The latest podcast episode covers our experience at Inspiration LA! These are the shownotes for that particular episode.
Listen to the Podcast Here!
Founded by photographer, menswear writer, and blues musician Rin Tanaka in 2009, Inspiration LA is a trade show focused on vintage workwear, military surplus, and casualwear. Every Februrary, pickers, enthusiasts, and celebrities flock to Los Angeles to take part in this unique event. You can read Tanaka’s thoughts on this 10 year anniversary here.
As the official website states, Inspirations promises “American vintage apparel manufactured from the 1900s-1980s, vintage-inspired-to-contemporary fashions & accessories from local boutiques, major corporate Americans, worldwide companies…” It’s not all vintage, as brands like LVC, the Real McCoys, and Himel Bros Leather have set up booths to sell to other boutiques. Inspiration LA also allows brands a chance to sell to individual West Coast consumers that may not have an opportunity to otherwise, considering how there is a distinct lack of artisanal menswear here.
It’s basically one of our favorite events of the year simply because there is really nothing like it in Southern California. Neither of us have been to (or are particularly interested in attending) LA Fashion Week (which is invite only and is not a trade show), so as far as most gatherings go, this is our only option. In a sense, it is really the closest LA will get to an “official Pitti Uomo”. And it’s actually a perfect match!
As much we love soft shoulders and 3-roll-2 closure, tailoring is a hard sell in the incredibly casual Los Angeles. It’s much easier to get into heritage-inspired workwear, as you get guys like college-age dudes browsing r/rawdenim to celebrities like John C. Reilly. It doesn’t have much stuffiness behind it like a suit (or ivy) does and at most, it’s just a little quirky.
You can see previous coverage of the events and follow along with the podcast for our outfit breakdown.
2016 – Our First Time
2017 – Getting Into It
2018 – Being “Cool” for Once
2019 – Finally Getting It
Since we began attending, Ethan and I have grown significantly in our casual style, albeit in different ways. I was always comfortable with slight workwear looks and 1950s-1960s youth style, but took a while to move on from that. Ethan, on the other hand, had an even bigger challenge: finding a casual vibe that excited him as much as tailoring/ivy. We get more into our challenges with this style on the podcast, Ethan especially.
As you can see from our coverage, there is definitely a certain “look” that comes with Inspiration. It’s sort of a mix of sportswear, ivy, and workwear, all from different eras with an almost rockstar attitude.
It definitely helps that Ethan and I have not only expanded our views beyond the Armoury/Drake’s instagram, but have even made a bunch of new stylish friends that inspire us to try new things. It only compounds every year we attend, hence why our style improves more and more. Our outfits for these events are a bit “extra” when compared to our actual everyday casual style, but the gap gets smaller each time.
Here are some outfits (both vintage and contemporary) that inspire us for this decidedly more “Inspiration LA” style. Again, it’s definitely not exactly what we wear everyday, but it gives us some great inspiration to create our own spin.
Brands to follow for vibes/products we mentioned n the Podcast
RoleClub (Brian the Bootmaker)
Don’t forget to listen to the Podcast!
Always a pleasure,
Photographs belong to their respective owner and are used here for educational purposes.
Nice report and podcast. I went to earlier Inspiration LA shows back in 2011 and 2012 back when the show was at the Queen Mary. Prior to that, Inspiration was held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. I believe the original reason it was held in February was to try and snag buyers who had just been to the Magic trade shows in Las Vegas a few days before.
You can see my trip reports from the shows I went to on my old blog https://unitedstyle.wordpress.com/?s=Inspiration+&submit=Search
Woah, loved those recaps! Crazy to see how it’s evolved since it started.
Your explanation makes sense. It’s definitely still a business trade show and not simply something for fashion enthusiasts.