JACK & JONES VINTAGE CLOTHING has just released a small, detailed collection of tees and sweats, inspired by American sportswear of the 1950s. Pick up a piece from the Track and Field Collection and you get it. It’s the authentic feel, styling, proportions and details of American, mid-century sportswear.
But surely getting a group of cynics like us to buy into ‘authenticity’ requires a lot of work? We spoke with designers, Line Rie Rishøj and Rey Kent Serafin to explain just what’s behind the collection’s success.
Line, tell us about the collection’s inspiration.
Line: We looked at American sportsmen of the 1950s – and of course, the clothing they were competing in. We focussed on track & field, weightlifting, wrestling and boxing. We wanted to create a small and authentic collection that echoed that look and time.
And how, in 2016, do you design to reflect garments made over sixty years ago?
Line: You get nerdy! [laughs] You work hard on getting the details right.
It’s things like the rib on the neck of the sweatshirts. Back then the ribs didn’t run vertically, but were set at 45 degrees. Our sweatpants normally come with ribbed leg openings, but back then it was convention to have an elastic fold-up opening, which we implemented into the designs.
So we’re talking small details then?
Line: For sure – it’s stuff that some guys won’t notice, but these little details all work to create design that is authentic. Take the drawstring on our sweatpants, for example. We noticed that back in the fifties they were more loosely knitted than today’s narrower versions. We of course designed ours to create the same look.
How did you check these details?
Line: The internet is of course great for research, but nothing beats getting your hands on an old garment. We bought a lot of vintage examples from the US. It’s then that we’re really able to explore the inspiration; deconstructing the pieces and seeing the history close up. It was from these examples that we decided on really small details like the tension of the rib. Even the type of stitch and its placement came from these garments. In fact, one of the melange fabrics featured in the collection is inspired by a really old tee we found in LA.
Rey, you’re the brand’s graphic designer. How did you approach the prints?
Rey: For the Track and Field Collection, I looked at vintage sports compositions, and kept my artwork very similar in style. The challenge was more in designing the prints to look old and authentic. The first step is studying old prints from that time and deconstructing their manufacturing processes.
For example, they didn’t have the same technology as we do today, so when they screen printed in the fifties, the T-shirts were often just a little bit warped, so the text then became a little bit warped as well. I do the same, slightly tweaking the font – just a little bit. I also give them irregularly rounded edges. It’s subtle. You probably wouldn’t notice these changes unless I told you, but if I didn’t make them, you’d pick up on it. The print would somehow look too new.
Did you only work with typography?
Rey: No, I also looked into other printing techniques and details, such as flock print. After a million or so washes, little chips of flock break away. In the gaps left behind you would typically see glue. Now that glue had a distinct colour in the fifties. So decades later you get a chipped print with that glue coming through from behind – becoming part of the design, you could say. So I then create the artwork to mimic those effects.
But I also have to choose the right fonts to begin with. I used fonts that are inspired by that era. I then use water-based overlays in my designs, to give them the look of being washed hundreds of times.
We also worked with appliques. In the fifties they stitched applique prints onto the garments, so I draw on those stitches in my design. They were quite irregular looking, giving that hand-stitched appearance, so I of course draw mine in the same fashion.
As Line said, it’s all pretty nerdy and obsessive stuff. But we love the process and the results.