Review: “The Vintage Showroom – an archive of menswear” by Gunn & Luckett

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Vintage Showroom is a small vintage clothes dealer just by Seven Dials in London. The owners are Doug Gunn and Roy Luckett, and given the number of small vintage clothes shops around the world, or even London, the story could just as well have ended there. Except, Doug and Roy are finders and collectors extraordinaire, so the shop is really just where the surplus finds it’s way.

They also keep a large collection of men’s vintage clothing that is accessible for viewing by collectors, designers and for film and tv use. Part of this was presented in their first book (reviewed here) and I now sit by the roaring fire with their followup tome.Vintage Showroom_Front

And a heft tome it surely is. The hardback edition with it’s 400 illustrations over 300 glossy pages weighs in at a solid 1.95 kilos. If you have read the first edition you’ll know be familiar with the format. Choice pieces from their collection are selected, categorised and delicately photographed, with a descriptive text added to explain key points.

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The categories in this edition are as follows:

  • Aviation & Motorsports
  • Formal Tailoring & Military Uniform
  • Utility & Workwear
  • Sporting & Weatherwear

Each category contains between 20 and 29 garments, so the total number presented is comprehensive. Garments are from a wide ranging period, from the 1850’s through to more recent times. I’d estimate that the bulk of garments are from the 1940’s, much of it army-related. Which is of course where much of menswear finds it’s inspiration.

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The photography throughout is superb, there is no other word for it. The overall views and the details are spot on. As in the first book the selection of garments is for the most part interesting and illustrative. The selection ranges from a vintage straight jacket to a submariner suit, from a bear fur coat to jockey silks. An interesting point is that the condition of the items varies widely, this isn’t a deadstock review. Many of the pieces have extensive wear and damage, which adds to the interest.

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The text is short and to the point, and adds necessary interest. The first book had the ever-present Josh Sims as a co-author and the text in that edition was both longer and more in-depth than in the new book. The factual content is an important part of a book like this, especially if the ambition is for it to be more than a photo documentary.

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In summary, the new book has a great selection of pieces, the photography is superb and the descriptions are passable. It’s not cheap at 35 pounds and while it makes for a couple of sessions of pleasant browsing, I do think the lack of text means it will have a less lasting value than it could have if more effort had been put into the text. As a reference though it is interesting, and it is fun to spot the what has influenced modern garments, or in some cases merely reproduced. Next time, bring Josh back and add more writing!

UPS

  • The photography is impeccable
  • Quality presentation

DOWNS

  • A number of seemingly out of boundary inclusions
  • Even less text than the previous edition
  • A big price for a book that will be mainly browsed once

SCORE

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Retail price 35 pounds.

Available now from the usual places, or direct from the publisher, Laurence King Publishing.

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