July's Portland Style Council Interview is with Nick Mattos.
Nick is the CEM/Publicist for the Red Light Clothing Exchange.
-How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
My addiction started when I was sixteen and living in Sebastopol, CA. It was a very small town, and for a young disaffected guy there was absolutely nothing to do. One day, I found the local VNA Home Hospice thrift store (one of two clothing stores in town at that point!) and within a year I had bought myself virtually an entire wardrobe in vintage clothing!
-What got you into vintage clothing?
I come from a very style-conscious family, as my mother was a buyer for a notable San Francisco boutique in the late seventies. She taught me to shop carefully, with an eye for unique finds, and to cultivate my own style. Vintage shopping is the culmination of this - one is forced to shift through all sorts of dross to find the right garments, and is completely freed from the "looks" imposed by the corporate fashion establishment.
-What are your favorite eras of clothing ?
Western wear from the old school of Nashville country, anything that captures the 1950s beatnik aesthetic, the slightly Indian influences of the 1960s British invasion, the opulent young fashions of the 1920s, and military dress uniforms of any era!
-What do you like about clothing from these eras?
I tend to be a bit polar about what I like in men's fashion - it either has to be very simple, tailored, and classic, or it has to be over-the-top ostentatious. Of course, there is a middle ground; this is why I've held on to my knee-length smoking jacket for this long.
-Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
This is a tricky question for me, as my favorite vintage garments have always been nameless. However, Portland is incredibly lucky to have Duchess Clothier here in town, as there is no better place to get a custom vintage-style suit.
-Who are some of your favorite modern designers?
In terms of the big names: Anna Sui, Hedi Slimane, Hussein Chalayan, Miuccia Prada, and Vivienne Westwood. Talking locally, I recently came across a collection by a young designer named Chelsea Miles that is just astonishing.
-What would be your ultimate vintage find?
The Shroud of Turin! Aside from that, any sort of Masonic ritual clothing. What's sexier than secret fraternal orders?
-Where do you do the majority of your vintage shopping- garage, estate and rummage sales, thrift stores, online vintage stores or eBay?
I would say it's a 60/40 split between thrift stores and vintage stores. My favorite thrift places in town are Desert Industries out on SE 82nd and the Goodwill Bins in the SE. As for vintage stores, I think Red Light Clothing Exchange is the best, but I'm a little biased. I've had poor luck at estate and rummage sales in Portland, but in other parts of the country they can be amazing - also, as harsh as it sounds, the bereaved are very easy to haggle prices with.
-Who are some of your favorite style icons?
American pioneers on the frontier from 1825-1900, Steve McQueen, JackKerouac, the unnamed men and women who made their families clothing during the Great Depression, Johnny Cash, and my friend Ryan Jarvis.
-What are your favorite vintage movies, music and television programs?
Donovan! I put on Hurdy Gurdy Man at least once a week. Pierrot Le Fou, Un Homme et Un Femme, and Les Biches are movies that to me epitomize French style from le generation perdu. Also, are we old enough that The Facts of Life or Mama's Family count as vintage yet?
-Do you collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
At one point I had a formidable collection of vintage Jehovah's Witnesses books from the 1950s. I also once collected knick knacks with owl motifs, but then lived with an amazing girl whose owl collection dwarfed mine and gave almost all of them to her. Nowadays, I'm focused on the clothes - however, if I was in a thrift store and happened upon a vintage illustration from the Book of Mormon, I'd probably swoon.
*Thanks to Nick for answering our Style Council interview questions!
You too could be featured on Lulu's Vintage Style Council!
Just email me- lulusvintage (at) yahoo.com a photo of yourself wearing vintage (it can be a modern outfit accented with vintage accessories or a complete vintage ensemble) and answer my interview questions
This post was originally published on July 7, 2008.