The Vintage Cool Hunter: Retro cool for today’s gentleman
n. Someone who investigates the latest trends, fashions, concepts, gadgets, and other minutiae of modern life and then makes predictions about future trends for marketing purposes.
What the hell is a vintage cool hunter, you say?
Well, some of us are fascinated by things that aren’t the latest whiz bang electronic gadget or too-tight cuts of suits and jeans. Not that we aren’t enamored with our iPads and other blessings of a robust modern consumer society, it’s just that somewhere in our souls we pine for something a little more. For things, gadgets—stuff—with some soul. Well-made things; things meant to last for generations and not disposable like nearly everything is today. Think about it. Today we have disposable razors. Today we have disposable, perfectly accurate $10 quartz watches. Today we have cell phones and computers meant to last through a few software upgrades and no more.
So where did all the enduring and truly well-made stuff go?
We crave the kind of romantic things J. Peterman used to sell in those great catalogs with the impossibly exotic ad copy and the hand drawn—never photographed—products. That was before Seinfeld made the company famous and hubris and over-extension killed it. (Well, only for a while. John Peterman eventually brought the company back to life, and in a strange case of life imitating art, he did it with the actor who had played him on Seinfeld, John O’Hurley, as an investor.)
In contrast to the Peterman-pedaled wares, at Vintage Cool Hunter we’re more inspired by the real deal, honest goods. We prefer originals to the reproductions and rip offs. Thanks to the internet and sites like Ebay and Etsy, such treasures are now easily found without even leaving your home or taking a shower and putting on real outside clothes.
But we’re also fascinated by the real deal, honest recreations and the modern products that somehow manage to preserve the high quality and mojo of a bygone era. We’re thinking of things like the Filson Field Satchel, something we’re sure even old Atticus Finch could relate to and appreciate.
What else is VCH into?
There are some design and quality benchmarks that immediately come to mind: the Parker “51” fountain pen, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch, and the Gillette safety razor to name just three. These three icons of mid-century design— industrial art, really— were all made to last for generations and have done just that. They were all indisputably the leaders in their respective markets at the time of their greatest success (probably the 1940s and 1950s for all three).
Perhaps even better for the vintage cool hunter, all three are still readily available—sometimes for shockingly low prices, given the quality of their manufacture. And they still work as well today as they ever did, which is to say very well indeed. We love that part. The Parker “51” fountain pen is still a very fine, practical writing implement—I use one (actually, two) every day.
We hasten to add that not everything discussed at Vintage Cool Hunter will be things like the aforementioned darlings of mid-century industrial design. We will examine from time to time real art like fine original Audubon prints; the ultimate Beatles cover song—hint, it was done by Nilsson; the greatest John Coltrane jazz album. You’re likely to find just about anything here that was once regarded as first class or well-made stuff, or even something modern with a bit of vintage-inspired style.
Welcome to Vintage Cool Hunter.