Kingpins New York: Round Table Discussion on Inspiration

We’ve just spent the last two days at the Kingpins trade show in New York, hosting a series of events and soaking up new season inspiration. On day one we created an exclusive round table discussion revolving around denim inspiration and chose four very unique individuals to take part:

Mordechai Rubinstein: A photographer and consultant, focussing on street fashion with an unconventional and inquisitive eye. He has worked closely with Levi’s as their global trend specialist and flies around the world, hunting for fresh denim inspiration to update his popular blog, Mr Mort. He would never leave house without his “common sense and a camera.”

Gill Linton: Gill is the founder of Byronesque, a vintage website with a difference, focusing on vintage fashion and the culture that surrounds it, approaching the industry from an editorial and e-commerce perspective. Her aim is to modernize the industry and pull it into the future as “nostalgia is the enemy of progress.”

Michaela Dosamantes: The newly appointed Senior Fashion Editor at Carine Roitfeld’s new magazine, CF Fashion Book. Previously she has worked at French Vogue and contributed to Japanese and Italian Vogue. And is always looking at people she encounters to “find the essence of their style.”

Josh Farley: The joint founder of WRK Design with his partner Jeremy Floto. They have designed Earnest Sewn stores, a True Religion showroom, the Rolling Stones 2013 tour private lounge, a barbershop in NY’s trendy Ace Hotel and many more amazing spaces. They find a lot of their inspiration at flea markets, yard sales and abandoned factories and “see the potential in things.”

The 30 minute discussion covered street style, vintage, shopping, the Internet and bookstores; and between all of them, were able to take a great deal of inspiration from the event. Here are some of our favorite snippets from the conversation:

First, we asked them how what they do in their eclectic day jobs is linked to denim:

Josh: Denim needs to be broken down and it wears well, so we’re always looking for objects that reflect that and support that. We shop less in  flea markets and instead like to find objects in a closed down factory or somewhere off the beaten path. Often we’ll find an object or centerpiece that works with the concept of the brand and supports what the brand is about.

Mordechai: I like to find beauty in the everyday, sanitation workers, cops, uniforms… someone who has been wearing the same pair for 30-40-50 years, who has shopped in the same store all their lives. I love to walk Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue looking at the really well dressed men…who are rich. But I also love traveling and going to Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, Israel…anywhere else that my travels take me, looking at regular men. High-waisted, pleated jeans, tucked in shirts, loafers…I love classic men and classic clothing, things that have been around. And I like some high fashion, 15 pleated trousers too.

Michaela: I also find my inspiration in the everyday, I love to be in New York, Paris, Milan, seeing what everyone is wearing on the street and thinking about how high fashion can translate to the street. I love mixing high and low, scouring cheap stores to find that “wow” piece and mixing it with something from Chanel or Marc Jacobs.

Gill: Byronesque was born of a frustration with the world of fast fashion and we made a conscious decision to not include traditional denim: whenever you talk about vintage denim you think of 1940s Levi’s, selvedge, all that is quite easy to find and didn’t really interest us. We have this awesome John Paul Gaultier cage jacket made out of denim, recently reprised out of silk in his recent `80s retrospective collection. We’ve got this awesome Claude Montanna piece too – he’s used denim in an interesting way with suspender belts on shoulders. We always look for the unexpected things in denim and that’s why I launched Byronesque Vintage.

Where do you personally find your inspiration:

Mordechai: eBay.com. Rainy day, snow storm, beautiful day, at home…

Michaela: I would go to a book store: Taschen, Assouline.

Josh: Brimfield is always awesome, everyone goes there now but Hells Kitchen is a great flea market to find things you wouldn’t expect.

Gill: I would be with Michaela, book stores. There’s a great one called Mast on Avenue A and 5th Street. Because you get to really look back at the sub-cultures. You can delve into sub-cultures at a time when  creativity was much freer.

What do you think about the explosion of the street style blog? Love it or loath it?

Michaela: I really like looking at street photography, looking at different ways people wear things, how they’re twisting it, taking it to a different dimension. I think it helps to bring it into your subconscious, to think about different ways of wearing different clothes. I look at TommyTon and Style.com. I don’t like to look at the whole look, I like the little snips, the little details.

