Denimhunters is seriously branching out. Readers from all over the world are sharing our passion for denim. Our international appeal has also reached like-minded denim loving businesses that wants to support what we’re doing. It is my pleasure to introduce our supporter of the month of July 2012, Oldboy Trading Co., a collective of vintage clothing merchants from Thailand that sell rare and amazingly gorgeous vintage denim online. Read the story and background of the company below and visit the webshop here.
The guy pulling the threads is Pongvaj Sucharitkul (or simply just Paul). Paul has always been inspired by and had a fascination with history, particularly the early half of the 20th century; its innovations, values, and emphasis on craftsmanship. These elements some how culminated into an obsession with denim (jeans) while he was living in San Francisco, California; the birthplace of the American blue jeans.
Prior to becoming involved in the trade, Paul did, and he continues to do, extensive research on the industry, the history, and many other various aspects of vintage clothing. After some time, and with some field experience, he began acquiring, collecting, and building an inventory along with a network of merchants and traders in Thailand. Seeing how language barriers prevented merchants from trading with markets abroad (with the exception of the Japanese market), Paul wanted to create a collective entity that could procure and creatively present meaningful vintage garments to an international audience. Thus, Oldboy Trading Co. was created.
Paul works with merchants in the Oldboy Trading Co. network to select meaningful vintage pieces to present and offer for sale on the Oldboy Trading Co. website. With a collective experience of over 50 years, members in the network also contribute useful information and wisdom on vintage clothing details and industry trends. The company also aims to create a dialogue between other like-minded individuals and businesses abroad. This brings Denimhunters to the stage.
Although Oldboy Trading Co. sells a variety of items, from work wear, leather jackets, boots, to bags and accessories for men and women, their specialty is denim. Products are divided into 3 main groups. 1) Original vintage, American-made garments, 2) Pre-owned reproductions, and 3) Clothing with unique character and patina. All our selections are based on the rarity, quality, and character of each piece.
We all know how the vintage clothing industry was single-handedly created by the Japanese in the early 1980s. What is less known is how Thailand has played a major role in the supply chain of vintage clothing since the beginning.
Picture those pioneering denim connoisseurs from Japan traveling to every crevasse of America; every thrift store, Good Will, Salvation Army, estate sales, and dumps in every big, or small town to find and acquire their piece of Americana – and to this day, continue to make the pilgrimage. So much so that it is rumoured that thousands of tons of vintage clothing have been brought over to Japan from America since the early 1980s.
But what about all the pieces that they missed? What happened to all those clothes that had been thrown out, unwanted, discarded, and left behind just accumulating over the years long before the Japanese had gotten there? Where did these clothes go? The answer is Pakistan.
In the early 1980s, bales and bales, or bundles as it is known in Asia, of unwanted and discarded clothing from America, which undoubtedly included garments from the early 1900s to the 1970s, was shipped to Pakistan as part of US humanitarian aid. Pakistani merchants then sold the bales of clothing to other Islamic countries like Malaysia. A lot of these clothes made their way into Thailand through the South, along the border between Thailand and Malaysia.
When the demand for vintage American-made clothing exploded in the 1980s, Thai southerners that were second-hand clothing merchants became rich overnight. In the years that followed, they would also become experts on vintage clothing. This had been the precedence up until the late 1990s when the US humanitarian aid shifted to Cambodia. Today, on the border between Thailand and Cambodia there exists a market called Talad Loong Gluea, or in translation, Salt Mine Market, where tons of second-hand clothing from all over the world are traded.
While most people think of going to the original source (America) when buying American-made vintage clothing, you would be surprised at how much quality vintage clothing is available in Thailand. This was most true in the 1990s. Supply now a days is much more scarce. With that said, the vintage clothing market in Thailand is fiercely competitive, but readily available.
All products shown in this article are for sale at the Oldboy Trading Co. webshop (subject to availability).