Visiting Garret Gooch at O2Show

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This past week, I was proud to briefly visit my friend Garret Gooch and his latest project, which like most of his life, is centered around ethical and sustainable brands.

We love to support our friends in their endeavors!

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If you’re a keen reader of the blog, you’ll know Garret as guy who does it all and has his hands in everything. He’s a runner for Adidas, representing the brand at races and photoshoots.  He’s a legitimate model and has been featured in print and digital.  He loves helping out artisanal makers with branding and marketing, especially regarding 2120, whom you’ve no doubt heard of before.  And recently (at least until now), he assisted with the launch of Ziggie, an e-commerce site based on, you guessed it, sustainable brands.

So clearly this idea of ethical/sustainable artisanship is something Garret holds very close to his heart. I mean, he’s been on both sides of it, by purchasing products and assisting whenever he can. Every time he’s done a Gooch Collective, Garret has made it a point to bring together great brands which at the very least, were artisanal, like 2120 or Clutch Golf. His love for furthering this narrative has culminated into the launch of O2Show, which as you can see by the words above, is all about that: sustainable and ethical brands.

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I’m not sure if it’s just a testament to Garret’s work ethic but to me, it seems that this trade show happened extremely quickly; it feels like he had just announced it on his IG! This isn’t really much of a surprise, considering how much work he had put into the Gooch Collectives of times past.  While it wasn’t a complete solo effort (he worked on this show with two other like minded people), his story was filled with physically setting up the fixtures and stalls.

Garret invited me to check it the show and I happily obliged considering that I am off Mondays (Ascot Chang is closed Sunday-Monday) as of the New Year and I wanted to support my friends.  It wasn’t menswear focused unfortunately, but this would be the first trade show I’d attend ever! There was bound to be something that caught my eye and as the blog shifts into a new era after being in existence for five years, it’s nice to write about things that I enjoy.

And maybe if any industry people read this, they’ll know that a cool menswear trade show is possible! If there already are, then invite me damnit.

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The show took place at the California Market Center in DTLA. I had never been there before, but apparently it’s the go-to place for trade shows and show rooms. As a guy who is used to retail locations, tailoring ateliers, and trunk shows, this was a new world. Presumably, this would be similar to what Pitti is like.  Parking in the area was a total bust and as I didn’t want to spend $15 for a structure, I eventually found a meter that gave me 1.5 hours to explore the show.

As I expected there wasn’t too much that was my cup of tea, but there were a few things that caught my eye!  Unfortunately for some of the showers, I wasn’t there as a buyer for a store or a writer for a big publication, but I do appreciate learning more about these things that I wouldn’t normally get to see!

And yes, I almost did buy a few things.

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It’s always a great time to catch up with my favorite leather goods making couple, Silvano and and Melissa of Clarke & Barba.  You may remember them as the brand that made my epic leather tote bag that I literally bring around with me everyday for work. They’re also just a stylish duo that has a genuine interest in classic menswear, which is why I see them at the rare times trunk shows and parties happen in LA!

Based in Culver City, the couple makes handmade leather goods with a twinge of minimalism and punk, which represents their interests.  They’ve come a long way since the launch of the tote bag I helped design (which is always available for purchase), expanding their bag offerings, making things in suede, and even contracting with a restaurant to make their check presenters! I’m very proud of them and hope they made some great contacts during the trade show.

Everything they do is MTO (they seldom keep heavy stock of their pieces) as to cut down on waste.

 

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Love these handheld totes.

 

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The Ethan bag in natural.

 

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I was especially intrigued by the passport wallets, which I find to be a bit more attractive than the Papa one of the Observer Collection.  Lately, I’ve started using a longer wallet (vintage, picked up at the flea market) since it’s a bit more secure for my cards (since it clasps shut) than a regular billfold. This passport holder is certainly in that same vein and I would’ve loved to use it in Japan, as travelers are required to bring their passport with them at all times.

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Up next is Large Lemonade, a  custom chainstitch embroidery company done by Brooke and her boyfriend. Brooke does all the embroidery work and as you can see, it’s fantastic. Everything from the fonts to the objects illustrated on the cloth is extremely well done.  I don’t have anything with embroidery, but I’m starting to feel the need for it. I’ve delved into “art” on clothing through paint and I’ve since started to put pins on my tote bag and stickers on my laptop case; it’s probably the closest I’ll get to tattoos.

