Billykirk are running a revivalist operation – sort of like the folks from Rising Sun, who we profiled in our first episode. Not recreating objects from the past, but recreating a spirit from the past – a spirit of quality and craftsmanship. These guys seem to have a wonderful understanding of the idea of making something, both in construction and aesthetics, that lasts for generations and isn’t made to be thrown away. Something that, rather than wearing out, patinates. Gets better.
My mother is a college professor, but in her free time, she’s a sort of part-time antiques dealer. Something I learned from her is that it’s never a mistake to spend money on an object that will gain value rather than lose it. Whether the value is utilitarian, aesthetic or monetary. That’s why I buy so much of my clothing second-hand, and that I almost never buy new furniture. If you have something special, it doesn’t get used up, it gets worn in. It gets richer.
A glance at Billykirk’s stockists makes it clear that these guys are making something for the fashion world, but they’re also making something that will outlast fashion. This bag costs a pretty penny, but will its usefulness outlast three similar bags made of Nylon in China? Certainly so. And their beauty is utilitarian, not filigreed. Their aesthetics are built to last. And I feel strongly that whether or not you can afford it to buy it, you can appreciate it and learn from it.
The man behind the beautiful tumblr The Impossible Cool got upset with me the other day about this post, about Billykirk’s collaboration with J. Crew, a beautiful wool-and-leather trilby. I wrote that it was designed by fashion types, sold by a mass-market retailer, and would likely be purchased by numerous douchebags. (Did you see the episode of The Office where Ryan wore a trilby inside the whole day?) I also said it was lovely, which it is.
I think Sean thought I meant that people who bought the hat were douchebags – in fact, if I had the money sitting around and access to a fancy men’s J. Crew, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I felt awful about leaving that impression, and apologized profusely for being unclear (we’re cool now).
My true point was that we’re lucky to be living in a moment where quality and timelessness are not just occasional byproducts, but actual goals of creating a piece for Barney’s or Bloomingdale’s… or even for J. Crew! And that whatever your cultural biases are – whether you hate the idea of fashion, or you hate the idea of mass-market retail, or you hate the idea of not standing out from the guy in the club who’s following the former two… you shouldn’t let any of that get between you and something that will bring beauty to your life for many, many years.
Which, from what I can tell, is what Billykirk are shooting for.
(video, by the way, is from The Scout)