Rin Tanaka’s Inspiration vintage clothing fair in Long Beach inspires brands, collectors


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On Saturday, I checked out the second annual Inspiration Los Angeles vintage clothing fair held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Inspiration Los Angeles is the brainchild of Rin Tanaka, a fashion journalist who publishes the cult ‘My Freedamn’ book series that meticulously catalogs a wide range of mainly American-made menswear including jeans, biker jackets and surfer T-shirts culled from flea market and antique dealers across the country.

The year’s Inspiration Los Angeles was scheduled to take place the same weekend as the Pasadena Rose Bowl flea market and drew about 2,500 international visitors, according to Tanaka, including industry names such as Diesel’s Renzo Rosso, en route to the Diesel Black Gold New York Fashion Week show, and a design team from Amsterdam-based G-Star. Levi’s also used the fair to showcase its $250 U.S.-made 501 Levi’s XX collection, constructed with Cone Denim fabric from North Carolina.


“We have no men’s vintage show in the world -- more women’s or costumes,” said Tanaka, who splits his time between Japan and his home in San Clemente, explaining what germinated the fair.

Rosso said he heard from his design team that Inspiration Los Angeles was “unbelievably nice, very cool. The best items are very expensive but they are interesting for our museum. Vintage always inspires collections not only for Diesel, but, in general, for all fashion giants.”

But what determines what vintage is collectible and what isn’t? Feal Mor owner JP Plunier, who displayed his brand’s trademark French sailor sweaters, offered this explanation: “Vintage is stuff that works after the trend’s over.”

The big trend revival that I witnessed at the fair was Native American-style prints and clothing from makers ranging from Pendleton and Ralph Lauren, including a denim wrap skirt for about $800 featuring an embroidered leather rustic tableau. But the real visual draw was the crowd pimped out in their finds, including a woman wearing a Raggedy Ann and Andy apron and a man with a handlebar mustache who looked like he could have worked on the crew that built the 75-year-old cruise liner.

-- Max Padilla

Top photos: Attendees at Inspiration vintage fair. Credit: Summer Browner / Feal Mor