Mordechai: I love Kingstonstyle, it’s based in Jamaica, he goes to dancehall parties every night. TommyTon is great, it’s the best out there. And people, when you’re coming to New York, take the 4 train from Brooklyn all the way uptown and just stare at people. That’s the best way to see what people are wearing and to see what’s up. You can go to Bedford Avenue, go to Madison Avenue, the West Village, the Meatpacking District. But if you take the 4 from one end to the other, you’ll see New York.

Michaela: Also cafe culture is all about that too. When you go to Europe, everyone sits in cafes and stares at each other.

What about favorite places to find inspiration?
Josh: I love going to the Rust Belt in the North East: Massachusetts, Northern Connecticut, where everything is gone. All these one-factory towns… I find who owns what’s there and salvage what I can.

Gill: I recently spent a bit of time in London and I was actually really saddened about how everyone had become an android hipster; more so than Williamsberg and the other cliche areas we talk about. But then I went to Paris and normally it’s quite uniform, but I was with the locals and we found these pockets of the city with amazing characters wearing miss-matched prints and wild hair…so for the first time in Paris I’d discovered this wild, interesting local scene. I also love Antwerp because they just do their own thing and don’t care about trends.

Michaela: What Gill was saying about London is kinda true right now – people see a trend and they copy it and copy it and copy it, as it’s so high-street led there.

Mordechai: Pitti Uomo in Florence is the leading event for me, although I hate to admit it…it’s before Milan Fashion Week and you see all the peacocks gathering in one place. It’s crazy because a few days later, you see the same looks going down the Milan runway, it’s amazing. However this season I did it in one day. You get to see the same thing without the partying and the B.S. But I definitely saw in one day what I came to see. I stand in, say, one or two places all day from 8am `till 6pm and take photos and talk to people and go home. And I’m taking less and less photos each season. I can’t shoot orange because everyone’s shooting orange, I can’t shoot the same guy because everyone’s shooting the same person. Everyone’s shooting the same thing, so I look for what I’m not seeing – if that makes sense.

Is it becoming harder to find treasures these days?

Josh: Oh, definitely. In the last few years as the industrial trend has grown, it’s becoming harder and harder to find those things.

Gill: For me it’s not getting harder to find the objects, I get calls from vintage retailers around the world every day. It’s harder to find people in this fast fashion world we live in. The value equation has shifted. People think it’s okay to spend $10 on an entire outfit and so when you’re asking people to buy something that’s really high quality, they’re questioning the price. So for me it’s harder to find the people who have the knowledge about the value of something that’s authentically vintage and high quality.

What about eras, what era of vintage do you all covet?
Gill: I’m a little bit obsessed with skinheads at the moment. It’s very interesting looking at subcultures and why the clans of people wore what they did. You can look at a skinhead in the `80s and they wore their Levi’s very differently, very loose, kept up with suspender belts, versus in the `70s they were a lot tighter and a lot shorter and more drainpipe. I’m also into the Riot Girls of the `40s that are fierce crazy women who looked insane.

Josh: For me right now, it’s stuck in the `50s to `70s era, trying to find the objects that aren’t being copied as earlier eras have all been copied.

Michaela: I’m between the early `90s and the mid-`70s. I love the early `90s idea of high and low, chains, over the top, splashy, and I love the idea of `70s hippie, easy…

Mordechai: I have no favorite era as such. I love the `70s, I love hippie shit, floral, embroidery, colors, patterns. I really love patterns but from every era.

If you’re out of inspiration or asked to do something that’s out of your comfort zone, what do you do?

Gill: Put a bit of yourself in it. I would embrace the project but make it personal.

Josh: That’s it. For the Rolling Stones, working on their backstage area we had just that problem. They were a great client but they are all pretty old, and they wanted to go glam rock. which if you’ve seen what we do, its not us at all! So we basically did as close as we could to glam rock which was kinda aged old man glam rock which was kinda poignant… and they were happy!

And any last words or inspiration tips?
Mordechai: Venture out of your comfort zone.

Gill: Go to gigs! I went to a gig the other day and the band were all wearing totally studded denim. Look for people who have to make shit for themselves because they can’t afford to buy it. That’s where the innovation is.

So it was an inspiring 30 mins! We then headed up to the roof in the evening to celebrate with Candiani on 75 years in the business. There was live music, a barbeque and drinks…. and a life-size jean cake that blew our minds…. For more from the show, wait for our key fabric trends, set to come out on the site next week.


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