You have to forget what you think you know about vintage collectors when you meet Larry McKaughan. Dismiss the Value Village warriors with their ironic ’80s sweaters; set aside, for now, the Mad Men-obsessed midcentury mods and their nipped-waist party dresses.
Even the New York Times acknowledges the cult-like heritage-brand hounds who fall in line behind the Seattle-based dealer of ultra-rare turn-of-the-century leather jackets and deadstock WWI-era denim overalls. His vintage is closer to antique, and the clothes themselves are historical artifacts, not just something you pick up to wear with your skinny jeans.
The Cap Hill home base for McKaughan’s highly valuable trend-driving duds, dubbed Heller’s Cafe after an uncle’s midwestern eatery, isn’t open to the public. You don’t necessarily have to be Ralph Lauren’s creative director or an Americana-obsessed Japanese collector to get inside, but that’s the sort of traffic that regularly flows through.
Until recently, Seattleites couldn’t even get their hands on his reproduction line—a suite of mostly denim and knit separates based religiously on 70 year old specimens. The line, Heller’s Cafe by Warehouse, is produced in partnership with the Japanese brand that supplies the latter part of that title.
Oh, you could order Heller’s Cafe from J Crew.com—for the hour and a half or so that the company was able to keep the items in stock. (Only denim remains.) But now you can see the line for yourself at Ian on Second Ave.
Though the Belltown shop doesn’t have the whole collection (and they only have a limited size run, and here’s a good time to mention that this stuff is not cheap), they do have a great representation of the very minimally modernized, meticulous replicas manufactured from McKaughan’s collection. The details remain, and only when necessary has the silhouette been slightly tweaked.
Fans of the heritage-this and Americana-that trend of late—and history buffs and Japanaphiles—are hereby urged to click through the slideshow here and then get down to Ian to see the pieces for themselves.