Back in 2000 I was sent on a mission to LA on behalf of well known TV company to talk to Warner Bros about why they didn’t really need to buy into Warner’s own version of the internet, called Entertaindom, instead of using the real internet for free. Strange but true. Anyway the point is that I got to stay 5 days in LA just for one meeting, drive a Mustang Convertible and cruise up and down Pacific Highway 1 blaring out jazz and bossa nova to bemused passers by. And of course shop.
Part of my mission was to get a Golden Bear suede stadium jacket with a round neck shawl collar, just like I’d seen in the 80s in John Simons but could never afford back then. I rang up Golden Bear and spoke to a nice lady who was one of the owners and of course she remembered the J Simons models. Well you would wouldn’t you? The only store in UK selling your products. I told her I was looking for this specific jacket. I described my size and height over the phone (oh foolish man) and Sherry said she had some old stock jackets and she’d get one of the girls to run up a shawl collar for me and replace the standard one. She’d also ship the jacket from San Francisco to my hotel in time for my arrival. Good old fashioned American service.
Unfortunately, when I got to LA and saw the jacket it was massive, like a baggy track suit. Golden Bear had been so nice that I couldn’t call them up and return it. I tried wearing it out in LA but knew it looked a bit preposterous even though no one would tell me (Mrs Weejun would have laughed but she wasn’t around in those days).
Anyway, that lead me to thinking: ‘Hold on, I’m in the USA with time on my hands – let’s go thrifting!’ I drove around for hours trying to find an area that was dodgy enough to have thrift stores, but not too dodgy to park a rental Mustang and talk with a British accent. Eventually I spotted a charity store on Wilshire Boulevard with parking nearby in a drive-in drug store. I went in hoping to find a FLIP type experience of oxford shirts and chinos aplenty, but there wasn’t really much in there at first glance. Then things looked up and I found a Ralphy Purple Label grey herringbone hacking jacket for $5.00. I went to pay at the till and behind the woman taking the cash there was as row of shoes on a high shelf.
They were staring straight at me.
The old heart started pounding as I asked to have a look.
Lace up Bass Weejuns – in MY size. For $3.00.
So that’s how come I got these beauties here.
They are not Sportsoccasins and from the man made heel sock and type face I’d say they were late 60s earliest, or 1970s. The lace through detail on the sides is different from any other models I’ve seen. The soles and heels were worn right through so on my return to London I took them to KG Shoes in Mornington Crescent (to the man who used to resole loafers for Gucci back in the day) and he did a great job on them. Oh and the Golden Bear jacket I sold to Johnny Rushton of shoes fame.
This year I tried to buy a Golden Bear jacket I found at Sierra Trading Post. What they sent me was not the jacket in the photos and it was truly appalling – made in China and with gorilla arms. Another shame. Sierra Trading Post refunded all the money even the shipping, but I’d have rather had the jacket.
But hey, I still have the 2 tie Weejuns in true oxblood and my meeting with Warner Bros only lasted an hour. Both true consolations.