It’s definitely cool to see more of this craft popping up, as it’s pretty popular in the denim/workwear space. I definitely like Large Lemonade because it provides a bit more fun and novelty in its vibe!

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This guy caught my eye because of his dope outfit; then his store sold me.  These two represent Hightide, a Japanese stationery store in The Row, a place in DTLA I have yet to fully explore.

There’s something wonderful about well designed stationery that seems natural to me.  It must be similar to how menswear and good photography tend to go hand-in-hand. I’m not one to write without or make art without using a computer (especially since my office is either on the table in Ascot Chang or at a local boba shop), but seeing their wares available for wholesale really sold me on mentally decorating the desk I could have.

With all the colors and fun aesthetics, it certainly contrasts the more earth-toned neutral/minimals that most people my age tend to go for (think Muji). Maybe if I had the pieces, I’d more inclined to start a true home office (or at least invest in actual writing tools and accoutrements).

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I especially loved these metal cases for glasses. They remind me of something out of the 1950’s. I was tempted to buy them at the wholesale price, but I didn’t have enough for a minimum order!

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Leather ones were good too.

 

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Norden focuses on outerwear made from upcycled plastics, which I think is a perfect choice to make parkas and puffers. The jacket styles are certainly classic and are a natural fit for guys who don’t feel the need to wear a tailored overcoat; I know that my non-menswear friends tend to gravitate toward them in the colder months.

What I liked about the brand was that the pieces are rather well designed and not to dependent on being “minimal” or shapeless, which is what many ethical/sustainable brands tend to do. Norden clearly has a bit of a techwear influence in there but the colors remind me of 1960s-1980s vibrant ski wear, a topic that I’ve slowly been getting into.  Hell, I could see some connotations to ivy-inspired fits!

 

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Love the extra pockets.

 

 

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Great colors!

 

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Absolutely loved this.  Great color and good design. It’s just asking for a tweed jacket, ocbd, jeans, and duck boots.

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Side tabs!

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This bamboo bike caught my attention and despite it not really being a fashion or accessory piece, it was still cool. It turns out that it was made by Ottmane Gums, an artist that works primarily with bamboo to make a multitude of pieces.  Each one takes days to make, but it’s certainly a sustainable choice; the bike photographed is his personal one that Gums actually rode around the USA.

I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a kid, but seeing a cool one (the ones I had were not cool), makes me want to return to it.

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As an art hoe with a penchant for abstract shapes, the throw blankets of Happy Habitat really caught my eye. I mean they literally look like things that I would paint for myself! As most of my friends tend to prefer vintage persian rugs and blankets of Indigo or Pendleton origin, these geometric focused pieces were a nice contrast and certainly more “Ethan”.

I chatted with Karrie, who designs and produces all the pieces her self. I was very intrigued by how she gathers inspiration, as she takes it all from her everyday life.  Some of them, like the orange stripes were taken from an old 70s ski jacket she still owns.  Others are reinterpretations of her living space, like pastel colors on a windowpane.  And a few are inspired by art, both classic and ethnic.

I could totally see one of these draped in my future living room.

 

 

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Absolutely cool!

 

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Didn’t get a chance to deep dive on East/West shop, but I loved that she was producing dyes from natural ingredients right there on the trade show floor!

 

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Conclusion

I’m very proud Garret, as he worked hard to produce this show! Its definitely within his wheelhouse, not just in regards to his career, but his genuine interest. And I can’t thank him enough for allowing me to attend, even though I’m not a publication journalist or a true influencer.

As you can tell, the O2Show was certainly something different than I’m used to attending, but still heavily related to my interests.  Ethical and sustainable clothing is important, especially considering that fashion/menswear is an important part of my life.  This aspect may not be something I look for specifically when buying clothing (maybe it should), but its a good side effect from wanting to support artisan made tailoring. I’m not an expert in this exactly how ethical classic menswear can be, but since bespoke or MTM tailoring is technically only started when an order is placed, it benefits from at least not contributing to the bulk of fast fashion.

Obviously I wish that I had attended a more menswear focused trade show, as I have never been around anything other than a full store or a trunk show/pop-up.  However, it was great to have been invited to attend and document the few brands I was interested in; there’s always something that catches my eye and is worth seeing! So maybe this can serve as a bit of training, navigating a more business-centric environment, meeting a plethora of brands, and asking the right questions to write about.

Time can only tell what other trade shows I could attend, but if anyone wants to make menswear happen here in Los Angeles, I’m ready for you.

Always a pleasure,

@EthanMWong

 

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