We never tire of events here in SoCal, especially since we’re so starved when compared to all the other fashion capitals of the world. As February is finally here, it means that it’s time for our favorite (and perhaps only) trade show: Inspiration LA.
I’ve noted plenty of times that my style has changed. From vintage-inspired tailoring to “international classic” and neo-ivy, I’ve finally gotten comfortable in my sartorial choices. However the most drastic transformation has been in my casual style. I had always admired the workwear guys that I would occasionally meet through vintage events, but I never did it for myself. Obviously I liked sportshirts and denim, but they were always done in the realm of tailoring. Over time, I’ve acquired a few nice pieces like more rugged sportshirts, buckleback LVCs, and leather jackets which made it easier for me to try a more vintage casual style. Now it’s become even more an interest, as my tailoring hunger is slowly getting abated.
Now the tailoring world has Pitti; the workwear/vintage casual place has Inspiration LA, which we have gone to a few times before. While small in comparison to most other events (namely Pitti or even Market Week in NYC or Liberty Fairs), it is still a trade show for vintage, leather, denim, and workwear. Enthusiasts, pickers, and buyers a like come to Los Angeles to this gathering that Rin Tanaka created. You can find custom selvedge denim brands, bespoke leather makers, and specialized pickers selling some of the best pieces in the world. And unlike other shows, it’s affordable (free after 3PM on the last day!) and open to the public.
Spencer and I have become more and more immersed in this world, mainly because it’s easier to be casual in Los Angeles. Every time we meet more and more people and even bring our own friends to join in on the fun. This year, the event moved away from The REEF and was held at the Convention Center. A bit of a different vibe (akin to my experiences in the expansive Anime Expo exhibit hall) but still a fun time! I’m glad I was able to go.
The Raggedy Threads Pre-Party
In anticipation of Inspiration, there are always a few parties held by different stores in the days leading up to the event. In the past I’ve never really gone since I didn’t know anyone, but after creating a cool group of guys (like the Gooch Brothers and the LA Menswear Squad) I finally had someone to go with.
On Thursday, I attended a small gathering at Raggedy Threads, a cool vintage-workwear store in Little Tokyo. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite spots, as I’ve found a few things like a 1930’s navy sweater vest. I heavily recommend it if you’re in the area and need something different than the Bloke!
The get together was nice and gave me a chance to exercise my event photography, even after two straight weeks of Dapper Day events at the Phil and LACMA. I came right after work, hence my more sartorial look of my 1940’s full cut flannel suit and my black rayon shirt from Groovin’ High. You could bet that I got Ethan Newton jokes a few times that night!
Inspiration LA 2019
As I noted before, Inspiration is much cheaper on Saturday, so that’s the day we attend. It also helps that most of us are off on on the weekend! Before we went to the convention center, I actually was called up by Joshua Gooch for some portraits. It gave me a chance to document Spencer and my outfits for day, done in some great lighting (courtesy of the giant window of the Wellema Hat Co.)
Man, I really liked this one. It’s moves more firmly into the vintage casual/workwear look than previous Inspiration attire. It’s also infinitely more simple: the menswear beret (I felt a fedora would’ve been a bit too basic), plaid sportshirt, my trusty brown leather double rider, perfectly faded LVC 1945’s, and my Alden shell cordovan boots. I particularly like the brown and green colors of the shirt, and how they interact with the leather jacket and denim; it’s subtle and planted firmly in my favored earth tones.
For the first time, I’ve felt really good about a workwear/vintage-casual outfit. It doesn’t feel like I tried too hard and is definitely a natural extension of my everyday style.
Spencer has a more Japanese tilt for his outfit, combining elements of workwear and ivy all in one! Over the standard blue OCBD and chinos (with white socks and derbies) he adds in a Brown’s Beach-esque reproduction vest and a camo jungle jacket. Mixing elements like this has defined his style lately and he was just itching to show it off at Inspiration.
Now unfortunately, we weren’t able to spend too much time at the event. We got into a very harrowing car accident that pretty much totaled my car after we slid off the road (it was just after the rain in the morning). Luckily no one was hurt, but it definitely affected all of us. In the end, we decided to go the trade show (Scott picked us up and was happy to attend) to get our minds off of the incident. I’m glad we did go even if we had under two hours, because I had a fun time and even copped one of my grails (more on that later). It was also especially interesting since I brought along my high school pals MJ and Scott who appreciate workwear/military and yet haven’t been along to Inspiration in the past!
I apologize if the pictures don’t seem as energetic or interesting as previous ones, but thats just due to my mental state from the accident. I also didn’t get to meet or talk to as many people as I had originally hoped Plus, I’ve heard from a few people that the convention center gave off a different vibe than any previous ones! Still, it was super interesting and I snapped as much as I could with the limited time we had.
The RRL After Party
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Inspiration without the RRL Melrose after party to close the festivities. The guys and I had dinner before hand, so we were a little late but luckily all of our friends were still there! I split my time between taking pictures outside and showing my other friends the wonders of RRL (as they were uninitiated).
You can’t imagine all the inspiration I got from Inspiration (ha)! I saw so many well dressed people and beautiful pieces (both contemporary and vintage). It sucks that this type of thing only happens once a year (unless you count the Rose Bowl Flea Market) but its amazing every time. Like always, I’m glad that I’ve made so many friends and colleagues that I’m able to enjoy it with. I really hope my high school pals also enjoyed themselves, despite it not being the normal thing we do on the weekends.
As other events tend to do, this also marked a cool milestone in my style, namely the casual side. While I do enjoy dressing down on weekends, Inspiration lets me “peacock” a bit and acts as a test, putting together all that I’ve learned from the past year into practice. I’m sure that the next one will be even better!
I better see you guys at inspiration next year! It’s certainly different than the suiting stuff that we’re used to, though we’re starved for that as well here in Los Angeles. I’m not sure if it will be held at the Convention Center again (and there is always the repeated rumor that the next one will be the last one), but I personally don’t think Inspiration is going anywhere. It’s such a cool event that perfectly encapsulates the casual side of LA’s (and by extension, America’s) take on classic menswear.
EDIT: Podcast on Inspiration LA.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza
Photography by me