Not sure why, but it’s been a while since we did one of these Antiques Clothes things. There hopefully should be a few more this year.
Anyway, to start things back up, here’s Eddy from The Modernist Magazine, and a story about wearing a massive coat in Coney Island back in the 90s. Take it away…
I’m not an obsessive clothes collector but not being able to throw anything away means I’ve got clothes going back two, sometimes three, decades. When asked to write this I went down into my garden shed to find the bag of old t-shirts from my late teens, for which I could attach drug addled anecdotes from my Hacienda days to.
But we've all heard Hacienda anecdotes a million times before and anyway, the bag of t-shirts was under four boxes of various tat I also can’t throw away, an old baby car seat that ‘may come in handy one day’ and several pairs of bicycle wheels. So I didn’t bother.
What I did find under the stairs though was my Triple 5 Soul jacket from the mid-90s. I had to google to see if Triple 5 Soul were still going and it seems they are. The jacket itself still looks pretty dope but that’s not why I chose it. I chose it for the memories attached to the trip to New York I bought it on.
Back in the 90s I used to go to New York once a year and stock up on clothes. I used to like Stussy, Supreme, X Large, Carhartt and the like and although you could buy all that stuff in the UK, I would usually go to New York for a week or so, straight after Christmas or New Year, and make a holiday of it.
At the time, 1995 or 96, as far as I know you couldn’t get Triple 5 Soul in the UK, but I think I’d seen a couple of big US house DJ’s (‘big’ as in ‘fat’!) wearing it and although I wasn’t into to hip hop I saw some of the more laid back hip hop crowd wearing it.
Anyway, one year (I forget which – probably 1995) I was in New York and it was fucking freezing. Anyone who has been to New York in the winter will know how cold it can get. I was under prepared and needed a 'Big Coat'. The Triple 5 Soul shop was a few doors down from Supreme and quite near X Large — on Lafayette if memory serves — and I spotted this jacket in the sale. It was XXXL and even though I was a bit chunkier back then, XXXL was way too big for me, but it was in the sale and because it was so cold I was doing some major layering up underneath anyway — so it sort of fitted.
I’ll come back to the jacket later because I was asked to write about an item of clothing that had a story attached, and the trip to New York when I bought the jacket was the time I had one of the greatest days of my life.
It being winter we decided to go down to Coney Island. Of course it would have been a stupid idea to go to Coney Island in the summer when it nice weather and all — no… go down in the middle of bloody winter — that’s a MUCH better idea! Anyway, we traipsed down there and nothing was open. Obviously.
With nothing else to do we walked along the boardwalk and as we did we could see a huge electrical storm brewing out at sea. The black clouds built and built until eventually it hit land and the rain was like someone had tipped a bath full of water over you. Luckily I had my new Triple 55 Soul jacket on *thumbs up to the camera*
The power of the storm was incredible and at some point lightning struck the area and knocked out all the electricity across Coney Island. All the subway trains stopped and any shops or diners that were open closed up for the day. The rain had stopped so we went for a mooch about because we were essentially trapped in Coney Island.
As we walked about I heard the distant thud of music. I thought this was odd as the area was in blackout. Eventually we followed the sound and we found an indoor roller rink/bumper car type space. There was literally no-one around either on the streets or in any of the sea front 'attractions'. It was a midweek afternoon in deepest winter. But emanating from this roller rink was some top quality US house music.
I went inside and the sound system was incredible. I have no idea why the DJ’s were even there on a weekend afternoon or who they were playing for but the place must have had its own generator and was the only place in Coney Island that seemed to have electricity. Not only that but they were using this rare electricity supply to play exquisite house music over the best sound system I have ever heard to a couple of dorky English fellas in coats that were too big for them.
We hung around for a while and then eventually power was restored to the rest of the area. I wanted to stay and listen to this incredible music but it was a bit weird standing there just on our own on a wet Tuesday afternoon and besides, it was getting late. It was such a strange set of circumstances, to this day I still am not sure if the whole thing really happened.
It was only years later I found out that there were a couple of places down at Coney Island, Elderado Auto Skooter and Dreamland, that had great sound systems and which regularly hosted parties. Elderado Auto Skooter had a sound system designed by Richard Long who also did the system at The Paradise Garage. I think that is where we ended up on that day.
Anyway – back to the jacket. It is an ace jacket and has some great detailing on it. It is super warm and possibly a little too warm at times. This is a BIG COAT. One pocket came with its own CD wallet — this was the mid-90s after all. It had a pocket for a cell phone — a revelation at the time but seemingly only designed to fit the clam shell phones which were all the rage back then.
The best feature however is a pair of shoulder strap type things. It took me while to work out what they were for but after wandering in and out of shops in New York all day going from freezing cold to warm air conditioned buildings I realised it was so you slip your jacket off as you go indoors and you don’t have to carry it around. You wear your coat on you back like a rucksack. Genius.
I must admit I never really wore this coat very much. It was always too big and it never really got cold enough in this country. I also sort of grew out of that ‘90s New York House DJ’ look (didn’t we all?) and the coat has been under the stairs for over a decade. It was nice to drag it out though and remember my surreal day down in Coney Island.