Santa Monica Beach, 1936
Santa Monica Beach, 1936
Los Angeles Electrical Workers’ Fashion Show, 1970
Our pal and sometime contributor Noe Montes just told me about Mexicalo, a new menswear brand based here in LA. Their goal is to re-interpret traditional Mexican and Mexican-American aesthetics for the contemporary world, and their first collection looks really tremendous. Above you can see some short-sleeved shirts, one called “Aztec Neon" in colors inspired by the vibrant colors believed to have decorated the Aztec world. Below is one of my favorite designs from the collection: mariachi pants transformed into shorts, for your casual Vicente Fernández-ish days. And I know that if I were a bad-ass 21st century Chicano, I’d be rocking the Not Conquered tee weekends.
It’s turned to summer here in Los Angeles, so I did a quick inventory of my summer hats. One was a bit too tight, and one had a grease spot on the brim. I hopped in the car and headed up to Burbank, and Los Angeles’ only real hat shop, Baron’s.
This being the center of showbiz, Baron’s is probably best known for the hats they’ve made for Hollywood productions - you name a picture shot on the left coast involving hats, and Baron’s probably made them. They also make custom hats for retail customers and block, stretch and clean hats. They’re the only folks in Southern California who provide these services in-house, and one of a handful of shops in the country who do.
They told me they’re working on a big project, so my little projects won’t be ready to go for three or four weeks, but I’m grateful to have a local business who can do the work.
A Visit to B. Black & Sons: The Last Tailor Supplier in Los Angeles
I needed a few buttons for a coat my tailor’s making. He didn’t have any natural ones on hand, so I eagerly volunteered to visit one of my favorite shops in Los Angeles to pick some up: B. Black & Sons.
B. Black is an old-school establishment if ever such a thing there was. In a sea of shops selling cut-rate electronics and baby turtles in plastic terrariums, it’s an island of Los Angeles, circa 1922. Which is when it was founded, by the way.
There are tons of fabric shops in Los Angeles’ garment district, but they’re largely of the sort that features a proprietor claiming a bolt of Chinese polyester is real silk, despite an $8 a yard price tag. B. Black is a tailor’s store. They don’t sell cotton chintz for children’s curtains. They sell men’s fabric. Suiting, stuff for overcoats, a little bit of linen. Plus shoulder pads, shears, zippers and other tailoring essentials.
I walked out with a few fabric remnants that will likely end up as pocket squares in our shop, a set of buttons, and the pictures you see above.
Spent my Sunday morning with my family at the Pasadena City College Flea Market. Don’t always get to arrive as early as you’d like or stay as long when you’re carting around an 18-month-old, but it’s still worth the trip. The clothes are mostly at the Rose Bowl, where you’re elbow-to-elbow with Japanese vintage dealers carting around huge military duffels… but I still came home with a little something.
The sewing blog Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing visited B. Black & Sons, a tailoring supply shop in downtown Los Angeles. It’s one of the very few menswear-oriented fabric shops in the United States, and has an amazing selection of buttons and fittings. It’s really a cool place, celebrating its 90th year in LA.
I was just there, in fact, to buy some trouser waist buckles for my tailor - he didn’t have any on hand for waist adjusters, but I bought a bag for a couple dollars at B. Black & Sons.
(Side note: last time I was at the store, there was actual three-card monty going on outside! What is this, a movie from the sixties about the twenties?)
The Put This On Holiday Sale
Join me (Jesse) and Raul Ojeda of Don Ville Shoes for the Put This On Holiday Sale, Sunday December 9th, noon to five in Los Angeles. We’ll have literally hundreds of Gentlemen’s Association pocket squares for sale, starting at just $20. There are overruns, samples, short runs and one-of-a-kinds. There are even a few squares we made special for the sale from 1920s Japanese silk. Plus we’ll have PTO DVDs for just $10 and specials on Don Ville’s handmade shoes.
Whether you need a holiday gift for a friend, a loved one or yourself… or you just want free beer, stop by and sayhi.
The Put This On Holiday Sale
Sunday, December 9th, Noon to Five
Don Ville Shoes
113 North La Brea between Beverly and First, Los Angeles
A couple of months ago, my barber, Jerry, went into the hospital. It’s happened once or twice since I started visiting him, but all the other times, he was right back at work after a week of recuperation. This time, he wasn’t.
After a month or so of calling the shop and getting a recording, I started worrying. In the past, Jerry’s son has gone into the shop to post a sign and record a message with a status update. I got a haircut elsewhere and fretted.
I just called, shaggy-haired after an unexpectedly long trip to the East Coast, and got the voicemail. It was Jerry, sounding a little tired, announcing that he’d retired.
Jerry was kind and quiet, and he worked at Larchmont Barbershop for more than 55 years. Visiting him was always the highlight of my month.
"Hey, babe. How are you?"
I know Jerry wouldn’t be quitting if it wasn’t important. I wish him all the best in his retirement - he can get a chance to drive his 55-year-old Chevy and spend some time with his wife. I’ll miss him.
Above: our grooming episode, featuring a conversation with Jerry. And if you’re so inclined, here’s a lovely little article about him and his family, who’ve owned the shop since the 50s.
Our friends at Rising Sun, who we featured in our very first episode, are having a very cool-looking party on Saturday night in Los Angeles. It runs from six to nine at 2246 Fair Park Avenue in Eagle Rock. If my past experience with Mike Hodis & Co is any guide, there will be a ton of vintage hot rods and motorbikes, and both men and women in overalls, old leather and applejack caps. Should be a great time.