Reader profile: Tim
Tim owns an antique luggage and travel accessories shop, and spends a lot of his time either in the store or on the road sourcing. His clothes are eminently practical, but they also speak of a love of old things, including all second-hand clothing.
I’ve liked the distinctive way Tim dresses for a while, but it wasn’t until we talked about his wardrobe that I realised quite how much is second hand, and frequently refurbished.
Perhaps more surprising, Tim himself didn’t quite appreciate how much his attitude to clothing had in common with the objects he collects and sells, until we starting talking about it. It was an enjoyable and a revealing conversation.
(Oh, and I know it's August - but all the clothes we loved were cold-weather ones... Consider this a piece of Autumn/Winter anticipation.)
Outfit 1: Semi-formal
Tim, I’m immediately getting a sense of things re-used and repaired, starting with that scarf. And of course a love of blue.
Right on both counts, Simon. Although actually the scarf probably counts double. It was made by Judy Augur, who creates clothes out of reclaimed materials in California. This one is her take on ‘boro’ material. But also since I’ve had it, the scarf has been attacked by moths, so it has had its own repairs.
And am I right that the down jacket has been repaired as well?
Yes, that’s harder to see, but it’s an example of a different type of reuse and repair - one by a corporate rather a craftsman.
The jacket is from Patagonia, and I’ve had it for years. Recently, it developed little holes in some of the panels, probably from being scraped against something. I contacted Patagonia, and they said I should send it to third-party repairers in the UK.
The repairer told me that they would try to match the colours of the panels, but it might not be the same. That was fine with me, and in fact when I got it back I thought it looked better than new - it had these little personal touches [see shot above].
How much did Patagonia charge for that?
It was free; they even covered the shipping there and back. I guess that kind of sustainable attitude is built into what they do, but it made me want to buy all my technical clothing from them.
Impressive, and I have to say I’d have the same reaction. Where are the other pieces from?
The shirt is from Nick Ashley, circa 1990. I picked it up on eBay. I think you could say his attitude to clothing has always centred around things that are practical, and only get better with age.
The bandana is vintage, from Tenue de Nimes in Amsterdam. And both the Alden boots and Rocky Mountain Featherbed gilet are from Marrkt, so second hand.
The gilet looks particularly good from being worn in.
Yes, those down gilets start very puffy, but damp down over time. This feels so good now. And of course you can see the nice ageing on the cord outside.
How much clothing do you buy second hand?
You know I never stopped to think about it, but I think over half. I certainly buy a lot from Marrkt - the daily drop emails can get pretty addictive. When it’s leading up to my birthday, my wife and children will try to look at that email as soon as it arrives - so they can buy something for me before I get my hands on it.
There’s another recommendation on repairs actually - the Alden boots were recently resoled by a place called Yorkshire Sole. They’re known for Red Wings, but did a great job on these Aldens as well - those original crepe soles never seem to last long. I did resole once with Alden in the past, but it wasn’t cheap, and Yorkshire Sole did a great job.
Outfit 2: Casual
This looks extremely practical. Where are you normally going with all these layers?
This is my standard attire for antique markets. I’ll often be there when they open, which could be 6am, and it’s all outside - so it can be very cold. These pieces also have lots of pockets, which is what I need on a day like that.
Is the coat a Nigel Cabourn ‘Everest’ parka? I haven’t seen one like that before
Yes it is, but I think it’s a German sample that never went into production. It still has the sample label in the pocket, with the swatches.
Rather than the normal Ventile on the outside, this is waxed Ventile I think, certainly a cotton, and then it has a wool lining. It’s incredibly warm, and actually breathes very well, which isn’t what you’d expect from wax.
Perhaps a lot of the wax has rubbed off over the years.
Yes you might be right. Then layered under that is a duck-canvas waistcoat, which probably dates from around 1990.
I bought it from the lovely shop Voyage on the Fulham Road, which was very fashionable back in the 1990s. God it was expensive, but they had some great things. I think they famously turned away Madonna because she didn’t have one of their VIP cards - you had to have one for admittance towards the end.
What are the strings hanging off the buttons?
Oh those are from the tickets for getting into Newark market. That’s an enormous one - they market it as the biggest one in Europe. I’ve been going for over 30 years, and that is an early start. Actually I used to sleep overnight in the car in order to be there early, but I don’t go quite that far anymore.
The waistcoat also has a little hook on the back, which the missus sewed on so I could hang my net there when I’m fishing. I use a very simple Japanese fly-fishing technique called Tenkara, so I only fish for trout really, and it involves very little tackle. I’m probably guilty of carrying too much tackle, but that’s the idea.
Where’s everything else from?
The rollneck is a replica Royal Navy submariner from Aero Leathers, the jeans are Oni Denim sulphur-dyed canvas from Son of a Stag, and the boots are Redwing with bespoke laces made by my daughter Martha.
It sounds like repairing and making skills run in the family.
Well, certainly with my daughter yes. She’s just finished her degree in fashion design and specialised in sustainable leather. But she makes all sorts of things. She made these laces, and she did the painting on the jeans in the next outfit.
Outfit 3: Formal
OK, this isn’t really formal. But this is what you would wear for being in the shop day to day, correct?
Yes, it’s normally denim and some kind of shirt. Wearing a suit wouldn’t really fit in with our relaxed attitude, but you also have to be a little smart to sell someone a Vuitton trunk costing thousands of pounds.
Do you think there are other parallels between your clothes and occupation? You value old things, like to repair them?
Yes you’re right. I certainly buy things in a similar way, and appreciate patina on something like that Cabourn parka in the same way I do on an old leather briefcase.
The business is very visual, and is about an immediate, instinctive reaction to something. It’s also indulgent to the extent that it just involves me buying things I like.
Do the pieces you buy from markets usually need repairing as well?
Yes they nearly always will do, and that’s where some of the cost comes in too - knowing the best craftsmen and the best ways to refurbish rather than simply selling them on.
I’m also a collector with clothes in the same way as antiques. Although I love buying second-hand clothing, I’ve never really got around to the other part of it, which is selling on ones you don’t wear.
So where do they all go?
Well we live in the countryside, which helps as far as space goes. And there’s a hanger-sized space that a lot of this lives in. It’s easier to justify when you’re a professional collector of other things!
Tell us about those jeans then.
They’re old Levi’s Vintage Clothing 511s, with patching and painting on the coin pocket by Martha. The boro patching was done over a hole, using materials which I believe she’d treated to give them the aged appearance. The tiger symbol was hand painted and matches her tattoo.
And how about everything else?
The linen DB is a garment-dyed blazer from LBM1911, the shirt is from Emmett and the bandana is from Kapital. The canvas sneakers are Penguin.
A lot of these clothes seem very tactile - not necessarily the same textures, but usually with something interesting in the texture.
You’re probably right, that does appeal to me. I think when you’re in the antiques trade a lot of things come down to feeling the objects, touching them and appreciating what they’re made of. How they have aged and will age. It’s very hands on.
In fact I went to Spitalfields antiques market this past Thursday, and picked up this little leather dice shaker at a stall. I was handling it, playing with it. The seller said I clearly liked its tactile nature, and it was true - it felt so good in the hand.
I’m the same with clothing. I’ll go to a market and have to pick up and handle every single piece of clothing on the rail. That probable comes from my father - he was in the rag trade, and I must have seen that from a very young age.
Thanks Tim, that was fascinating and enjoyable.
No problem Simon, I think I learnt a good bit about myself along the way too!
Photography: James Holborow