In anticipation of The Vintage Showrooms second publication, Another Man takes a trip into the iconic London treasure trove
"With the items we select, there are definitely pieces that I am more passionate about," explains Douglas Gunn, co-founder of fashion industry treasure trove The Vintage Showroom. "These are the things that I would want to own in my personal collection, just because they are amazing items." Wandering into Gunn's London-based archive of vintage menswear is not dissimilar to entering a museum: there are anti-G Unit suits presented alongside motorcycle jackets, straitjackets sit next to alpaca teddy bear coats. But at The Vintage Showroom, rather than the pieces being preserved exclusively for the archives, they are available to purchase or hire – and its storied selection has served as inspiration for many a contemporary menswear collection, alongside appearing in a phenomenal array of prestigious fashion shoots.
Next month heralds the launch of Gunn and Roy Luckett's second venture into publishing (their first was so successful that it was translated into Italian, Korean and Japanese), with The Vintage Showroom: An Archive of Menswear: a book which presents beautifully-shot imagery of their key items with their strangely fascinating histories. To celebrate its publication – and in honour of what Gunn terms his propensity towards "hoarding" – we present some of his favourite items explored within the pages of his new book, alongside selections from Another Man's Ben Cobb and Ellie Grace Cumming.
Douglas Gunn Selects: A Hardy's Waxed Cotton Fishing Coat, 1930s
"I have a slight obsession with old waxed cotton jackets, and I doubt there is another collection in the world that rivals what we have in terms of old waxed Belstaff's, Barbours and the like. This wax coat made by Hardy's is one of my favourites. Specialising in rods and tackle, they didn't make much in the way of clothing, with this being a particularly rare example. Joe Mckenna recently styled Kanye West in the coat for a Jurgen Teller shoot for T magazine for the NY Times which I really loved."
Douglas Gunn Selects: A Bespoke Leather Motorcycle Coat, 1920s
"This driving coat is simple the best leather piece I have ever seen. The patina is incredible; the previous owner had worn it for 30 consecutive years to the Isle of Man TT races, and it was second hand when he bought it! One of the focuses for the first chapter of the book was looking at the evolution of clothing from the first aviators & aviatrixes, how they influenced the military flight clothing of WW1 and that, in turn, progressed into the first generation of custom-made motorcycle clothing. I really feel this coat sits perfectly within that timeline as amazing example of the first British motorcycle coats."
Douglas Gunn Selects: A Special Boat Service Canoeist Smock, 1950s
"Last – but by no means least – is this SBS smock. I have jealously studied the version that The Imperial War museum have in their collection for years; this is the only other one I have ever seen, and as far as I can tell it is unlikely there is a third out there... but you never know, and if there is then please feel free to give me a call and I will make a pretty good offer on it! To appreciate the piece fully, you have to have in your hand: it's made of ventile fabric, which is a specialist, densely spun cotton originally developed by scientists at the Shirley Institute in Manchester for the military. Through years of contact with water, the smock now has an amazing, peachy-soft feel and you can just make out where it looks like it was once hand-camoflaged."
Ben Cobb Selects: A Teddy Bear Coat, 1930s
"This alpaca coat looks and feels so luxurious – and heavy! It really conjures up the glamour of yesteryear Hollywood: you can imagine some handsome silver screen god, wrapped up in this, sat behind the wheel of his open-top car, zooming past waiting photographers. The stories this coat could probably tell…"
Ben Cobb Selects: A D-pocket Biker Jacket, 1949
"This is the ultimate biker jacket. So simple and iconic. The leather still has such a beautiful quality to it, even after almost 80 years. But the real star of this piece is that amazing, swooping D-shaped pocket – it looks so 70s. The green tartan lining is pretty special too."
Ben Cobb Selects: A Polish Air Force Anti-G Suit, 1965
"There is something brilliantly sci-fi about this 1960s anti-G suit. It reminds me of the amazing desert suits from David Lynch's Dune, like a wearable life support system, a second skin. There is also something strangely punk and a bit fetish about all the exposed zips, piping and draw-strings."
Ellie Grace Cumming Selects: A French Military Hussar's Tunic, 1880s
"The workmanship and detail on this tunic is so fragile, delicate and beautiful that I could look at it for hours. The intricacies and embroideries that were all handmade back then make me wish I lived in another time, when clothes really were fineries."
Ellie Grace Cumming Selects: A Lite Industries, Inc. Heat-Protective Safety Coat, 1960s
"This silver fireman's coat looks like it’s from the future! It’s so stiff and heavy, and the hardware is amazing. After I first noticed it at The Vintage Showroom, I borrowed it and shot it for Re-Edition Magazine... its memory stayed with me as, a few months later, I saw an amazing film at the Turner Contemporary in Margate (at the Risk Exhibition by Simon Faithfull) and it featured an unknown man walking into a burning aircraft wearing one of these coats… and walking straight out the other side..."
Ellie Grace Cumming Selects: A Straitjacket, 1930s
"This 1930s straitjacket looks straight out of the 70s, like Debbie Juvenile, Jordan or Sid Vicious would have fought over who could wear it!"
Pre-order The Vintage Showroom: An Archive of Menswear online now