Great pants are like great vacations
Plus: Unisex UK designer gems nobody's checking for, a cheap vibey vintage trove & more "unbeatable recon"
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane.
Our interviews with Nathan Fielder, Jerry Seinfeld, Tyler, The Creator, Emily Bode, Online Ceramics, André 3000, Matty Matheson, Lorde, John Mayer, Danielle Haim, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, The Kid Mero, Daniel Arnold, Thomas Mars from Phoenix, Phoebe Bridgers, Michael Stipe, Sandy Liang, Héctor Bellerín, John Wilson, Mike Mills, Ezra Koenig, Action Bronson, Seth Rogen and more are HERE.
— Jonah & Erin
Issue 001 of Concorde, our brand-new vertical, is here.
The New York Times has a profile out about us today, here !
And The Guardian has a profile out about us today, too, here !
In today’s newsletter we’ve got intel on:
A made-to-order unisex UK label with tons of great pieces that no one is checking for
A deep-cut vintage seller — beloved by the tied-in & tasteful, yet unknown to the Depop masses — who sells old gems for cheap
A very wavy 1/4-zip fleece — just when you might have thought the sun was setting on 1/4-zip fleeces…
BUT FIRST — Some profound thoughts on the value of clothes…
The other day I (Jonah) was out with a buddy who, when he wants to buy something expensive, tries to make his decision extremely systematically. If you find yrself ready to, say, splash out on a vibey, audiophile-approved vintage turntable with a budget between $900 and $1100, he’s a great person to ask for tips, because he’s spent hours poring over audio message boards, absorbing reviews, weighing cosmetic details alongside technical ones, learning which models have more or less cachet among obsessives, spotting opportunities for arbitrage, creating spreadsheets, etc.
Weighing all of these factors, he tends to err on the side of spending more than he “should” to get the Right Thing rather than something that’s almost as good, because he sees a false economy in the latter path: the shortcomings, real and perceived, of the bargain joint will gnaw at his enjoyment.
And yet he tends not to think this way when it comes to clothes! A mutual friend recently mentioned his interest in some sick, not-cheap Japanese-typewriter-cotton jawns from the cool independent Vancouver label James Coward. As a big-gas-slapper-enabler who wants to see my homies shine, I told him, “Do yr d*mn thing, king.” But our audiophile buddy took the opposite tack, dismissing the price as “too much to spend on clothes.” Over dinner, I asked him why his “cop The Right Thing” policy doesn’t extend to jawns. He gladly drops $$$ for tube amps with “warm tones” and “characterful resonance” or whatever — why not for beautiful fabrics and meticulous cuts, too?
He told me that when he’s trying to rationalize big purchases, he has an easier time justifying functional & beautiful things with a pattern of holding their value… (like audio gear.) And yet, he conceded, he’s also been known to go “bon vivant boi” mode and fork over fat fistfuls of Benjamins for nice dinners and smooth Scotches: the kinds of purchases that (along with travel) can be deeply pleasurable, even transformative, but which are, in a strict temporal sense, evanescent …
Where do clothes fall on that spectrum? I threw together a Functional ~ Value-holding ~ Instantly depreciating ~ Transformative-but-temporary Matrix above, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where sick garments fit on it. Some pieces, like, say, vintage Levi’s jackets, gain value in robust, decades-spanning collector’s markets. By contrast, hyped sneakers have a jittery, day-trading unpredictability to them and, moreover, people in this market fetishize the box-fresh and are inimical to actual wear. Similarly, while the secondary market for currently hot high-end designers is strong, who knows how long even the most patently beautiful pieces will hold secondhand value among the fickle fashion-copping public??
Rather than being vexed by these difficulties, I admire what they reveal about good clothes’ multivalent powers. Dope garment-dyed pleated pants cut from typewriter cotton are kind like a great Scotch — except the bottle doesn’t go empty as you drink from it. Wearing a wild hand-threaded silk Bode shirt is kind of like taking a vacation from the humdrum quotidian — except you can go back any time you want, no actual travel required. Moving through the world ensconced in a bussin’ cashmere Row overcoat on your Tár s**t (shout out Tár once again) is kind of like enjoying a lushly mastered record on a hi-fi turntable — except in 10 years the wool might be pilling, and if you try to sell it you might take a big hit, if you can find any takers in the first place…
Ultimately, you can’t get mired too deeply in this kind of thinking. Are you a “prudent investor” assiduously building a portfolio of high-value liquidatable assets” 😴?? Or are you a Mach 3+ jawns-rocker, alert to important questions of durability and longevity, but also alive to the ineffable P💃O💃E💃T💃R💃Y of excellent clothes ?!
SPEAKING OF EXCELLENT CLOTHES— check out these unisex slappers: