Brian Procell Explains Why the Fashion World Started Taking Vintage Seriously

Brian Procell with his partner in work and life, Jessica Gonsalves.

Brian Procell along with his accomplice in work and life, Jessica Gonsalves.

The man behind N.Y.C.’s most influential classic spot helped flip thrifted items into luxurious objects.

When I enter the cramped confines of Procell on Delancey St., flashbulbs are strobing off the white partitions and curious passersby are lingering exterior the glass entrance. Inside, a half-dozen youngsters with cool haircuts—wearing an assortment of classic Fendi, classic Stone Island, and…Crocs—pose amongst double-stacked racks of denim and T-shirts for GQ Style’s photographers, who’re there to shoot the Procell crew for the vacation subject.

Though the shop bears his identify, Brian prefers to stay behind the scenes, and let prospects work together with the squad of younger musicians, college students, photographers, artists, and designers who man the register in the course of the retailer’s semi-regular hours. He’s extra a Rick Rubin than a Kanye West—and like Rubin, he has a magic contact. The store is curated like a sick report retailer, with each style of ’80s and ’90s trend represented. Original Prada Sport jackets hold subsequent to stonewashed Versace denims and iconic Chanel equipment. Hole merch and Grateful Dead tie-dye be part of a best hits of uncommon hip-hop bootlegs from ’90s N.Y.C. When Procell opened in 2012, curated classic was comparatively new, and trend’s wave of throwback designs hadn’t but crested. Now, each metropolis has an excellent luxurious classic spot—however not all people has Brian’s archive (at 25,000 items and rising) or his dogged dedication to gather, have fun, and unfold the cultural historical past of clothes. We sat down for a uncommon dialog about how he turned a downtown fixture from his humble origins in Elizabeth, NJ, and the way he modified the classic market within the course of.

GQ Style: My sense is even 5 years in the past you’d have the ability to discover a few of the stuff in right here at a Goodwill or thrift retailer, however now that folks notice the worth of these things it’s gotten fairly a bit more durable.
Brian Procell: The primary wrongdoer is social media. There’s a degree of transparency on-line that enables for lots of companies to type of give away training. We do our social media in a really pure approach—I do not imply it’s unfavorable. We do must publicize what we do, and the impact is that lots of people are influenced. But the truth is any of the items which are within the retailer proper now, the probabilities of discovering them by yourself within the wild is equal to successful the lottery.

So do you suppose that you just’re type of accountable for making a market for lots of those classic classes?
Yeah, completely. Take for instance designer sportswear—in 2008 I did a set for Opening Ceremony, and that was the primary time a division retailer was showcasing runway variations of streetwear. So you had Hermes sweatshirts, you had Moschino and Gauthier model of “sport” from the ’80s and ’90s. Then I juxtaposed that with Nike, Adidas, and all the opposite manufacturers. That had by no means, ever been performed earlier than. The demand was superb. The viewers was simply insatiable. So I noticed that as like one thing that was going to be round for a really, very very long time. And then I went full throttle. I’ve all the time been identical to desirous about this as a craft as an alternative of a job. I need to innovate. I wished to be a painter as I used to be rising up. Lots of my strikes in New York metropolis had been actually about making advances within the artwork world, however I simply did not have the pedigree and the funds to roll the cube that approach. So what I wished to do on the earth of classic, like several painter or artist that’s revered of their discipline, is innovate. Also, that was my first piece that seeing designers are available in, to reappropriate a few of the stuff. So I noticed that as calling. That’s actually the bread and butter of the enterprise. It’s not the shop—

It’s the consulting.
It’s the consulting and behind-the-scenes work.

Do you ever see one thing you offered a designer seem fairly actually interpreted on the runway and get type of bummed out?
No, in no way. It should not be checked out by way of a unfavorable lens. Right now we live in a extremely humorous time the place designers are being known as out for reappropriating and carbon-copying. I can type of perceive ’trigger I believe a variety of world did not perceive the best way the trade labored. But these designers must ship samples and product on time. And I believe in a way they’re educating the remainder of the world. They’re shining a lightweight on one thing that was actually discarded, you already know? I actually admire that. I believe it is actually cool. They are elevating the standing of one thing of that was regarded as mundane or simply regarded as actually trash.

So it type of raises one other query, which is who does all this trend historical past belong to?
Totally. I believe an important factor is that. And we will actually say it how it’s: It is for the youth, it is for the children. At the tip of the day, traits and trend and this tradition is for the children. I imply that in one of the simplest ways potential. It’s actually inspiring for me—that is why I actually beloved having the store, as a result of on the finish of the day for me it’s a spotlight group, and it actually helps to sharpen the talents and actually hone in on what’s occurring in actual time.

Since you opened this place in 2012, a lot new, youthful vitality has erupted within the trend world. How has this shift affected what you do?
Well, I believe there’s a variety of intra-dealer purchasing occurring on this world as a result of the demand is so loopy. The thought of classic may be very accepted now. It has hit vital mass.

