Post Overalls's old school label. Nifty letter-spacing.
Text by Pete Anderson
Photos by Albert Thomas.
Looking around (capsule)--hell, looking around the streets of Soho--it's pretty clear that the vintage American clothing is a dominant theme of men's clothing. It hasn't always been that way. Post Overalls's (or Post O'Alls's) Takeshi Ohfuchi has been hunting down and collecting old American clothing for decades, and designing new classics since 1993. As we talked at capsule, he admitted that there were a few years when it wasn't worth coming to such shows, but shifting trends didn't change his vision of authentically detailed, eclectically fabricated clothes rooted in American workwear. "I always wear what I like to wear in the season, within our context." Ohfuchi's Fall/Winter 2010 collection shone in the Puck Building's bright, spare setting. On a rack of dozens of shirts, washed plaids stand out. Ohfuchi said he's stayed away from plaid in the last few years. "We did lots of plaids in the early seasons, then stripes and solids for years. Now, those plaids start looking fresh to us again."
Takeshi and I discussing the finer points of fabric and pattern.
Takeshi himself wears vintage glasses in olive green, a black work shirt, black pants and black birkenstocks. The only flash of color is at his watch, a vintage automatic with a ribbon band that would make many styleforum members jealous. He asked about my own Seiko dive watch, and we talked briefly about value in watches--I think he'd fit right in on the forum. Post Overalls has some standard season-to-season shapes that are updated with different fabrics, stitching, and other tweaks. Among them is the engineer's jacket (same since 1993), cruzer jacket, and royal traveler vest. Next fall some pieces, including the vest, will be available in a blue/white cotton fabric traditionally used for quilting. Ohfuchi is particulary excited about that--"We did some quilting last year, and this year we have more. These are Thinsulate lined, warm, and light--they give us some new dimension." Although definitely on the eclectic side, I think pieces in that fabric can be wearable as layers.
Quilted blue royal traveler vest. Would look excellet under an unlined olive wool jacket.
Red cruzer. Note a long-sleeved jacket in quilted fabric on the right.
Post's work shirts have a vintage cut and details that Ohfuchi tries to keep as true-to-original as he can. In the soft washes and contrast stitching, I see a homemade appeal. The oversized, shallow donut buttons are made from natural freshwater pearl, a material that, in the mid-20th century, was cheaper than traditional mother of pearl and was used mostly on workshirts and pajamas. Today most workshirts use plastic, which lacks the translucent, reflective quality of Post's buttons. Takeshi also has specific ideas about shirt collars. "We use simple collars. Open collars, now you would call them camp collars," which fold open at the top button rather than standing tall on the neck. Most of the details are simple on Post Overalls pieces--not a lot of functionless accessorization. Takeshi explained, "To me, wrinkles are accessories." One shirt featured two layers of the same fabric sewed together to form a double layer. The fabric was gossamer light and the overall effect was of gauzy, wrinkled comfort.
The layered plaid fabric has an almost abstract look on this CPOST cut shirt, rather than straight plaid. There's also a sweet striped chambray on the rack.
Feeling Takeshi's material.
Another CPOST shirt in plaid.
Post Overalls trousers.
Ohfuchi's fall collection also includes a number of bags. Messenger bags in various canvas tones, totes in bright melton wool with canvas handles, and another model of tote, available in fabrics including the blue/white quilt, features handles of the polyester webbing used in seatbelts and nautical settings. "All of the bags [at (capsule)] are from our old designs. We have been doing similar stuff for years, thus we have so many variations in similar range. We keep bringing back old styles from time to time."
Messengers, totes, and more totes.
Wool tote with canvas handles and button pocket.
Takeshi takes a meta approach to retro--not only is he resurrecting old styles of American clothing, but old styles from his own design archives. Rather than a lookbook, Takeshi and Katsu Naito were distributing a Post Overalls "Lookback"--featuring photos and descriptions of seasons past--including shirts from 1993, which were exclusively cut as pullovers/popovers, and a shirt charmingly archived as "(around 2000?)" loosely based on a 1970s Wrangler rodeo shirt.
Takeshi and I take a look back.
I also had an opportunity to do a little Q+A with Gary Drinkwater, of Drinkwater's in Cambridge, about Post Overalls. Gary's a Boston men's clothing veteran and a friend of the forum.
SF: How long have you been familiar with Post O' Alls? How long have you carried it?
GD: It’s been on my radar for a while but I’ve really only started following them closely for the past 3 years. We’re now working on placing orders but expect that this will be our second season--F/W 09 was our first season with it. I didn’t buy it very deep but did fairly well with it. SF: What appeals to you and your customers about the line?
GD: On a selfish level, it merchandises and works well with Engineered Garments that Drinkwater’s has carried for almost 6 years now. On a more personal and aesthetic level I feel that it holds true to the clean, simple, sensibility of workwear. Takeshi’s fabric choices elevate the garment to a "design" level, giving it streetwear/fashion appeal. Drinkwater’s customers span a wide age range but the line’s simple sensibility translates across disparate groups and demographics. What I’ve heard from them is that it is hardwearing while still being fashionable-and-fashionable without being too aggressive.
SF: How do you feel it's changed over time?
GD: I don’t think it’s changed, it seems that they’ve remained very true to their origins. That being said, I’m not sure if this observation is more about my eye slowly becoming used to seeing it or if it’s a reality but it seems as though some of the details (e.g., contrasting stitching) feel as though it’s become softer or at least less conspicuous.
SF: Takeshi is an interesting guy. Do you share his interest in vintage American stuff? Are you a collector yourself at all?
GD: In addition to being interesting, I find Takeshi to be amazingly detail-oriented (as are Daiki Suzuki from Engineered Garments and Yuki Matsuda from Yuketen) and have a love for the genre they work with allowing them to be the forefront of this wave in fashion. I’m not much of a collector in this respect—I lean to vintage fountain pens and watches—other than Pendelton shirts. And even then I only have about 50. However, being a product of the 60’s, I have original experience with these vintage inspirations before, much to my mother's chagrin.
SF: Thanks Gary! Post Overalls is carried at Context Clothing in Madison, Wisconsin, and Drinkwater's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Fred Segal Trend will be carrying the spring line and Barneys New York will be stocking Post Overalls soon.
Trousers and shirts. Nestled in there somewhere are pinpoint oxfords in pale 1980s blue, pink, and yellow.
Katsu using workwear to do real work... on his blackberry.