Feb 22, 2018 | By Samuel Trotman
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Last Thursday night, we headed to the new pop-up Liberty Concept Space in LA’s Downtown district. Here, one of LA’s newest and most interesting vintage concepts, Lot, Stock & Barrel run by Benjamin Phillips, held an event to celebrate their pop-up store. The store is part of a new online and bricks and mortar vintage retail concept that he’s been working on over the past couple of months with his founding partner, Florence Tang.
We fired over some questions about their new concept after being pretty blown away by their stand at the recent Liberty trade fair in Vegas, here’s what they had to say:
You set up Lot, Stock & Barrel only two months ago, tell us what gave you the idea.
I have always been an avid vintage collector and extremely passionate about vintage garments, antiques, jewelery, guitars, motorcycles and basically anything with an intriguing story or background. Vintage goods always trigger some sort of emotional attachment for me, whether it’s a personal experience or relating to a particular book, film, or historical moment in time, and I always knew I wanted to share that same experience with an audience. We love storytelling here, and why not do it with some amazing vintage pieces and other curiosities.
What kind of work went into setting it up?
Lot, Stock & Barrel will always be a work in progress. I don’t think we will ever stop collecting, writing, photographing, and presenting digital and physical curations of vintage goods. Our team is very small, so we’ve all worn vast amounts of hats in growing the LS&B concept to where it is even today. I basically source all the vintage goods, create content for the web and shoot photography. Florence Tang, the second founder is our graphic designer, web developer, seamstress, and retail guru. We also have partners Junior Pence who handles our marketing and PR, and Nik Mickic built and maintains our web platform. We have all pitched in together to launch both of our retail ventures, our store downtown LA at 1057 S Main St., and our pop up shop for the month of March at 8366 1/2 West Third Street.
Your previous work experience includes working for two very big names in American clothing: Levi’s and Ralph Lauren, what took you into the vintage world or was it hand and hand with what you’ve always done?
I was very lucky and blessed to be given the opportunities to work with two iconic American brands like Levi Strauss and Ralph Lauren, and I do think both of those companies rely heavily on historical elements of American culture and fashion for seasonal inspiration and branding alike, so in a way, living and working in both of those brands introduce you to vintage clothing, furniture, art, decor and objects on a daily basis. However, both of those companies are very specific and sometimes narrow in what they will utilize to accentuate their own narratives and branding elements, so it’s refreshing with Lot, Stock & Barrel to really dive deep into concepts and have complete freedom to express whatever we feel is culturally stimulating: whether it be literature, film or music, and correspond that story with interesting vintage product.
Do you feel like your website is curated with brands in mind: inspirational magazines, themed stories, LOTS, etc., etc.?
I think we’re trying to create what the Lot, Stock & Barrel sensibility is. Personally I get inspired a majority of the time by music or film, and I wear that a bit on my sleeve as apparent on the website. For our ‘Last Tango In Topanga’ collection, we headline the curation with a line from Dennis Wilson. We’re also about working and creating with like minded artists, craftsmen and designers that we find inspiring. Right now we have a feature on our friends Chain Gang from East LA on the website, and we’ve collaborated on a collection of vintage award sweaters and letterman jackets with authentic chain stitch and chenille patches featuring our beloved mascot Elsby character. There has always been a strange gap in the online marketplace that vintage dealers have basically neglected, and we’re about changing that.
You have a great video of Tommy D on your site, where did you meet Chain Gang and come to work with them?
We met Tommy and the Chain Gang crew through a mutual friend. We all have ties to motorcycle culture in and around LA, and Tommy and his team have been making patches for bike and car clubs for years. I had admired their work for sometime and was really happy to have finally been introduced to Tommy, Tul and Ed and the rest is history! We’re continuing to create some exciting pieces using deadstock materials and vintage pieces which will hopefully be up on the web sooner than later.
What’s your favorite vintage find or most prized piece?
I think I love my collection of old Harley Dealership tee shirts and motorcycle club shirts complete with highly questionable copy and design content. There was that amazing sweet spot in the early `70s where there was literally no rules in what Harley dealerships could say on a tee shirt and use the HD logo.
And fave vintage dealers/ stores or markets for picking up treasures?
I like Stock Vintage in New York in terms of vintage retail. Melissa does a good job there. Mister Freedom is always fun, but I miss a lot of the guys who used to work there. We could literally be sitting amongst one of the largest curated vintage collections in the world and completely ignore it and choose to focus on fantasy football lineups instead. Wolfs Head in Japan is the best though. I’ve been there once and it’s all I think about.
You have a particular love for and knowledge of denim, why is this?
I do love denim, although in no way am I an expert. I think like anything else, I grew up wearing denim, so I have a functional and emotional attachment to it. It’s a very hip thing in the industry to romanticism about how we all grew up as kids wearing rigid 501’s until they wore thin, and then patching them until they wore to shreds, but I don’t remember this at all! I remember getting some generic, horrible marbly, open end, cheesy wash development jean that probably had half an elastic waistband. If you see me wearing nice denim nowadays (i.e. Iron Heart) I swear it’s not a cool factor thing! It’s because I’ve never had any nice jeans as a kid so now as an adult I can have a pair.
You showed at the Liberty trade show in Vegas recently, how did that go and did you meet some interesting people/ gain some clients or fans?
Showing at Liberty was an excellent platform for us to officially launch the website, and also showcase some of our most exciting vintage pieces and accessories. We’re continuing our relationship with Liberty fairs this month which is why Lot Stock and Barrel is currently showing out of their concept space at 8366 1/2 W. Third St. in Los Angeles. A lot of industry types complain about trade fairs, and being in Las Vegas, and meeting buyers/retailers, clients, writing orders, drop ships etc….But we couldn’t have had a better time. There’s so many young and talented designers and companies out there trying to re-establish what it means to go to market in modern times; from story telling, manufacturing, design and distribution.
I think it’s gratifying to see young and talented brands with a purpose and truly stand for something, whether it be garment construction, functionality, story telling, or community. There’s too many brands out there selling themselves on the market with false pretence. Lot, Stock and Barrel also showcased with our amazingly talented bike builder friend Kosuke Saito from Sunrise Cycles who we will be working with in the future, and we saw a brand using images of a motorcycle that was built by one of his friends, yet they had no permission to use the bikes image or likeness, nor did the company have anything to do with Motorcycle culture! This practice is insane to me. I sincerely question how people are being placed in creative director roles at large companies and are responsible for a brands identity in the marketplace and recklessly exploit cultures that people pour their lives into, to at the end of a day sell a tee shirt or a pair of jeans so they can make their bonuses. It’s definitely great to see young brands taking a stand and getting the opportunity to have a platform to share their stories and visions.
And what are your plans for Lot, Stock And Barrel over the coming months and years?
We plan on continuing to provide engaging story telling on the web and showcasing interesting and unique vintage goods for a global market. We have plans to develop a platform for talented creatives to showcase their private collections and goods in an auction format in the near future. This will consist of auctions focusing on vintage art, furniture, garments, guitars, motorcycles, and beyond. We’re working with some interesting partners to get this portion of our web platform off the ground.
We will also be curating our downtown Los Angeles shop on a month to month basis, so we’ll always have a physical location to see what the Lot, Stock and Barrel crew are working on or collecting.
If you’re in LA, go and visit their permanent store at 1057 S Main St., or their pop up shop for the month of March at 8366 1/2 West Third Street.
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