Vintage is now a luxurious good.
Exactly. Which is what I had all the time hoped it will be. I all the time thought our method was this can be a luxurious, not a thrift retailer. The first 12 months that we opened that was nonetheless a really huge factor, there was the stigma with the second hand. People are like, “Oh cool. This is a thrift retailer.” We had been like, “Dude, that is not what it’s.” Like you go to a thrift retailer when that’s your solely possibility, otherwise you’re actually purchasing out of an institutional thrift retailer, which is for that objective. Right? It’s a delicate dialog as a result of what was occurring was earlier than folks had been actually like, “You’re principally gathering cans, otherwise you’re simply digging by way of rubbish.” They didn’t perceive it. My entire factor was like, I can take any of the issues that change your life and present you a parallel in clothes. The strongest film of your life has a promotional merchandise that we will place in a trend context. And it does not must be about nostalgia. For me, I can take all of this, take it like a bouquet of wildflowers, and put a glance collectively that is going to interrupt all people’s neck at a fucking get together.

What are you trying to find proper now? What have you ever been into and what are folks asking for?
Whenever I get requested that I believe you need to perceive that this course of at this level may be very formulaic. If anyone ever desires to look into the momentary development, they need to analyze the final 10 to 15 years. It’s concerning the youth body of reference. Because for those who look again at one thing that is 10 years outdated to anyone that is 20 years outdated, it is model new to them. Every 12 months one thing comes out that cements itself as, like, the long run for traits. For instance, 20 years from now, definitely, persons are going to take a look at Eckhaus Latta, as a result of it is fucking cool. That’s a no brainer. So it is prefer it’s very easy for an individual to ask, “What’s subsequent?” It’s like, “What’s now?”

What’s your final grail on your private assortment?
I’m actually into shit that I’ve by no means seen earlier than. Just yesterday I purchased a David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Phillip Glass T-shirt. I’ve by no means seen that shirt earlier than. It’s loopy. That’s a sick fucking shirt. I imply there’s that one Aphex Twin shirt—“Come To Daddy”—that I’ve been after now for 5 years. We put it on Frank Ocean, we actually offered it for X quantity, and each time we get provided it it’s actually seven to 10 instances what we offered it for. I believe we have had the chance to purchase it twice within the final 5 years. And it has been for hundreds of {dollars}, and I can not pull that set off.

How has the web modified what you do? Are you sourcing stuff on eBay?
When I used to be bodily exhausted from sourcing, I all the time say that my thumbs nonetheless labored, and my eyes nonetheless labored. So within the evenings I might lay down and search eBay till I fell asleep. That was actually the dedication it took firstly. There’s that one documentary concerning the Bones Brigade, the place [Rodney] Mullen is speaking about how he missed out on a variety of issues his childhood due to how devoted he was. He begins to interrupt down and cry, and once I noticed that I’m fucking crying myself. In order to achieve success you need to give it your full fucking life. My household lives in New Jersey however I barely get to see them as a result of I’m so concerned in what I do. But I used to be raised beneath the poverty degree and now I’m on the level that I can lastly assist my household out. I’m attempting to have my father not go work anymore, and my mom, too. To tie it again into how the web has modified all the pieces, I believe the tradition has reached a degree the place my mother and father can now perceive what I do, which is superior. They did not get what I used to be doing earlier than. I had a suspicion that for a very long time they thought I used to be dealing medicine [laughs].

Is there one piece of classic that basically stands out of your thoughts as type of revelatory, one thing you purchase if you had been younger that received you hooked on this world?
Well, it was actually taboo rising up. We weren’t allowed to enter thrift shops. It was all about standing. If you had been thrift purchasing on your garments, that meant you had no cash, and we needed to pretend it rising up my entire life. I went to highschool three blocks away from what turned in my life one of many best Salvation Army honey holes. I did not step foot into it till after I graduated highschool. It was not till I turned an grownup and began to get actually severe about this that I went again to my hometown and I hit it and I discovered some unimaginable items there. That was the primary time I ever pulled out a classic New Order shirt designed by Peter Saville. It’s an unimaginable shirt. I’m in Elizabeth, New Jersey pulling out 1988 Sugar Cubes, New Order, and Public Relation Unlimited live performance shirts. It blew my thoughts, and I might return and discover a variety of the Ralph Lauren Polo assortment that I’ve in my archive at present got here from that retailer. It’s simply humorous that I walked by it hundreds of instances earlier than ever feeling assured sufficient to love step in. It was nuts. As I received older I received pissed off it was like, “Fuck man, if I solely knew.” If I solely had the balls to be like, “I received to do that.”

And now you’re at the very least partly accountable for flipping the taboo on its head.
Full circle. It’s bonkers, it is fascinating. It’s now an aspiration to develop into a classic supplier [laughs].

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Colman Ma
Colman is a technology writer covering gadgets and general tech trends. Colman is a geek at heart and loves anything that has a chip in it.

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