Inspiration L.A


Text and photos By Nick Clements

My Freedamn ‘Inspiration’ Vintage fair, Los Angeles Feb 2010

Rin Tanaka is a real historian. A former journalist for Japanese vintage style magazine: Free and Easy, Mr Tanaka now resides in South Orange County in the heartland of revival surfing, bobber bike and hot rod culture. Searching out some of the finest collections of mid-century clothing and objects in America, the author of the My Freedamn series has managed to document the entire historical catalogue of American motorcycle helmets, leather motorcycle jackets and surfing t-shirts – to name just a few categories of vintage style covered in his books.

Rin Tanaka’s method is simple and effective: track down the desired collections of clothing or objects, photograph them on a white background, research the history of the item and layout by category. Publish book. I use the term simple as if anyone could do it – but NO! This takes weeks, months and years to arrange and produce to the incredibly high standard achieved by Rin and the team who assemble the My Freedamn books. Rin’s work is actually unique and he has been invited by Harley Davidson to search their dusty archives for the most aesthetic and revealing images and items of clothing in the Milwaukee cellars. Please check out his site to see what’s on offer.

Without that little piece of background history it would be hard to imagine how good Rin Tanaka’s latest project, the Inspiration vintage fair, really is. Vintage clothing, surfboard and motorcycle dealers from all over the world had come to talk and trade, to see and sell. The American clothing from the 1940s, 50 and 60s was of the very highest quality I had ever seen all gathered in one place and was like the best Rose Bowl (Pasadena) swap-meet of all time. There was an interesting collection of original single fin, 1970s surfboards and some exciting modern boards with a revival flavour. Glory (Los Angeles) set-up a great booth with some rare leathers and helmets and even Alpine Stars (Italy) had a stand with a new vintage range they are producing with a small collection of boots and jackets.

Liberty Motorwear were selling some superb 1950s racing sweaters and Standard California (Japan) where producing some of the best replica surf wear I’ve seen (although you should check out Yellow Rat too . There was a publications desk with magazines like Dice and Men’s File on offer and an impressive stand selling the My Freedman books. I estimate there were over 80 exhibitors.

This gathering was worth my flight over from London and I will be there again next year. Keep an eye on the My Freedamn website for more information.

Text and photos By Nick Clements



Frank Sider said...

wish i coulda been there. Great post

Fashion Serial Killer said...

holy crap! I'd die if I went there.. my mouth would be open in AWE the whole time..such amazing items!!