Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mod Male Meets 'Mod Male'

For those of you further along in your studies of Modology, you've probably already guessed where the name of this blog came from. Some of you, however, probably just think it was some generic name chosen randomly. Not so.

The original Mod Male was one of several men's clothing boutiques (along with His Clothes, Domino Male, Male W1, and others) opened by John Stephen in the 1960s.

Being a blog more dedicated to the male side of Mod style, I figured it'd be the perfect title as well as a nice homage to the 'King of Carnaby Street.'

Well, this past weekend, I came face-to-face with an actual piece of 'Mod Male' clothing, although I cannot confirm whether it is a John Stephen piece. These days, it's pretty hard to find a vintage John Stephen-labeled piece of clothing, unless you're lucky or a big vintage fashion collector.

As we were getting ready for the day, I noticed my friend Mike's brown corduroy jacket. Nice, casual jacket... perfect for a casual day of Austin site-seeing. But what caught my eye most about this jacket was the inside floral lining.

I told him that I thought it was a great lining, to which he replied, "Oh, this... here, thought you'd might get a kick out of it." Yeah, a kick... here's what he showed me:

Yup, he was wearing a 'Mod Male' jacket from Carnaby Street! My face nearly melted. Now, it does say "Alexander's THE MOD MALE - Carnaby Street W1," which does throw me off a bit. Is this a John Stephen-designed item which was made for a different shop using his 'Mod Male' tag? Or was there a shop called "Alexander's" which put out clothing using the name "The Mod Male," by coincidence, which also happened to be on Carnaby Street? I wonder if the A Dandy in Aspic blog can answer this one?

Well, as Mike and I were discussing the jacket, his other half, Sarah, overheard us and casually replied, "Oh, wait, here... let me show you this." She went into her room and came out holding a rust-colored, 2-piece, corduroy suit.

A latter-1960s ensemble that I had seen her in once before. But here was the kicker... she opened up the coat and said, "Here, take a look at the label!"

Yup, there it was, a bona-fide John Stephen-labeled piece of clothing! The real deal!

It's not often one comes across authentic vintage 1960s Carnaby Street pieces, and here were two for me to drool over. I wonder, how many readers of this blog have come across such pieces? If you have, share your stories... what types of pieces have you found? Can you describe what the item looks like? And most importantly, what label is on the piece or pieces?

In the meantime, Mike, close this post out with a little bit of modeling, why don't you?


  1. I have a way mod purple John Stephens button down shirt with butterfly collar that I would never be caught dead in, but should throw up on eBay one of these days. If anyone here is interested, it's a very tight fitted small (probably 14.5 neck) for the small faces, har har. Email me at oliverbesner [at] sympatico [dot] ca for more deets.

    I used to be a vintage clothes hound and came across a few JS numbers, including a pop art jacket plastered with cartoon bubbles of The Monkees. I unloaded it for a small fortune on consignment at C. Madeleine's vintage boutique in Miami and I think it was featured on some TV program later that year.

  2. Oh man, would you happen to have a photo of that shirt with label (or the Monkees shirt) still? I'm thinking of a follow-up post with shots of people's vintage Carnaby Street pieces.

    I could never get into the butterfly collar, myself, but this sounds great all the same!

    I need to go through my closet, but I've never had luck finding pieces like this. The closest I've come is an American 'Modnick' floral shirt with white collar... the type that could probably be seen in a 1967 Playboy ad.

  3. Here you go Carlos! Here are a couple of photos of my deadstock Lord John 60s mustard button-down shirt.

    Check out the LJ logo on the pocket. You can't tell by the photos but it says Lord John on the buttons too.



    I've been collecting anything Carnaby Street for a while now. I should come out with a blog post sometime this year with never published photos taken in the 60s. I don't think I have a Mod Male photo. I know I have a few of Male West One, His Clothes and Lord John. I'll let you know if I find one.

  4. Patrick, that is straight-up beautiful! Love the initials on the front, too. I'm usually not into logos in the front of shirts, but in this case, wow!

    I have a photo of the Mod Male logo that I plan to use soon when redesigning the blog. I should have posted it on this post... wait, I think I still can!

  5. I'll try to post mine next week... it's actually more of a flat pointed beagle collar with double buttons, not really sure what you'd call it. Looks like something the Creation woul wear on stage. The Monkees jacket had the butterfly collar. I'm not into the Carnaby mod look at all but I used to be a Monkees fanatic and was so gassed to find it. I sure flipped it for some nice change! I don't think I have any photos saved but I'll dig around and see what I can find.

  6. The jacket was a Lord John label btw.

  7. My guess is that your friend's Mod Male jacket for Alexander's was probably made for the American market, since Alexander's seemed to be an American brand/label that pops up now and again at vintage shops and thrift stores here in NYC (and I've seen it occassionally online too). Unfortunately, I don't know much else about it than that.

    Also, I seem to recall an article about John Stephen (from '64/'65?) reprinted either in the NME Mods Special of a few years back, or on the blog Jack That Cat Was Clean, in which it is mentioned that Stephen was planning on developing his brand here in the US or attemting to license his clothes to the American market. Ever since reading that article I've always wondered what came of that, until today, when I read your post. (Thank you for sharing, by the way.)

    Which brings me to the question, where did your friends find such rare, amazing pieces? The closest I've ever come across here in New York were all American labels from the period like Hathaway, Towncraft, H.i.s, and Van Heusen -- beautiful pieces in their own right, but nothing as rare as actual Carnaby Street gear from its golden age.

  8. Gabriel, thanks for filling in on the info! You're right, according to the John Stephen book, he had been out on the East Coast to import his styles. I can't recall exactly, though, why there's not more info out about it or how well it was received. I'll have to locate the book again.

    Years ago, there used to be GREAT vintage shopping in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, at the time, I was broke student. In particular, there was a shop on Haight Street called New Government that somehow had a bunch of '60s deadstock including, from what I remember, some British labels. That store closed early on though and I don't know what ever happened to their stock.

    The last time we got lucky with deadstock European clothing was about 7 years ago when one of the vintage dealers out here found a warehouse of shoes somethere out in Europe... beautiful Carnaby-esque styles. I snatched up several pairs!

  9. That looks like the logo from the Alexander's department stores that used to be in the NYC area. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander's

    This newspaper article from 1968 mentions Stephens in association with the Daton's of Minneapolis. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2002&dat=19680624&id=6rIiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aLMFAAAAIBAJ&pg=926,5329675

    Putting it all together, Stephens seems to have been selling through the Aexander's chain.

    Putting it all together

  10. I am hoping this is still active. I used to work for John Stephens in Carnaby Street. I am also attempting to use this subject for a PhD 'The concept of the Mods and did they survive the 1960s'. I would be very interested in anyone who has an opinion about the title, any suggestions and more so any archives that anyone might have.
    Please email me at frank.clementlorford@gmail.com

    Many thanks