Thursday, April 15, 2010

King of Vintage: Heller's Cafe

If you can get your hands on it you should check out Rin Tanaka's new book, "King of Vintage. No. 1: Heller's Cafe." The star of the book is none other than Heller's Cafe, a highly-respected vintage collection, and its owner Larry McKaughan. More than 200 of the rare vintage pieces that Heller's Cafe sells or rents are featured and there is an entire section dedicated to denim from the 1880's to the 1950's. The caliber of the pieces are breathtaking (Levi Strauss overalls made with Stifel cloth, to name one) and with talks of a potential 2nd volume I hope they include more detail shots and even more denim.

When asked how the idea came about McKaughan says, "The project was a combination of Rin and me talking about a book on my company that would feature our pieces in a way that elevated them from what would normally be vintage clothing venue." There is an age-old belief that when you document something on paper (or other media) you immortalize it. I believe this is part of what McKaughan feels. After all many of these priceless pieces, in as good a condition as they are, can be rather fragile and sensitive. He notes, "We didn't really have any problems in the process of making the book. Unfortunately we did have one significant piece damaged in shipping for the exhibition [Inspiration LA]."

Their first printing of a limited 3000 copies to US and Japan has already sold out and they are almost through with the second printing. You can preview a number of pages on Rin Tanaka's website. A quick call to New York's J.Crew Men's Shop on 484 Broadway will tell you that as of today they still sell this book but are running low. Any lover of vintage would not want to miss out on owning this book even though Rin Tanaka will likely feature other vintage dealers.

A final word from McKaughan: "In general, this book turned out great. I think Rin captured the personality of my company. There are a lot of great collectors and dealers in this business and many would make great books but this book is a great representation of my passion, focus and my collection. I am very proud of it."

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