Buying vintage – with Oliver and Carl of Rubato

Wednesday, November 11th 2020
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While in Stockholm last month, I spent a morning shopping with Oliver (Dannefalk, above) and Carl (Pers) of Rubato.

I was particularly interested to hear their views on vintage shopping, as I knew that both of them used to work in vintage stores in Stockholm, and that the experience had informed their approach to Rubato. 

Oliver (Dannefalk) worked at and then ran the Östermalm branch of Herr Judit, whose main shop was on the Södermalm side of town. Östermalm is more up-market and the stock there was more centred around tailoring - both English and European bespoke, brands like Rubinacci, and accessories like Marinella. 

I found talking about that interesting, because there’s a real lack of a similar store in London - something that focuses on really good modern clothing, rather than older and more cultish military clothing or Americana. 

Carl was a customer at the Östermalm store, and eventually worked there as well. Unfortunately the store later closed, and now only the Södermalm branch (shown above and below) remains. 

We visited towards the end of our walking tour, and found some nice pieces in among the racks. Bizarrely, the item I lighted upon was a bridle belt that turned out to be Oliver’s - actually, a present that Carl gave Oliver several years ago, and which Oliver ended up selling because he had too many similar pieces. 

The belt (again, coincidentally, made by Equus in the UK, whom we’ve covered a lot) was really nicely worn in. Bridle leather is best like this: it lasts forever, but can be hard and stiff for quite a while. It needs to be worn consistently, and will soften as it ages. 

The belt was probably an example of what good, modern vintage can be: something high quality that the owner no longer wears, and which gives someone else the chance to access for a much lower price. Plus some nice patina/character. 

Unfortunately, a lot of the rest of the stock at Herr Judit was less interesting, principally because it was cheaper and didn’t have the attraction of accessible quality. 

So perhaps my suggestion of a good, modern vintage shop in London needs to be modified to include a requirement for high quality. There’s always the occasional piece like this hidden away on the racks of charity shops in rich suburbs - the likes of Richmond, Hampstead or Marylebone. Someone just has to collect and curate them. 

Back in Stockholm, Carl was telling us about the kind of vintage he buys (by us, I mean Oliver, myself and Milad, who was taking the photograph). 

“I guess most of what I buy is outerwear,” he said. “It’s more likely to have survived the ageing process well, as it’s thicker and tougher.

"Apart from that it’s jeans and chinos - I love how the cotton on those will be worn-in and softened. You know you can treat them badly because they’ve survived so much already."

The coat Carl was wearing (above) was a vintage fireman’s jacket, with its characteristic large fly front and metal clasps. And it features in the new Rubato lookbook as well.  

“I think it was inevitable that those early days working in vintage would influence how we designed clothes,” said Oliver.

“We got to handle so much nice stuff - both beautiful bespoke tailoring, which drove a lot of my early interest in that - and great knitwear, great shirts. You get a sense of what will last.”

We touched on this influence in the launch article on Rubato, in September last year, and you can see it when you look at a lot of vintage knitwear as well as - frankly - design elements of knitwear many of us used to wear as kids.

In the image above, Carl is wearing one of the new pieces from Rubato - a rollneck in camel hair. The pair decided to offer camel hair as their new range rather than cashmere, as it’s a bit more robust, and so in keeping with that long-lasting vintage angle. 

There are three pieces in camel, all the same natural colour, and some new pieces in the existing lambswool - including the adventurous ‘Arnold Palmer’ yellow. 

They’ve also introduced belts, whose main point of difference is the width.

At one inch, they’re only a bit thinner than most belts (between a quarter and an eight of an inch, in my collection) but it is noticeable - a slightly smarter look, with a very smooth suede. 

Personally I prefer uncoated brass buckles to the ones Rubato uses, as I like the way they tarnish; but I can also see that the coated might be more in keeping with the dressy look. 

Rubato also just launched their chinos, last week. Oliver is wearing the single-pleat trouser (taupe) in the pictures here, and I've been trying out the officer's chino in ivory. 

So far I adore the cotton, the Japanese make, the two styles and the three colours. But they are higher in the rise and wider in the leg than I’m used to, so I’m not sure how much they’ll become a staple. (I also found they gained about an inch on the waist after the first wash.)

Then again, I have two pieces of the knitwear and wear them happily as exceptional pieces - only with my few high-rise trousers - rather than staples. So that could end up being the case here too. 

