break it out.

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Enoch was one of the coolest cats there.  Like Blake as of late, he’s a big collector of European workwear.  I didn’t a chance to talk to him much, but I at least got to document his outfit!

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With a few minutes before closing, we stopped by American Blues Trading.  They had a huge collection of vintage, including some 1970’s deadstock wallabees.  Since they were a different color than my Padmores, I was tempted to buy some but ultimately I decided not to.  Remember, I’ve gotta be intentional with my buying and stop buying random shit that I come across!

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The only thing I did walk out with was this 1930’s single breasted peak lapel belt back sportcoat.  It’s hard to see the details here, but I’m sure I’ll have a blog post about it soon!  It fit right off the bat and doesn’t need any tailoring.

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This is Lulu Peters, the lady who sold me the belt back jacket! You guys probably know her as the owner of Roxy’s Vintage Deluxe, the costuming warehouse in Burbank that I’ve gone to a few times. She’s sold me quite a few great stuff like the Brooks Brothers brown 3PC and the 1960’s summer suit!  I’m really going to have to organize an event on a weekend, so we can all have a tour of her warehouse and have the opportunity to buy some great vintage!

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As I briefly mentioned before, 2120 Handcrafted is a brand run by Aram and Garret that sells goodyear welt shoes made in Léon, Mexico.  They normally have a minimalistic design, but they used Inspiration to unveil their hair-on collection.  Their main models are brown/black and white/black though the specific hide does very from model to model; no two shoes are the same.  I couldn’t wear them myself, but the black/white ones did catch my eye!

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I really wouldn’t be a Street x Sprezza post if we didn’t have a small section for silly pictures.  We had a lot of fun after we took everyone’s style portraits!

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Oh man, I wish I saw this section before I bought my jacket.  Apparently there Levi’s was selling their LVC collection for only $250 a piece! I know that I already have the 501CTs and the 1878s, but the 1933’s are on my radar since they have suspender buttons and belt loops.  Maybe next time!

After Inspiration, there was an after party at the RRL store on Melrose.  We got there a little bit late since we had a boba pit stop, but we still were able to get the free food and continue hanging out!

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One of the main highlights of the evening was the opportunity to meet and talk with Kenji Cheung,   For those of you who don’t know, Kenji is the co-founder of Brycelands, a menswear store that I’ve been following closely for its focus on tailoring and vintage.  Both he and Ethan Newton (the other founder) are huge style inspirations for me and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to meet them.

I thought I had missed Kenji since I didn’t see him earlier in the afternoon, but I was happy when I saw him drinking with some of his friends in the store.   During a lull, I introduced myself to him and we spent the better part of an hour talking about menswear.  Not only did we talk about our past and collecting vintage, but we also discussed the business of menswear and how he and Ethan have been able to be successful despite forging a new and very niche facet of menswear.   The insight I gathered from the conversation was certainly invaluable.  I can’t wait until I get to check out his store!

Conclusion

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Inspiration 2018 was freakin’ amazing.  If you look at everything, I think it’s really a testament to how much the blog has grown.  Not only have we all gotten a few more items to spice up our casual style but we’ve made a lot more menswear friends and contacts.  It made the even much more fun to go to!

Even though this wasn’t a sartorial event, it was truly a celebration of style.  These guys aren’t arguing over the correct tie length, the right fit, or the other minutiae of menswear.  From what I saw, things were pretty laid back and had no issue with the variety of styles in attendance.  Everyone looked completely natural and easy-going, despite the intricacies of each outfit.  Perhaps the sartorial side needs to take some pointers from Inspiration.

The next “volume” is exactly a year away, but I’d love to invite you guys to come out next time.  If you’re looking for some inspiration to dress down once in awhile, you guys should definitely think about attending (pun intended).  There’s a bunch of great, well dressed guys to meet here as well as plenty of vendors selling some great vintage! The denim and leather jackets might be a tad expensive, but from what I can see the tailoring (ties, chinos, and sportcoats) can be affordable if you’re lucky!  And if you strike out, at least you can enjoy the style and the free food at the RRL after party.

Big thanks to everyone who agreed to get their picture taken!

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W. 

@ethanmwong

Street x Sprezza 

Photography by Ethan W. and Trung 

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