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In September 1994, Martin Margiela was one of the first in fashion to go overt with the idea of literally reproducing old clothes. The designer had already manipulated flea-market finds in his early collections, but this collection was different. "Instead of imitating originals, I decided to make complete reproductions," Mr. Margiela told Ms. Suzy Menkes of the IHT at the time--before he became a recluse from press exposure. Each garment carried a label that described the original and called the present piece an "exact reproduction." . . . Margiela was lucid in his explanation. "Every designer looks to retro stuff," he told Ms. Menkes. "I think I always look forward. But it's a nicer feeling for myself to go forward by looking backward."

From Fantastic Man No. 11, Summer 2010

Most of Martin Margiela's lines look great. They're thoughtful, wearable, and exceedingly well-made. But most don't really work for me--too louche, too Euro, or too subtle. Not to mention ridiculously expensive for a salaryman like myself. But I'm always intrigued by the replica pieces (line 14 in Margiela's obscure system). I think I first heard of them in a GQ piece from a few years back on trench coats. There are a lot, obviously, and I still don't own one. But Margiela's exacting reproduction (not interpretation or attempt; he calls it a replica) looked better than most.

The Fantastic Man article quoted above dealt with new and next vintage--chronicling how almost all clothing lines look to vintage for inspiration now, and how the people operate who trawl estate sales for items and bet on inspiration potential. These dealers pick through the old stuff you don't want anymore so makers can create things you will want in the future. The article's even more deeply meta, because among its points is this: they're running out of old things. Or rather, everyone's done something with everything. WWII military, Vietnam-era military, German military, current milsurp. They've done tennis and golf wear from the 1920s to the 1990s. When every conceivable genre of vintage clothing has been mined to the core, what's next?

I was a little surprised to see the quote from Margiela, but I like it--it's still a nice feeling to go forward by looking backward.

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