Lifestyle, When Life imitates Style: Vintage legend and friend of The Bearded Man, Zip Stevenson from HTC sent him an article entitled “An Uneasy Heritage” by Harry Sheff in MR magazine. It was about the argument of “Heritage” and what it means to the people that do it for a living versus the ones that are inspired by it for style or creative expression. Harry Sheff writes “It seems to me that we’re all craving a sense of order and purpose and tradition. In America, we tend to dismiss our traditions as soon as they’re inconvenient, only to scramble to reclaim them when it’s too late”. A few years ago an interesting thing happened. We posted a shot of The Bearded Man wearing a naval jacket, a reader responded furiously about how he was insulted at the idea of a “civilian” who did not earn the jacket, sporting the jacket.
A few weeks ago something sparked us to start a conversation around a jacket that is being sold in our vintage section. The Bearded Man called a few of his college buddies, several Alphas, a Delta & an Alpha Kappa Alpha to ask them their take on the topic. Many replied that the jacket should only be sold to someone who has earned the right to wear those Greek letters. However, some also understood and expressed that they hoped the jacket would fall in the hands of someone who was not going to impersonate an ALpha but research the organization. Our answer, it is a piece of history and our responsibility is to present it, pass it on and maintain its value. Maybe the jacket should have been posted with all its historical significance, some background of how we obtained it and why The Bearded Man had it in his collection. Maybe the same should apply for designers who use camouflage, kinte prints, ethnic prints or anything with cultural or historical significance in their designs.
This discussion will continue for the next 100 years or 1000 years to say the least. Take a minute and look in your closet. I am sure you own something based directly or indirectly on someone’s lifestyle, which would give them the right to question why you are wearing it and if you earned it. Need some examples? Let’s start with the belt or sneakers from your favorite luxury brand that was not designed with your income bracket in mind. The motorcycle jacket designed to save a biker’s skin from road rash in case of an accident. Or the official team Jersey or the construction boots worn in the 90′s by more civilians than construction workers.
With that said, we won’t carry on for too long, the soap box is about to collapse, we’ll leave the floor for you to express your take on the topic. What’s the topic? Should you be questioned for wearing an article of clothing that is a representation of someone’s culture, Fraternity, Club or heritage as an expression of style or creativity. It’s all very touchy stuff, but we think it’s worth some exploring. Please note, if you choose to comment on the subject, you have to respect the grounds. Be thoughtful, be considerate and please refrain from any angry comments-Try, please try!.
Alpha Phi Alpha Basketball Team,1926 Photographed By James Van Der Zee || Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity,1921
The vintage jacket as presented on The Brooklyn Circus online shop
Military helmet patterns from “Disruptive Material Pattern” by Hardy Bleachman || Army Navy Stores Catalog 1900
Above: Camouflage buckle back pants by Striver’s Row || vintage Motorcycle Jacket
Below: This season Roberto Cavalli, Burberry Prorsum, John Galliano and Lanvin have all integrated Ethnic elements into their collections.
Our thoughts: When you disagree with something, use it as an opportunity to educate the next person about your perspective. Offer them a piece of literature not an ear full. If it seams like we are all over the place with this post, you are correct. Why? because the topic can go in so many different directions, but we hope it serves as a spring board not to restrict our creativity but to explore other cultures or subcultures through our creative thoughts. Of course with the utmost respect for customs, traditions and the people who live these cultures and subcultures.