In the classic 1974 film ‘Chinatown’ set in 1930s Los Angeles, there’s a scene in which Jack Nicholson as well-to-do private eye Jake Gittes is snooping around the cliffs investigating some dodgy goings-on with the municipal water authority when he’s suddenly swept up in an unexpected deluge of water being run off from the reserve supply in order to create the illusion of a shortage. He makes for a sorry sight as he trudges back to his car with his bespoke suit drenched and missing one “god-damn Florsheim shoe”.
Florsheim is just one of many once-reputable American menswear brands which have taken the long journey from being highly regarded, through the downward spiral of offshored manufacture and reduced quality in the race to the bottom, and which now trade on long-past glories. Their famed Kenmore longwing brogues remain much sought-after in vintage circles but the current version is not nearly as robust as those from the past, made in America.
Perhaps in a grasp for credibility, in 2009 Florsheim partnered up with New York fashion house Duckie Brown to produce a range of shoes – Florsheim by Duckie Brown – that combined traditional styles like longwing brogues, loafers and suede bucks with a wonderful array of bright colours. This wasn’t a million miles from the George Cox Robot shoes which I discussed here and were once available in every colour in the rainbow.
I was a bit late to the party on finding out about these great looking Duckie Brown shoes, and by the time I got into one of those all-too-familiar obsessive hunting modes the collaboration with Florsheim was at an end and available choices were limited. I missed out on the royal blue calf brogues but I did manage to snag this pair of tangerine suede bucks which I’d lusted after for a long time … and which have subsequently remained on my shoe rack with very rare use.
As a teenager I was an admirer of The Jam almost to the point of obsession, but when it came to being influenced by style I was always much more into Bruce Foxton than I was Paul Weller. That’s why I joined a band and took up playing the bass and of course my first bass was a Rickenbacker.
When Weller split up The Jam my musical interests were exploding, partly as a result of being in a (non Mod) band and partly just from the wonderfully eclectic cacophony of new music that was the environment of the second half of the eighties. I didn’t care much for The Style Council and haven’t followed Weller’s solo career very closely since then. I certainly haven’t been interested in his baffling approach to clothes and hair styles since those days!
A couple of years ago there was an excellent documentary on The Jam named ‘About The Young Idea’, and more recently I’ve seen equally well done films ‘Into Tomorrow’ about Weller’s career and ‘Long Hot Summers’ about The Style Council. At some point in the latter there’s a clip of the band around the period of ‘The Cost Of Loving’ in which they were decked out in white trucker jackets and white jeans.
I thought this was a fantastic image for the band and a great look for spring and summer. I believe the pic below was from the ‘Heavens Above’ video which was a song from the album which was clearly influenced by the Philly Soul sound, released as a single in America but not back home. The video was shot around a windmill, possibly in The Netherlands, which may have influenced the preponderance of orange!
I have Levi’s trucker jackets in white and blue but neither have been worn in a long time. I’ve mentioned before how jacket season where I live is short and the truckers have to compete with – and usually come off worst against – several Harringtons, monkey jackets, MA-1s and cotton blazers.
I’ve been an advocate for white Levi’s as an alternative to blue jeans for many years now, and this renewed admiration for the kit worn by The Style Council inspired me to dig out my white denim trucker jacket. The double blue denim outfit – the Canadian tuxedo! – has been frowned upon for a while which may partly explain why my own blue trucker hasn’t seen the light in a long time, but a double white denim outfit? Maybe I could go for that – maybe it should be named the ‘Florida tuxedo’? Wearing that with a ‘Cost of Loving’ style orange polo would give me a great excuse to dust off those long neglected orange bucks which in my opinion would be an upgrade on the stark black leather loafers Weller wore at that time.
Then I remembered that drummer Steve White provided a bit of contrast to the whole ensemble image by sporting an orange denim trucker and that set me off once again on another of those all-too-familiar obsessive hunts.
Once again I found I was late to the party as there were several decent looking versions popping up on my internet search, but they were all from a couple of years ago and all sold out.
Then I got lucky with this from Amazon …
Of course its great that that there was a happy conclusion to this particular round of compulsive behaviour on my part but I’m equally happy that I now have a couple more outfits with which I can wear my long neglected orange bucks and put away that nagging feeling that they were the epitome of white elephant purchases in my wardrobe.
Sunglasses – Ray Ban New Wayfarer 2132
Jackets – Levi’s, DZDS (Amazon)
Polo Shirts – Lacoste
Strides – Levi’s 501
Shoes – Florsheim By Duckie Brown