gritty. worn. authentic. vintage. manly.

I’ve been noticing a trend, or should I say, a resurgence in both actual and virtual products that are gritty, worn, vintage, retro and authentic. It’s always been around, but much more pronounced these days.
Perhaps I’m more in tune with this than other people because I’ve always been attracted to the aesthetic. My personal brand, The Combustion Chamber – and by extenstion, Daily Exhaust, are both inspired by vintage cars, car parts, manuals and ads. We are all programmed to perceive the world through pattern recognition. It’s like when you buy a car, you start to see that model everywhere you go. It doesn’t matter if it’s popular or rare, you’re now tuned to see it more because it’s more important to you.
Even acknowledging my weakness for said aesthetic, I still think this renewed interest in things that look and are analogue is real and it’s bubbling up into popular culture. I see it in everything from clothing, to TV shows, to web design, to advertising to mobile application design.
Is it not expected, though? We’re at a point in history where the United States doesn’t make anything anymore. We import goods from China and export our jobs to India. Fewer things are real these days. People break up with their partners via text message. We have hundreds of Facebook ‘friends’ but few real ones. We’ve tossed aside the pencil and paper for an iPad ‘Notes’ app – complete with virtual yellow lined background.
People long for things that have history.
They reminisce of the days when things where real and made by hand.
Below are examples, some big names, some unknown to most, but all have passed through my radar:

Mad Men

Obvious, but can’t be overlooked. Mad Men has renewed interest in everything that made 1960’s New York what it was – The Old Fashioned, men who wore suits, women who wore dresses (and had the curves to fill them) and simple, purposeful product design. Matthew Weiner‘s attention to detail is incredible.

Levi’s – We Are All Workers

Levi’s kicked off a campaign in 2009 entitled ‘Go Forth’ that featured a 1800’s inspired typographic style that tried to appeal to that good ol’ American spirit. They transformed this campaign into ‘We Are All Workers’ for 2010.
From their press release:

Amid today’s widespread need for revitalization and recovery, a new generation of “real workers” has emerged, those who see challenges around them and are inspired to drive positive, meaningful change. This fall, with the introduction of Go Forth ‘Ready to Work’, the Levi’s® brand will empower and inspire workers everywhere through Levi’s® crafted product and stories of the new American worker.

*also see Coolhunting: Levi’s Workwear x Billy Reid

Gilt Manual

The popular ‘flash’ sale retailer launched this site recently with the aim to be ‘The Daily Guide to Permanent Style’. As of this writing (1 Oct 2010) headlines include: Broken in Denim You Bought Raw and How to Stock You Bar for Fall.
*also of note:
Barking Irons on the Bowery
AllSaints Spitalfields
Cool Hunting: Levi’s Workwear
Hostem (via Cool Hunting)
Put This On
Modern Anthology
From their about page:

Modern Anthology is a creative studio and retail store specializing in original deign, one story at a time.

The DUMBO outpost of Modern Anthology hosts a retail store that curates a unique selection of vintage furniture, home and personal accessories and well-crafted clothing that reflects an experienced and masculine lifestyle.

found via FastCoDesign