New collections come and go, but in the end, nothing feels as good as the timelessness of vintage. The Society Archive, a stylist-curated retailer of rare vintage finds from fashion and accessories to books and art, opened its by-appointment showroom during New York Fashion Week, and it seemed to be the most truly exciting event during these hectic couple of days. But The Society Archive isn’t just about selling vintage. The brainchild of the runway and editorial stylist Marcus Allen, the brand weaves a complex narrative capturing moments of past youth – the result being an extremely covetable time capsule of seasonally curated selections of vintage and ephemera paired with a curated edit of must-haves from The Society Archive’s capsule collection of designs. Hard-to-find pieces from pretty much every decade are hand-selected and styled together with a couple of in-house designed essentials, creating a cohesive collection. According to this Vogue feature, Allen especially has a long history with Abercrombie & Fitch. The stylist estimates he has more than 1,000 items, some of which date back to the 1960s. Allen worked at the infamous “all-American” mall brand when he was in high school in a small town outside of Boston. But his obsession boils down to the quality of yesteryear Abercrombie & Fitch, not its ethos that’s promoted today. “The technical and fleece vests are all Patagonia-level quality,” he says. “All of the distressing and vintage details are super authentic and not contrived-feeling at all.” Allen is not the only collector; there is a community of Abercrombie & Fitch archivists in Japan, which is primarily where he gets his pieces. “While runways were informing what mall brands were doing design-wise, they – A&F, etc. – were not skimping on the quality of the pieces.” He makes the comparison with a pair of jeans. “I have 5-pocket leather Gap bootcut jeans that are the same exact quality and cut of a pair of Tom Ford-era Gucci ones,” he says. And as a testament to the quality, currently, Allen keeps the first piece he ever bought, a multi-color striped Shetland wool sweater in his freezer.
So, what can you get from The Society Archive’s current capsule? First of all, some big styling ideas for autumn season – the look-book photos are just too inspiring! There’s The Face’s iconic issue 22 featuring Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day. A vintage Banana Republic t-shirt which has the best imaginable fit. A couple of 1960s flannel shirts – to die for. Maybe a classic, over-sized A&F hoodie? I certainly need these beige snow pants, like now.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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