Oliver was wearing all Rubato when we met, and the short, raglan-sleeved coat he’s wearing is a sample of things to come. As is the longer coat worn by the model in the Country lookbook

My outfit, with the wonderful Ciardi ulster coat, was featured in detail on PS here

The newsagent pictured is Paper Cut, which I’d highly recommend (and stocks my books, which is nice). Oliver is reading Cereal magazine

The vintage store linked above is Broadway & Sons, which is probably the vintage store in Sweden. And on the topic of modern second-hand clothing, if anyone wants a good example of how that can be done well, check out Rag Parade in Sheffield

Photography by Milad Abedi

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Carl Melin

Carl and Oliver are both great guys. The Rubato look is not so much my look but I really appreciate what they are doing. Herr Judit in Östermalm was a great shop when they worked there when it came to menswear. The Södermalm shop is unfortunately not as good.

Peter Hall

Very thoughtful piece. The only place in the uk where I have regularly found vintage is Oxfam-I bought a camel overcoat in the shop in York (and also a regular supplier of cricket bats,but that’s another story). The other hotspot was St Andrews-but because American students stocked up in tweed and sold it-more second hand than vintage.

JB

Lovely article. I was wondering about the coat Oliver was making, excited to see it released! Looks sort of like a slouchy peacoat, in the best possible way.
I assume Olivers ribbed roll neck is also a sample, looks so nice.

Question, did the chinos really gain an inch in the waist, meaning it got bigger? Or am I misunderstanding? That would indeed be a first for cotton trousers, growing in the washer.

JB

Hm ok, I can’t find it on their website. Carls yet, but Oliers no. Oh well, looks nice regardless.

Interesting, good to know, thanks.

Oliver

Dear JB,

Thanks for the kind words! The ribbed rollneck I’m wearing is indeed a sample. If you have any other questions please email us at [email protected]

Have a great day!

Fatih

Hi Oliver, any idea on the chino actually gaining an inch after washing rather than shrinking? I’m just about to order one and want to make sure to get the right size considering its after-wash-behaviour.

Oliver

Dear Fatih,

Please email [email protected] and I’ll help you!

Kind regards,

Oliver
Rubato

Joseph

I love how the point about vintage clothing making quality accessible at lower prices is also very much linked to responsible and sustainable consumption. It’s very interesting how our past, in the temporal, material, and philosophical senses, holds the answers to a lot of the quandaries and dilemmas we face today. Thanks for this food for thought, Simon.

On a lighthearted note, the URL for the Rubato A/W 2020 lookbook is making me hungry.

Louis

Hi Simon, nice article. I like these more casual posts that involve a bit of travel, social and sartorial. Do you know where Carl’s bag in the second to last imagine is from?

Oliver

Dear Louis,

The bag is from Arket!

Kind regards,

Oliver

Anonymous

Hey, thanks Oliver. Who’d have known! I’m sure your getting bombarded with this question but is there any sizing advice for your trousers in light of Simons comment regarding them gaining an inch? Love what you do by the way, my wife has also taken to wearing my Rubato sweater (I’ve told her to get her own!)

Oliver

Hi! Email [email protected] and we’ll help you out!

Kind regards,

Oliver

H

The ribbed roll neck Oliver is wearing is beautiful, I really hope it makes it through to production!

Paul

Seconded! I’ve already ordered one of their camel turtlenecks; if that ribbed rollneck makes it into the store as well, I’ll be looking out for it! Also wanted to mention that I emailed Rubato this afternoon regarding sizing and got a very quick and helpful response from Oliver, which was great.

Felix

Oliver’s idea of an attractive silhouette seems to overlap strongly with vintage Loriot cartoons 🙂 comment image)

Anonymous

Simon, curious why in the middle of a pandemic neither you nor your Stockholm colleagues are wearing masks in the photos or social distancing? Did you all get tested beforehand?

Anonymous

Simon, love the content and the viewpoints but in this case you’re not correct. It hasn’t worked out well for Sweden at all, as any number of readily searchable studies will show. As the reader above indirectly suggests, might be worth modeling safe behavior lest we all end up like America.

Daniel

Dear Simon,
Did you try Rubato V-necks? Which size would you choose?

Romée

Hi Simon,

thanks for this instructive post. As buying good quality vintage that is still modern is a matter for many sartorial amateurs, and you don’t find quality vintage stores in every city, I launched a sartorial marketplace whose name is Vulpilist, where every one of us would be able to sell and to buy quality RTW, MTM or bespoke menswear at affordable prices.
I hope this direct advertising won’t be irrelevant, but I’m sure many readers would be interested in knowing this alternative to vintage stores that is still open during the lockdown

J

Hi Simon,

I wondered if you could provide any comments on the camel range that rubato stock? Are you a fan?