For anyone into men’s style who does not favor the herd mentality when it comes to putting together a wardrobe, the rise of the vintage clothing market over the past 10 years has made it easier than ever to shop the good stuff from one’s phone—provided you know where to look.
Vintage has turned those of us with the passion (and the patience) into internet sleuths, seeking out that rare bit of kit with a story all its own. In a climate where even the fashion industry itself has begun to question whether a spiraling dependence on fast fashion and constant newness is actually a good thing, vintage and a taste for the long-lived can only become more relevant.
Sometimes the best vintage needs a different eye and the benefit of distance. Which is why buying vintage Americana in Tokyo, Paris, or Milan is not as crazy an idea as it sounds. It also pays to source your vintage from the experts, like Gauthier Borsarello, multi-tasking renaissance man of the local men’s Paris fashion scene who consults on design with a number of brands,
Borsarello is Editor in Chief and fashion Director for l’Etiquetteim电竞官网- (a French language style magazine whose fourth issue is out imminently) that puts the emphasis firmly on feet-on-the-ground personal style. He is also something of a guru in bloodhounding the best vintage for his all American-made, brick-and-mortar vintage store Le Vif in Paris. Fortunately you don’t have to make the pilgrimage to get access to the goodies. At , you can also buy some of his extensive collection online. This week, the website went fully open to the public with a bunch of new-old pieces, every one of them unique and oozing style. We tracked Gauthier down to ask him to highlight a few faves.
ESQ: Where did you develop a taste for vintage?
GB: It started when I was about 10 years old, when I went to the flea market to find something to wear for a dress up New Year’s Eve party. It was love at first sight. I grew up in a family of six kids, all of us in an environment of classical music, art, and design. The little money we had was devoted to studying, so there was never much left over to be spent on clothing. My father thought fashion was frivolous. He had his own uniform of chinos or Levi's 501s, Paraboot or JM Weston shoes, blue shirt, navy V-neck sweater, and a Barbour. To justify spending money on clothes to my father, I had to find the culture in them. I would go to flea markets to find things that came with their own story.
What draws you to Americana?
im电竞官网-America has a history of making clothing that lasts. On top of that, in France there remains this sense of the exotic in American clothes, a real sense of cool that we picked up on at the end of World War 2 with our first face-to-face exposure to American culture. We have never lost it. Americana caught on, I guess, because fashionable people could dress themselves in army surplus for very little and then they mixed it with their own French style. Americana remains the base of a kind of ideal wardrobe. At the same time, I’m trying to sideline it a little in order to rediscover the codes of home-grown French cool from the 20th century, too.
What does being French add to the mix?
im电竞官网-I think the French perspective adds a little personal finesse to the process. I think in America if you like workwear you can easily do it head to toe. A French guy will not do it so literally; he’ll wear a pair of Alden dress shoes with his herringbone drill pants or a Husbands Paris jacket with a Wrangler denim shirt. For us it’s important to assimilate things into your wardrobe rather than let it take over. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a costume.
How do you find your best pieces? Or is that a secret?
im电竞官网-I buy from everywhere, the only secret is curiosity. My eyes are always open so I will buy on eBay, Etsy, even Instagram; the rest comes from my network of contacts both here in France and of course in America. (OK, that part is secret!)
Who buys your clothes?
im电竞官网-Most of my customers are people in fashion, mostly here in France but also Belgium the UK and America. I’ve always wanted to be the guy operating somewhere between the vintage super nerds on one side and fashionable people on the other who just want to be sure they’re buying something good from someone who knows stuff.
Do you have any strict rules about what constitutes good vintage?
For me a good vintage piece has to have a good visual presence, be well-made and relevant to today’s style. I mean, it needs to look right, on the street, now, in 2020. I always look for pieces that were made in the home country of a brand, or an army, for military pieces. I only buy Nike if it was made in the US, for example, Lacoste only if made in France.
Do you see vintage gaining ground given the unprecedented first six months of 2020?
The fashion industry is a little scared right now because it knows it has to evolve. It’s annoying, after the current crisis, when you see bloggers posting selfies wearing just something that looks pretty and expensive but with nothing much else to recommend it. Clothes should have a meaning, a context to them; you can get creative but they have to be wearable, too. I think they should be made in natural fabrics ideally, and in countries where workers are paid properly and looked after. Bode is a great example of a successful fashion brand whose clothes have a lot of meaning. Of course vintage is important to me but its only half the solution. I think my job is to help people appreciate the best of yesterday. But it’s equally important that brands create the best of today too.
A Few More of Gauthier's Favorites
"Made in France in the 1980s."
"To hang out, with Rondini sandals and a white tee."
"Just add beer and a pool."
"To look like Michael Jordan."