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Updated Vintage Cotton Jamaica Dress

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cotton Jamaica Dress

MobShop is working exclusively in vintage this season to find and update great vintage pieces… Check out some of the styles we worked on!

This cotton tube dress was an odd length when we found it, so we hemmed it to a more modern length and it was totally transformed. Sometimes something so simple can totally change the impact of a piece!

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Written by mobshopblog

October 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Updated Vintage Polyester Blush Dress

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Polyester Blush Dress

Such a pretty dress! We wanted to maintain the feminine integrity of this design when we updated it; hemming from mid-calf to above the knee.

Written by mobshopblog

October 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Updated Vintage 1960’s Print Dress

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1960's Print Dress

This Dress had long, nerdy sleeves and fell to just above the ankles originally. But the fabric is so amazing and soft, and the print is classic 1960’s. We tailored the dress to have little cap sleeves and shortened it to a more modern length.

Written by mobshopblog

October 28, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Al’s Attire

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I’ll never forget the first time I walked into Al’s Attire.  A relatively new resident of San Francisco, I was still in the process of uncovering many of the city’s hidden gems, and  Al’s is definitely one of these gems.  Tucked away on Grant St. near Cafe Trieste and Vesuvio, the shop hums with the unique energy one expects to find in North Beach.

A long time collector of vintage clothes, I was first wowed by the shop’s appearance.  The window display and scattered dress forms featured unique custom-tailored pieces, many recalling updated and re-designed versions of classic wardrobe pieces spanning the late 1800s to present. English hacking coats, pencil skirts, cashmere berets, ’50s style sun dresses, and wingtip boots are but a few of the treasures I came across as I worked my way through the racks.  Looking up, the rafters of the store were packed with stacks of vintage hat boxes and mounds of gorgeous fabric bolts.  Under my feet, the well worn planks of the hardwood floor suggested that Al’s was more of an institution than a shop in North Beach.

And then there is the constant parade of customers: local beat cops needing their work caps stretched, neighbors wanting a piece of clothing altered or shoes re-soled, tourists taking pictures and asking questions, excited brides designing their wedding gowns.  I took it all in and knew I had stumbled upon something special.

Then, there’s Al.  Sincere and personable, this eccentric designer and his loyal staff provide the final dramatic flurry to the vibe of this shop.  Al, a native San Franciscan, opened his first shop in the ’80s.  The Taming of the Shoe, located in SF’s mission district, allowed him to refine his shoe-making skills.  He also at one time owned numerous vintage stores around town and did wardrobing (primarily costumes and shoes) for San Francisco’s theater companies.

Contrary to my assumption that Al’s Attire has been around forever, the North Beach shop has only been open about ten years.  In the beginning it was a more sparsely filled space, housing only a few sewing machines, local sewers, bolts of fabric, and clothing racks.

Al’s concept: Locally-made, beautifully-constructed, hand-tailored clothing.  Al doesn’t really enjoy the term vintage associated with his designs.  And the closer I looked, the better I understood why.  It’s the construction, not the era, that defines his collections.

Personalized hand-stitched labels, hidden stitching details on the underside of each coat collar, custom tailoring of each garment sold; these are unique elements you just don’t see anymore in ready-to-wear, factory produced clothing.  They are also the anal-retentive signatures of a designer obsessed with minute details like the angle and color of a single button hole.  Perhaps that’s why his designs seem vintage-inspired; local in-house design and production is a nearly extinct craft borrowing on the long forgotten practices of cobblers and tailors from a bygone era.

fashion’s reckoning

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By Neilah Meyers

Kinetic versus static, transgressive versus successive, the sublime versus the beautiful are distinctions that appear in any deconstructive analysis of an art form. There exists a reckoning in the fashion world regarding integrity of design and point of inspiration where the innovation of past trends are paramount. A vintage piece, for example, cannot simply be reconstructed but must be reinvented in its execution: whether translated through a new print, altering of the silhouette, or augmenting the piece in some distinguishable way; it must represent a new signature.

Some facets of this progression become iconic… its presence within a collection or individual piece invokes a definitive approach that the designer utilizes for a greater effect. To illustrate this point, the use of the stud proves an interesting evaluation. By examining the literal elements of the creative process (i.e. the materials used to compose the work) it can often illuminate parts of the process critical to the overall success of a piece.

The following briefly examines the progression, appropriation and the most outstanding implementations of the stud within contemporary collections. Also,  how innovative executions of this design detail has found its niche in both high-end and mass culture aesthetics alike.

Hermes has integrated the stud in “The Cuff” and “Medor watch,” permanent collection pieces that are among the most popular and identifiable accessories of the design house. Burberry brought it home with their creation on the studded jacket from in their A/W 08 collection: The exaggerated proportion and liberal application created a bold and stunning interpretation. The stud also begs for its Punk presence, the iconic detail seen (everywhere) embellishing every possible surface area on belts and leather jackets. But if innovation remains the emphasis here, the custom tuxedo jacket  by Victor & Rolf (seen below) takes the cake.

The lapel is a literal, three dimensional representation of the stud, flawlessly constructed from bonded silk against wool. The collection as a whole beautifully maintained its direction: Pieces that deceptively allude to three-dimensional shapes, as well as sculptural pieces that define the designer’s inherent style and undeniable talent.

But the interesting evolution of this design principle, extends even further in the context of its successful execution in the realm of mass production. The stud, when done right, is timeless; and now thanks to the internet, exposure to high-end design and immediacy of online outlets, allows consumers to search for the pieces that excite their sensibilities and still maintain the integrity of great design. No longer can a store entice on low price-points alone, but now must hold themselves to a higher standard in what they represent, while simultaneously being as competitive with the high-end deals on Ebay or Zara’s lightening turn-around of this seasons dominant trends.

“When masses can consume [great designs] that are made well it’s a positive: Great design should not be limited to one socioeconomic status and most importantly, it doesn’t have to be. The positive effects go even further here as it keeps designers on their toes to create true works of art – that can’t be so easily replicated because they are such a unique representation of their individual talent.”

This “egalitarian” approach to fashion has become the mark of the true innovators and talent in the industry, those who embrace the contemporaneity of the industry in which they create understand this evolution. The mainstream of fashion is no longer exclusive, but is now accessible, thanks to production conscious (i.e. cost conscious production/infrastructures) and outlets whose reputation depends on the quality of the work they represent to maintain a sophisticated and design-savvy clientele.

Stunning results of which are seen in Annie Costello Brown’s Copper Charm Necklace (an exclusive design for Des Kohan, $235) or the Wide Leather Studded Belt (MobShop $65) that take inspired and stunning execution of covet-worthy pieces to budget-conscious shoppers.

There is really no end to this tangential perspective on a very small cog in the fashion wheel –

Hopefully the montage of these great pieces, seen above, are good eye-candy and the knowledge that brilliant, innovative design has been appropriated for the fashion-obsessed, “champagne taste on a beer budget” demographic (I occupy) serves as a refreshing reality.

[collages by Mirren Gordon-Crozier]