In a new series, we meet the best vintage dealers in the business and ask them ten questions about their trade
- TextAnother Man
Introducing Meet the Vintage Dealers, a new series spotlighting the best vintage dealers in the business.
Name: Chris Hewitt
Shop: Somebody & Sons
Location: Unit 5 | 1 A Beethoven St | London, W10 4LA. And Portobello Market on Fridays
USP: Military pieces, celebrity memorabilia and vintage sportswear
Somebody & Sons
1. When did you start Somebody & Sons?
For many years I was just at Portobello Market on Fridays but last year, after 10 years of development, my obsession for vintage denim and heritage fabrics saw me launch Hewitt Heritage Fabrics. It was then that I felt I needed a more permanent home for my inspirations.
2. What is the story behind the name?
About eight years ago, I was at the market on a cold and rainy day and whilst sipping my fourth cup coffee my mate Jean popped by. I’d been playing around with names but nothing was floating my boat. I knew that I wanted to incorporate an ‘&’ but not if it meant being seen as hipster. Loving a bit of irony I started with Somebody’s Heritage and it was then that Jean said, ‘What about Somebody & Sons?’
3. What is the first item you ever sold?
A Levi’s Jean Jacket my mom had made for my 16th birthday. I was a mod in the early 80s and was obsessed with the idea of obtaining a white Sta-Prest Big E Red Tab jacket, but in 1980s Toronto it wasn’t something you could walk into a shop and buy. My mom, being the amazing person she is, found the number for a person at the Levi’s head office in San Francisco who eventually found some deadstock white Sta-Prest from Levis Japan. Two weeks later, on my 16th birthday there it was: a perfect tailor-made dream come true. I remember the day I sold that jacket to my friend Ed for what seemed like quite a lot of money at the time. I’ve been buying and selling ever since.
4. What is your speciality?
I hand-pick everything I collect, my favourite items are ones with a personal or social history. My other unabated obsession is knitwear, I love it.
5. In your opinion, what makes a good vintage dealer?
It all depends on what their business model is. For me, I’ve created an archive of items I’ve pieced together into a curated collection that is mainly used to inspire other creatives. Other dealers will buy in bulk and sell to the public. If either are successful in their endeavours then they would be good vintage dealers.
6. What kind of places do you source your pieces from?
I’ve searched the world over and through the years have collected a group of dealers who I go back to time and again.
7. What is the most unusual piece you’ve ever had in your store?
I had a 1980s New Orleans Mardi Gras head as a shop display. People would have their photo taken with it. At one point it became so popular I thought I might start charging.
8. And what about the rarest piece?
I had a WWII National Fire Service Overseas Contingent No. 4 Column 5th Commemorative Jerkin. Late in WWII the newly-formed NFS sent firefighters to follow the Americans to help with the clean up effort as they moved through Europe. The jerkin had their route detailed on a map painted on the back and the front was covered in signatures. It was a total one-off piece and full of history. It found a home with the NFS Union archives.
9. What is the most special piece in your personal collection.
The Elvis waistcoat is currently my most special item. I love an obsessive fan.
10. What is the best thing about being a vintage dealer?
The freedom to be me. Most people are derided for their obsessions, we’re applauded.