The Garmsman Dozen #21: John B from the UK/USA

Welcome to the anniversary 21st instalment of the “Garmsman Dozen” question and answer session.  Did you miss earlier ones? There are links at the end of the page.

This week we extend a warm welcome to John B from the UK/USA!

Who are you, where do you live and what interests you?

John B, Brooklyn, 50

Instagram: johnbbrooklyn

I grew up in the United Kingdom and spent the first 25 years of my life there. I moved to the United States when I was 25. I have subsequently lived in Sydney, Australia Toronto, Canada, Los Angeles, California and the for the last 20 years Brooklyn, New York City. I enjoy travel, music and my dogs. I collect eyewear & have an extensive collection that dates back through the 1900s to present with my favourite period being the 1960s. My passion for menswear often finds ‘caught between two shores’ but more on this later…

Thinking back to your childhood, what were your most memorable or favourite clothes?

My earliest memory of it was my obsession with an ‘Action Man’ T-shirt at the age of five or six. I’m still a kid that likes to play dress-up

How would you describe your style today, and what are your influences?

Growing up in the UK but moving to the US has shaped my choices. The 60s British Mod and the American Cowboy co-exist in my wardrobe precisely because of my equal fascination with both.  My (style) heroes are diverse — from Michael Caine’s Alfie to Steve McQueen’s Nevada Smith or James Dean’s Jet Rink.  These archetypal men have informed my choices since I was a young man developing my own style, and the fun has always been in the puzzle of pairing different influences  — and even functions — that feel authentically satisfying and makes sense for the day ahead.

How do you think others would describe your style and garments, do you get any reaction from friends and random strangers?

I was once voted ‘Best dressed’ at start up I worked at in Silicon Valley. Suffice to say the competition wasn’t that high as hoodies and flip-flops were standard-issue for many folks.

When looking for clothes, what factors play into your selections?

Brands are not really that important unless I know what they stand for and it resonates (and I do have a couple of favourites). Beyond the initial rush of seeing something well made & desirable. It’s the ideas and people behind them that generally hold my interest. I generally ask myself, Is what they are doing special, unique and best in class. I do believe Its worth the effort to find, support and where possible get to know the makers that believe in this too.

When putting together an outfit combination, do you spend a lot of time considering it?

I generally don’t put a lot of time into putting together an outfit combination but I do greatly enjoy the process of selection and usually make very quick deliberation. My goal is always to dress appropriately for the day ahead and I love a good piece of functional clothing. I have amassed a pretty large wardrobe over the last 25 years and I like to challenge myself to wear at it all in different ways. It gives me pleasure to find an old shirt I may have picked up years ago and put it together with something I picked up in a recent season. Finding new combinations and mixing different genres of clothing & function satisfies me enormously.

Most garmsmen will have a few “grail items” in their collection. Not to out you, but if your house is burning, which garments do you grab?

If my house was on fire I’d grab much as possible of my Mister Freedom collection which I’ve amassed over the last eleven years. If I had to grab only two or three items it would probably be my original Mulholland Master jacket, my liberty issue CPO shirt and of course my Road Champ boots.

Having a large collection of clothes can lead to changing outfit on a daily basis, but if you were going to wear a single outfit for the next two weeks, what would it be?

I recently made a conscious effort to wear in a particular pair of jeans that I bought back in October and I have successfully worn them every day for three months now (a personal record for me) so I would start with them. I’m a big fan of engineer boots so I’d probably put my Road Champ boots as I particularly like the ease of on and off during the winter months & the boots are super comfortable. My shirt collection is a sea of indigo blue so I probably pick a nice fitting twill or flannel shirt. Given the harsh New York winter months, I would definitely grab my leather pea coat or Arctic parka with a watch cap and a good pair of gloves in the pocket.

What would you never wear?

Skinny jeans, crocs or a thong.

What are your best tips for buying?

Be thoughtful about what you buy, understand how it’s made, what it’s made from and who makes it.

Anyone that buys clothes will have made mistakes, what is your most memorable bad buy?

As a young man in my twenties, I once bought a pair of leather jeans. I was successfully able to pass them on to my girlfriend several years later.

Suffice to say they looked much better on her.

Do you have any style icons, historic or current?

Christophe Lorion who designs under the Mister Freedom label. Over the last 12 years, Christophe has shared his incredible knowledge of menswear, it’s history and historical reference points. During that time, he has catalogued over a century of menswear through small capsule collections of clothing that have covered everything from the french gangsters of the 1920s to the action men of the 1970s. Christophe never follows trends nor has he just replicated archival pieces of clothing rather he has reimagined and created wonderful pieces of clothing that could have existed at any point in his well documented and researched catalogue of storied collections. e has created some new classics along the way and I am always excited to see what he does next. He has very few peers and is a really talented arbiter of style.

Who are your favourite Instagram profiles?

Does your interest in clothes influence other aspects of your life?

Yes. A recent trip to Japan was definitely inspired by my fascination with their country, style, manufacturing and sensibilities. It ended up being my favourite place I have ever visited I also travel to Los Angeles every year to attend a show called ‘Inspiration’ which is one of the largest gatherings of vintage clothing aficionados in the world. Learning about vintage clothing and its place in time from experts is definitely one of the highlights of the sartorial year.

If your clothes need repairs or alterations, do you do it yourself?

I would like to learn to do this but alas do not have the patience, skills or time presently.

Thank you, John!

1 Comment

  • Paul Boileau 28/01/2020 at 16:29

    Interesting post. Coordinating hair colour and dog coats is next level sh@t: well done John!


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