Icons of Style : @johnbbrooklyn

When I hatched the idea of ‘Icons of Style,’ I had a list of people that I wanted to interview right away. However, there was one person that I absolutely had to interview without question. John AKA @johnbbrooklyn is more than just a well-dressed guy who likes denim and boots. He is my denim style icon. When I was just getting into this type of clothing, I frequented several forums and on one of them, Denimbro, John posted his outfits quite regularly and they immediately stood out to me. Not only did he have a mind blowing collection of gear, but critically, he wore it extremely well. There was something about his style that just clicked in my head and John, along with one other person from another forum* largely guided my style for my first couple of years in the denim scene and John’s fits continue to inspire me to this day.

John clearly has a great eye for good gear. He often is one of the first to discover or buy from new brands. He bought the second Himel Bros. jacket ever made, the first Fine Creek Leather jacket in the west, and was one of the first in the west to buy a jacket from Tenjin Works (a leather peacoat, no less!). However, he does not just buy every new item that comes out, he is quite discerning. What is more, he dresses well in every single season, from frigid winter to scorching summers.

A major reason behind this is the wide variety of clothing he has. In terms of boots, he owns everything from engineers to monkey boots to wingtips to cowboy boots. As far as jackets, he owns corduroy jackets, denim jackets, leathers, parkas, peacoats, and even unique grizzlies. He also wears everything from denim to chinos, vests, and even camo while all somehow making each outfit clearly his own. The most consistent aspects of his style are that he tends to wear shirts instead of t shirts and that unless they are meant to be untucked, his shirts stay tucked in as they are supposed to be.

Something else that elevates his look is his use of accessories. John has a fantastic collection of wonderful sunglasses, hats, scarves, watches, scarves, necklaces, wallet chains, handkerchiefs, and rings that he uses, but never overuses. Simply put, he dresses really well. I also had the good fortune to meet him in person at Inspiration and he was a delight to speak with. In fact, I fear I may have talked his head off, but I could not help myself. I was also quite grateful that he was willing to partake in this interview so without further ado, here it is!

Almost Vintage Style:  When and how did you get into raw denim, boots, and quality clothing?

Johnbbrooklyn: I’ve expressed myself through clothing since I was child.  My earliest memory of it was my obsession with an ‘Action Man’ T shirt at the age of six. I’m still a kid that likes to play dress up. 

AVS: When and how did style become important to you (was this tied in any way to heritage menswear)?

JBB: Style has always been important (heritage menswear less so)

AVS: You said that style has always been important to you, but heritage menswear less so. When did you start getting into this type of clothing and what drew you to it and caused you to wear so much of this type of clothing?

JBB: I grew up in the United Kingdom during 70s & 80s and I was enormously influenced by the music, movies & pop culture of that time. The term ‘Heritage clothing’ emerged circa 2004 & it feels like something a marketing executive at Redwing or J Crew came up with. For that reason alone It probably just gets my heckles up as I find it restrictive and co-modifying.  I do gravitate towards some clothing that may be labeled as ‘heritage’ but I prefer to think of clothing in classical terms. As I have gotten older my sartorial choices have narrowed to the point that for the most part I personally know the folks involved in the making of my clothes and I appreciate their reference points and attention to detail. This feels good on a number of levels as I admire people who hone or perfect their skills and take an ethical and thoughtful approach to manufacturing and design. It feels good to support their endeavors & whenever possible shake their hand. 

AVS:  Who or what influences and inspires your style?.  

JBB: Growing up in the UK but moving to the US has shaped my sartorial choices, which often find me caught between two shores, so to speak. The 60s British Mod and the American Cowboy co-exist in my wardrobe precisely because of my equal fascination with both.  My (style) heroes are diverse — from Michael Caine’s Alfie to James Dean’s Jet Rink. The cultural and historical importance of these archetypal men I have informed my choices since I was a young man, but for me the fun is in the puzzle of pairing different pieces from different eras — and even functions — and making it work in a way that satisfies me and makes sense for the day ahead. 

AVS: How would you describe your personal style?

JBB: ‘Caught between two shores’

AVS:  How important is color and fabric/texture to your outfits?

JBB: Very, the colors & fabrics must suit the day, the season & my mood. I enjoy how all of these elements change. 

AVS: Do you have a favorite season for clothing and why?

JBB: Not really. I love the seasons & the opportunity they present to dress correctly for the occasion or day. 

AVS: What is your favorite/signature piece of clothing?

JBB: I don’t have a signature piece of clothing that I’m aware of.  

AVS: Do you have a favorite category of clothing (boots, chinos, t shirts, etc) and why?

JBB: Probably outerwear, for its functionality & ability to bring any outfit together, although I’m very partial to well-made footwear, particularly Engineer boots and brouges.  

AVS: What is your favorite clothing brand and why?

JBB: Mister Freedom.

Over the last 11 years Christophe has shared his incredible knowledge of menswear and its history. During that time, through his brand Mister Freedom he has cataloged over a century of menswear through small capsule collections of clothing that have covered everything from the French gangsters of the 1920s to the action men of the 1970s. Christophe never follows trends nor has he just replicated archival pieces of clothing rather he has reimagined and added his unique spin. Along the way he has created some new classics and I am always excited to see what he does next. He has very few peers. 

AVS: Are there any items that you are looking to purchase soon or are on your wish list?

JBB: There’s always something, and they are usually not immediately available rather they exist in a memory or are often on the screen in an old western or James Bond movie.

AVS: Describe your favorite outfit that you have worn or plan on wearing.

JBB: The next one 

AVS: You mention that you are always searching for new items and I have personally noticed that you are often one of, if not the first person to discover/wear incredible new brands. What is it that draws you to hunting so hard for new brands and items to wear?

JBB: Brands are not really that important unless i know what they stand for and it resonates. Beyond the initial rush of seeing something cool, it’s the ideas and people behind them that generally peak my interest. I generally ask myself, is what they are doing special, is what they are producing well-made and is it best in class. I do believe that am better having off having a few well made things that delight me every time I wear them than a closet full of stuff. It’s worth the effort to find, support and get to know the makers that believe in this too. 

AVS: Are there any other people in or out of the denim/heritage menswear community that you think have great style?

JBB: These folks I’ve come to know in this community constantly inspire me because they are such diverse group. I really enjoy that they come from all over the world with the commonality that they share an appreciation for well made goods and a particular interest in the history & place that they came from.

Thank you for the insight, John! I never realized how apt the ‘caught between two shores’ phrase is to describe John’s style. It is perfectly fitting. I am also not surprised to hear that he has neither a favorite season for clothing nor a signature piece. He simply has too many great outfits and dresses too well in all seasons to have a favorite in either case. If you would like to see more of John’s style, head over to Denimbro HERE and follow John on Instagram HERE.

*This person has unfortunately gone full hypebeast so will not be interviewed for this series.

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