He is bringing back the broad ties, tinted glasses, cuff-links, and thick lapels for jackets to the 21st-century wardrobe. Entrepreneur Karan Bangera, the man behind Gentleman’s Community, has an eye for all things vintage. In 2014, he realized his dream of curating retro accessories for men after visiting a local flea market. All of 29 now, he is a pioneer today when it comes to selling vintage men’s accessories in India. We chatted with Karan at his Santacruz store about men’s fashion, the vintage trend, and his top picks.
When did you first identify the need to focus on men’s accessories?
In 2014, my wife and I visited the Li’l Flea in Bandra. We decided to shop around for ourselves and meet at the entrance after an hour or so. By the time we were done, I had found nothing for me, but she found a lot of cool stuff for herself It struck me then that there was hardly anything original, quirky or alternative available for men in Indian stores. And since I have always had a penchant for old watches and vintage accessories, I thought of bringing that to the market.
When did you notice a growing trend in old-school accessories though?
That was also in 2014, at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy. It’s the single most important event worldwide for men’s fashion and accessories. I was going through multiple blogs for reports from there, and noted the growing demand for older aesthetics. For instance, people were moving away from skinny ties to broader ties. People were using checkered fabrics, double breasted suits, pocket watch chains, cuff-links, and a lot of other things from the ’40s.
Why do you think old-school accessories are making a comeback?
Nostalgia is the trend across categories. Turn tables are coming back, bullet journals have returned, people are using fountain pens again. Nostalgia is understated and underpriced. Amidst the sea of new brands that keep popping up weekly, it’s a breather and respite for many to relate to something in their closet, something that was used by their parents or grandparents. The brand new products are all identical and the information is just too noisy. Vintage accessories and style offer a certain breathing space amidst the clutter.
What can one find at The Gentleman’s Community?
Well, the interesting bit about my store is that I cannot give you a specific set of things, because the stock keeps changing. These are all unique, curated antique accessories with stories of their own. They are all limited edition. Currently, I have some rare Ralph Lauren ties. Once the stock exhausts, that’s that. But, by then, I will have some other cool stuff.
What would be your top five picks from the store?
Cufflinks: “A set of Hickock cufflinks in 70s art deco style with green emerald cut.”
Tie Tack: “This used to be a tie tack. But these days, people use these as lapel pin.”
Vintage sunglasses: “Back in the 1940s, people were actually small and petite. They didn’t eat as much as people do today. So the frames were mostly of this size.”
Watches: “Another gem from the ’40s. These were issued to British military. There were 12 brands that were allotted the permission to make watches for the military, and this is one of them. The company is called Revue. On the back, you can see the stamp of ATP = Army Trade Patterns.”
Ties: “It’s a pure silk tie from the early 1980s by Polo by Ralph Lauren.”