TALKING ABOUT ARCHIVES Vol.31
New perspectives born from the archive (Part 2)
From high fashion to street brands, the fashion world these days is inseparable from the concept of the ‘archive’. The genre we call the archive isn’t limited to just fashion, but includes everything from everyday items to daily necessities. In this instalment, we bring you a dialogue between Motofumi “POGGY” Kogi and the owner of JANTIQUES, Hitoshi Uchida, located in Naka-Meguro; they sell not only second-hand clothes but also everything from furniture to everyday items. From this conversation, you will be able to further your understanding of the connection between fashion and the archive.
--- Let’s move on to hear you talk about the items that you’ve brought with you today to introduce to us. Firstly, can you tell us something about this key?
Uchida: “This kind of old key is, to be honest, a piece of useless garbage.”
--- True, the original intent behind the item has completely been lost.
Uchida: “That’s what’s interesting to me. For me, one of my roots is trying to find out how to introduce things to people that they seemingly don’t really need. There’s all kinds of keys out there. Keys used for clocks, to lock doors, I even have some from the European Middle Ages. One of them cost me 250 dollars. I also have the key to a Ford car from the twenties.”
POGGY: “You’re right, it does say Ford!”
Uchida: “This is also a key in the strict definition of the word, but this one was made by hand. This one opens when you match up the letters, but I don’t actually use it as a key in itself. It opens when you enter PETZ, which I think refers to those PEZ candies we used to eat when we were kids. Hand-made, or even hand-written items, second-hand clothes and furniture, all kinds of items, it doesn’t matter what, I want to be able to introduce customers to the quality of unique items”
--- Unique items always have a story of their own to tell, right?
Uchida: “It’s not just keys, also items that used to have an intended purpose can be repurposed in all kinds of different contexts. I did a lot of experimenting around the theme of why we manage to find these items valuable. Sometimes, a customer appears who has the same sense as I do in enjoying an item, which is very interesting. I think that’s where my store different a lot from other second-hand clothing stores. I’m just waiting for that one person to find an item that they enjoy.”
--- Waiting for someone that finds purpose in an item that many other people would find useless, that’s a really interesting stance to take.
Uchida: “The same goes for clothing, I think. That’s also what I want my customers to take away from their visit.”
--- That’s also connected with choosing what to buy on your own, right?
Uchida: “That’s right!”
POGGY “That’s a cute globe, so small. It could work well in a children’s room.”
Uchida: “I have a habit of collecting globes. I can just keep staring at them for a long time. They don’t have to be vintage items; I just want to have a daily life where I can live looking at globes. I look at them thinking ‘I want to go here, but also over there’. Ever since I was a child, travelling across the world has been a theme for me, it’s part of my roots. When I started JANTIQUES, I made a system where I would go buying new items in a lot of countries as to not get bored. I’m sorry, but this is a personal item. It’s probably about a hundred years old. It would look cute on a desk, right?”
--- You talked a bit about it just now, but do you have a regular plan of where you go buying new items for JANTIQUES? Or do you just leave on your own timing whenever you feel like it?
Uchida: “I do it for a living, so of course my yearly schedule is kind of limited. I plan my trips from place to place, like in this period I’ll go to New York, then to LA, then to London, but sometimes I feel like doing something new and just go buying without any plans at all, it depends.”
POGGY: “But items like these, you don’t find them in America, right?”
Uchida: “Of course.”
POGGY: “So do you also visit Europe, Great Britain once in a while?”
Uchida: “Brands like Turnbull and Asser are of course more available in their home country, so I do go there to buy those.”
POGGY: “You even have a lot of items which still use the old tag.”
Uchida: “I do! They’re more expensive, but I buy them because I like them myself. I have to, to gain more knowledge about these items.”
POGGY: “I bought a shirt from Turnbull and Asser at the store before as well, but I wasn’t really aware of the difference with the old tags with English shirts. English gentlemen have this image of wearing a shirt until it’s all worn down. That’s something I can respect as well, wearing a worn-down shirt inside of a nice suit.”
Uchida: “I also of course went to the actual Turnbull and Asser store while there, but it wasn’t really that interesting. I did buy some underwear. I bought some Sea Island Cotton underwear, which was really expensive, but I’m really happy with my purchase.”
POGGY: “Turnbull’s trunks? I use them a lot as well”
Uchida: “They’re great, but still so expensive.”
POGGY: “That’s so true…”
Uchida: “Compared to normal cotton, it feels completely different, it’s just so good. My go-to brand up until then had been Brooks, but I changed my mind later on.”
POGGY: “Still, the price! But when I think about it, JANTIQUES’ buying must be really difficult, definitely. I’m not that knowledgeable about this field of second-hand clothes but even I can understand it must take a lot of effort.”
--- Next is this bath towel.
Uchida: “You’re probably used to seeing graphic designs for T-shirts, but this is one printed on a bath towel.”
POGGY: “NO PARKING?”
Uchida: “Yes. In my opinion, these are the kinds of towels that people on the beach in Santa Cruz would be using, the ladies walking on the sand, the guys riding their cars looking for a place to park, probably around the seventies. Just the big American cars, the gaudy parasols, they all coincide with this idea that not only T-shirts can have graphic designs. So bath towels. I brought two to make it easier to show. Aren’t they interesting? They’re pretty thin, so maybe at the time these were considered to be bad quality.”
POGGY: “It’s cotton, after all. These days a lot of the towels with prints are made from polyester.”
Uchida: “You have this kind of towel you always see, the one that says ‘something something Industries”, it’s similar to that. Towels aren’t really popular, but there’s a lot of variety”
--- Maybe we just need to chance our perspective to see how interesting they are.
