It was my first trip to New York with my husband. He loved New York City and while I wasn’t exactly in love with the city it was a great trip and we saw lots of art and culture and we shopped. I have always been a collector of vintage clothes and when I found this jacket at a little resale shop in the east village, it spoke to me and I imagined myself as the coolest girl in town, swinging that long red fringe as I strutted down my city streets.
I guess most vintage clothes have a history, which is part of their appeal. They are usually one of a kind and never go out of style. This jacket is not only an awesome looking piece but it also has a great history. On the white shoulder panel in back are signatures scrawled in blue ink. They are the names of the band members from “It’s a Beautiful Day”. They were a band from 1960s San Francisco with one hit song. White Bird is that song and if you look it up on U-tube and are as old as I am, you will probably recognize it. It’s kind of a soft, folksy, rock ballad that sounds very much like the San Francisco sound in the 60’s. Almost nobody knows who the band is these days and anybody who isn’t over 50 has never heard the song, so the story is lost on them.
I imagine a young guy wore this jacket to the concert and waited around to meet the band afterwards and they all signed the back of his amazing jacket. It’s such a period piece, an unmistakable emblem of Americana, a hippie’s dream, a jacket that might have been at Woodstock, it screams of the era from which it came. Ban the bomb, far out, and groovy!
Turns out I didn’t saunter around in it as much as I had hoped. It’s too big for me (a mens 40), and the leather is thick and kinda heavy, and it’s really not very warm. I wore it on a few occasionswhen I wanted to display how “artsy” I was, but the long red fringe made it highly difficult to use my arms for anything useful, like reaching, driving or carrying a bag. So, it has hung in my closet for about 25 years, occasionally coming-out for a costume or a show-and-tell, and it is with a certain sadness that I realized it is time to let it go. I can no longer “pull it off”. For that matter I can no longer pull off wearing my vintage clothes in general. There comes a point as one ages when you just look like an old person wearing old clothes. I fear I have reached that point. There are a few classic pieces I will not part with, like some rhinestone sweaters, a 40’s tailored jacket that was my aunt’s, and a gorgeous blue fox collar that belonged to my grandma, but for the most part it is the end of an era.
I hope selling the jacket will make me feel better. I suppose it should be in a glass case at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I don’t have the motivation to make that happen. It should be seen, it should be out and about, swinging on the shoulders of a much younger person who frequents hipster bars and clubs. It should be worn to conjure up feelings of nostalgia from all the baby boomers who still remember the freedom of youth. So good bye cool fringe jacket, I will be just fine in my practical, black, North Face, mid-weight, fleece, zip-up!
The Fringe Jacket and other articles of vintage clothing will be available at the Green Art Collective booth at Randolph Street Market, Dec. 15-16.