From branded street artists to 14th-century cobblers, style takes a turn for both the new and old
SAME AS IT EVER WAS
NEW YORK – Even today, there are still a few corners of the world where craftsmen piece together their creations using the methods and machinery of their ancestors, and who put their hearts into doing so. Sure, these men may not be thought of as innovative or disruptive or daring, but that’s pretty much the point.
photographs and words by Davide Luciano
1. Jack Lynch
E. Vogel was founded in 1879 by Egidius Vogel, a cobbler who’d come to New York from Germany. Today, the company’s Soho workshop—overseen by Jack Lynch, the founder’s great-grandson—uses traditional tools and employs craftsmen who know how to handle them. The firm has supplied footwear to everyone from Henry Kissinger to Madonna, and was commissioned to make the boots worn by Daniel Day-Lewis in the film Lincoln. “For me, the most rewarding part of the process is when the upper is sewn together,” says Lynch. “This is where we start to get a sense of what this creation is really going to look like.”
2. Lorenzo Selini
Lorenzo Selini’s mother was a dressmaker in Menfi, Sicily. She worked from home, where young Lorenzo would get into trouble by distracting the apprentice seamstress. After graduating from Ligas Torino, a tailoring school in Turin, Selini, then 24, moved to New York. He landed a job as a machine operator at Brooks Brothers and two years later became a pattern maker, as he has been until recently. Now 70, Selini firmly believes that a handmade suit is more than an item of clothing. “Fare il sarto non è un mestiere, è un arte,” he says, quoting his first boss. “Being a tailor is not a profession, it is an art.”
3. Ted Harrington
Terrapin Stationers, a family business in midtown Manhattan, produces exquisite engraved stationery using methods and machinery that date back to the firm’s founding in 1913. The firm’s designs, created using etched, hand-tooled steel or copper plates, have attracted such clients as Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander, Michael Kors and Helmut Lang. Ted Harrington, who runs the company alongside his mother, has recently made a name for himself by using Terrapin’s age-old techniques to produce edgy novelty cards. “I started making the cards,” he says, “and they started to sell.”
4. David Sokosh
David Sokosh founded Brooklyn Watches in 2009 after studying with a master watchmaker. He uses vintage Swiss pocket watch movements dating from the 1960s and ’70s, which he restores and sets in new cases. Despite the high level of craftsmanship involved, Sokosh says he doesn’t require massive amounts of resources to do his job. “A set of screwdrivers, a few different tweezers and two good loupes for magnification are all you need,” he says. He’s a believer in the idea that machines don’t have to be cold, impersonal objects. To this end, each model he makes—the Bushwick, the Saint James—is named after an evocative neighborhood or street in Brooklyn.