Uchida: “That goes for everything of course. There’s a lot of people going out shopping, deciding beforehand what they’re going to buy, but I’m the exact opposite of that.”
--- It’s nice as well to be able to see things freely as well
POGGY: “With corona around, there’s more and more people just buying single items, or opting to buy online instead of going to the physical store, so the trend is moving towards buying one item at a time instead of a coordinated outfit. People don’t go out that much these days without a set reason. So just like Mr. Uchida is saying, if you’re only going out to buy that one item, your creativity starts to drop. I think it’s really important to come to a shop like JANTIQUES, switch off a lot of those unnecessary ideas and start free and anew.”
--- Is this a belt?
Uchida: “It’s not just limited to belts, but while at JANTIQUES we know a lot about American items, I like European items as well and we don’t have a specific genre. If you add more native and tribal-like items to that, you get a pretty good image of what we sell at JANTIQUES. This is an item made by the Native American Hopi people, which is one of our more authentic and traditional items. This item was made with a specific purpose. Having some of these around makes me feel quite relaxed; we have many different things lying around, which is part of the feeling I like to express. For Japan, you have things like Aizome (lavender dyeing) and Sashiko stitching, every country has their own style, which I’d like to introduce to people.”
--- That connects to what you told us at the beginning about wanting to create a store like you just have items lying around in your house. In a living environment, there’s usually all kinds of items laying around from different countries and periods.
Uchida: “When you arrive at the immigration gates at London Heathrow Airport, there’s just so many people from so many different countries there. It almost makes me feel like I’m really ordinary there; if you try to express that feeling through clothes, it’s really calming. You can wear anything you like, that’s basically all there is to it. The blue used here was made by wrapping indigo; I wonder what’s inside this jewel? ; Why is this fringe so long? Looking at the item and trying to understand its charm by thinking about it is definitely part of the deal.”
POGGY: “It’s almost like that book, Cheap Chic!”
--- The final item are these suede overalls and these boots.
Uchida: “The thing about suede is, wearing it creates a new layer of color on top of it; the material is really nice to begin with, but when someone wears it, the stains become a new layer. That’s what I wanted to show here. When you look at the inside it’s obviously suede, but because it has been worn for so long, it’s getting harder to tell which is the inside and which the outside.”
Uchida: “The same goes for denim; the reason why models like 501 became so popular, why they use words like fresh or rigid, is because they change when you wash them. We shouldn’t just think of the state in which we buy the item at 100; the charm of the item is that it can change later to 120 or even 140. It gains extra layers, so to say. There’s a new part on top of the suede, whether that’s the memories or the feelings you have for the item. That to me is the important thing when thinking about vintage. This is originally an overall from the twenties, probably used by people when welding metal. These details are safe even with sparks flying around. It still feels nice when you wear it too. These are things I consider when showing denim items to people, but it goes for a lot of other kinds of second-hand clothing as well.”
POGGY: “There’s this club in Sapporo called Precious Hall, where the legends of house music always come to DJ when they visit Japan; the sound system for this club was based on advice by David Mancuso. The air in Sapporo is much dryer than, say, in Tokyo, so the sounds reverberates really well I hear. There’s a kind of sound you can only hear in Sapporo. Just like that, there’s a difference between leather that has been worn down in LA and items that have been used in Tokyo, a different taste to it.”
Uchida: “Definitely. There’s a difference with European humidity and climate as well.”
POGGY: “That’s one of the things that keeps everything interesting as well.
Uchida: “Yes, the charm of second-hand clothes or even of unique items. Looking at it from that perspective, these boots even have a date written on them.”
--- 1825? That’s almost 200 years ago!
Uchida: “It might’ve come with a strap before… It’s kind of weird that there’s only one layer of leather here, they must’ve been so difficult to wear.”
POGGY: “Yes, it looks like it’d hurt at first.”
Uchida: “This is what I want to introduce to people. I don’t think anyone has really ever laid their eyes on these items. I have another item, probably from around 1900, which has a similar shape. It has been updated in those 100 years and is closer to what you would see Margiela make. The front is fairly narrow and it’s just really fancy.”
--- People that actually buy these items don’t actually wear them, right? It’s mostly for collection purposes, isn’t it?
Uchida: “Mostly, it’s people designing their own shoes. We might actually have a lot of those customers here. I’d love for normal people to also find an item that fits them perfectly and enjoy this store just like designers do. All the items I showed today are tools for these people to become able to judge for themselves what they want for themselves.”
POGGY: “Thank you! I learned a lot today!”
Motofumi “POGGY” Kogi
Born in 1976. Started working part-time at UNITED ARROWS in 1997 and opened his own store, Liquor,woman&tears in 2006 after working for the press for a while. In 2010, he opened a new store called UNITED ARROWS & SONS, where he worked as director. In 2018 he went independent and is gathering attention for his various activities, like working as the fashion director for 2G, a store in the recently renewed Shibuya PARCO building.
Born in Gunma Prefecture in 1969. Worked at Harajuku’s famous second-hand clothing store, Santa Monica, for eighteen years. After going independent for 2005, he opened JANTIQUE in Naka-Meguro selling items not limited to only second-hand clothes, preferring a style pulling from many different parts of the archive, and is known and loved for many people in the industry. In 2019, he opened his second store, JANTIQUE Uchida Shoten in his hometown, Takasaki City in Gunma Prefecture. Starting from March this year, he also started selling his items from JANTIQUE online as well.
Photo_ Shiga Shunsuke
Text_ Maruro Yamashita