You’ve heard it time and time again: some things get better with with age. Inside the cliché, the word better takes on a variety of meanings depending on the context. Does better mean that is has more character — like the fades on a pair of jeans or patina on a leather jacket? Does better mean that it’s more comfortable — like a creased and broken-in pair of boots or well-worn t-shirt? Does better mean that is has more memories attached to it — like a jacket worn on a cross-country road trip or your grandfather’s watch? Whatever the case, better is inherently subjective, as is the value it imbues. To explore the range of meaning within better, we asked the men behind some of New York’s top brands to share their favorite vintage clothing and accessories, and most importantly, the stories behind each.
Todd Snyder, Designer
Suede Cafe Racer Jacket: “I remember finding it in a vintage shop in LA called Mister Freedom. It’s called a cafe racer. A cafe racer is a special type of motorcycle that is meant for speed. Riders loved it because of its sleek design to reduce wind resistance. I fell in love with it because of the patina and chamois color. It’s one of my favorite vintage items.”
Jake Mueser, Owner of J. Mueser Bespoke
’70s Gucci Suit Bag: “This is my favorite vintage Gucci garment bag. I picked it up at an estate sale in Greenwich, Connecticut, about ten years ago. At the time I thought it was a frivolous purchase — but it’s actually the best garment bag I have ever owned. The fabric straps are really comfortable, and it snaps closed and folds in half to easily throw over your shoulder. It’s supposedly from the 1970s, but I think it might be a bit younger. I use it for Pitti Uomo — it’s an easy carry-on and fits two suits, a few shirts, shoes and dopp kit in the front pocket.”
Mike Faherty, Co-Founder of Faherty
Vintage Beacon Blanket: “I’ve been collecting beacon blankets for about ten years. When I was working at RRL, my boss, Cal McGee, had a great collection and I followed his lead. This particular one I picked up from my buddy Jess Tart who has an amazing vintage archive called Orange Crush. Jess is based out in Tacoma, Washington. I made a trip out to visit his warehouse of treasures. Digging through the piles of great stuff, I found this one. I particularly loved the colors and the sun-faded look. I’ve got this blanket hanging in my office, and it always inspires my seasonal color palettes. With a lot of the clothes I design, I look to capture that time-worn look that this blanket has.”
Kent Kilroe, Managing Director at Freemans Sporting Club
Mr. Freedom Mulholland Master Jacket: “I have four kids in Manhattan, so closet space is at a premium in my life. As a result, I only have clothes that I wear often. Probably my favorite piece of clothing is my Mr. Freedom Mulholland Master that I bought from Mr. in LA, in 2009. This thing is a beast. It’s a more rugged American version of the ’60s Barbour International or Belstaff Trailmaster. The Jungle Cloth shell is windproof and because it has a soft corduroy lining, it’s the perfect weight jacket for spring and fall. With a sweater underneath, I wear it through the winter.
“It’s made in Japan, so the quality is amazing, and there are enough pockets and hidden details to more than justify the price. I’m a product person and, at Freemans, we are constantly looking for a balance between style and utility and the Mulholland Master is the perfect combination of the two.”
Bradley Price, Founder of Autodromo
Les Leston “Stirling Moss” Dunlop Racing Suit c.1960: “This suit was made in England circa 1960 by Les Leston — one of the first companies to produce purpose-specific gear for racing drivers. The powder blue “Dunlop” suit is the most iconic piece of racing kit of that time. This suit is an early example of an endorsed product, as it bears Stirling Moss’s name on the tag, and was designed to his specifications. Moss was one of the greatest British drivers ever, and a personal hero of mine.
“As a devotee of racing history, a period racing suit actually worn in the cockpit has that same appeal for me that a combat-worn uniform might have for a military collector. The idea that someone wore this exact article of clothing while doing something very brave and dangerous is what makes it that much more compelling. While this suit was not worn by Moss himself, I still love the wear patterns and stains that show evidence of its use. These suits are exceedingly rare and it took me years of searching before I found this piece. It happens to fit me perfectly.”
Mike Rubin, Creative Director of Krammer & Stoudt
Vintage Native American Bolo Tie: “On my first trip to New Mexico, I bought a bolo tie from a Native American person at the plaza in Santa Fe. It’s the oldest trading and marketplace in the United States, dating back over 400 years to the days of the conquistadors who traveled up from Mexico City looking for the Cities of Gold.
“I bought it because I liked the color of this particular turquoise stone, and the striations in it kind of look like the continents on the globe. I liked the fact that it was not perfectly round but oblong in shape and set in simple silver backing similar to what they now call ‘old pawn,’ for antique pieces of native jewelry that were likely pawned decades ago for quick cash.”
James Chung, CEO of Triple F.A.T. Goose
Father’s Briefcase: “This briefcase was originally my father’s; it was passed down to me at a young age. It brings back memories of another era — a time of classic looks and a traditional work mentality. I always aspired to carry one when I finally started my career. Over time, I’ve developed an affinity for vintage pieces and the memories that they carry. I think that this originally contributed to my desire to bring back Triple F.A.T. Goose — a heritage brand that my father started.
“My own briefcase has become somewhat of a new tradition, gathering its own experiences and memories by the day. As a father, it’s something that I look forward to passing down to my son someday.”
More From The Grails Issue
An exploration of the products in our lives that are so singular, so special and so intensely personal that no others compare. From brand new multi-million-dollar jets to Brazilian rosewood furnishings, these are Grails. Read the Stories