This edition of The Antiques Clothes Show is particularly special, as Kennedy Magazine editor Chris Kontos takes us on a trip to Athens to tell the story of his best friend Angelo’s Helmut Lang jeans...
Around the beginning of the new millennium, terms like selvedge or Japanese denim were virtually unknown to me and my gang of menswear aficionados here in Athens — sounding too exotic for our Belgian/Italian infused wardrobe.
Our outlet for eclectic menswear at that time was Sotris, situated in the corner of Voukourestiou and Tsakalof in the posh area of Kolonaki. Sotris was the only real international shop in Athens — a place for the fashion people, the clubbers, the wealthy and the freaks that worshipped Antwerp and Nitzer Ebb, and spent their pocket money on Raf Simons bombers and MDMA for the weekend.
My good friend Vangelis was behind the counter, taking care of the music, the vibe and the recommendations on the endless stock of clothes that lay heavy on the racks. I first heard Harvey’s Sarcastic Disco in that shop, trying to figure out what the hell was going on in that recording. We would just hang out there. It was more of a place to chat and listen and eventually buy. Credit card overload. Prada silk bombers. Miu Miu sweaters. Marni raincoats. Yoji, Comme. You name it — everything was there — most prominently Raf and Helmut.
I bought my first pair of Helmut Lang jeans there. A grey pair of distressed jeans. I remember how we used to boast about them. The best denim we could lay our hands on. At the time Angelo and I were living parallel lives but we never crossed paths. Maybe we were watching each other from afar. Maybe we fell for the same girls. We shopped at the same shop. We met some years after. Angelo ended up being my best friend. He also founded Kennedy with me.
He was killed on his Vespa in 2013 after we made our first issue. His loss left a huge gap in my life. Friendship is some sort of infatuation. Losing a friend is like losing a lover.
Angelo probably bought his pair of white Helmut Lang painter jeans around the time I bought my grey pair. I remember seeing him wear them and thinking they looked cool as fuck. I remember how everyone commented how much we looked alike. I took pride in that I was looking up to him. He was into Raf, I was into Prada. Without planning it one night we were wearing almost the same clothes. Just the brands were different. I still have a picture from that night as a happy reminder of that occasion.
After Angelo died his mum called me to collect some of his things. I remember crying while going through his stuff, with a sense of guilt like I was stealing from him. This pair of Helmut Lang jeans was one of the things I got from his flat that day. They became my favourite jeans. Wearing them was like feeling Angelo near me, watching over me.
To my disappointment, most people thought they were too weird looking — always asking me if I stained them, or why I did not wash them. Those filled me with anger. I plainly replied, “That’s the way they are supposed to look.’’ Having to excuse myself like when people ask me why I button my shirt up. People in Greece were always conservative with clothes.
I will keep on wearing these jeans for years. They are one of my most prized possessions for reasons both aesthetic and emotional. They are versatile, they are timeless and most prominently, they are part of history — of something that is not there anymore. Of a past that I sometimes long for and know is gone forever.
To Helmut. To Angelo. To Athens.