Christian Chensvold over at Ivy Style has just published (both at The Rake, and on his site) a wonderful piece about the singular Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop. Derek Guy, of Die,Workwear! fame, recently started a tumblr devoted to the deep archive of witticisms uttered by Davidson which can be found at fuckyeahcharliedavidson!.
I’ve written before about two of my favorite jackets, this navy hopsack blazer and a grey herringbone tweed jacket, both by Southwick for The Andover Shop. What made them stand out far beyond their obvious quality and elegant simplicity was the story that came with them.
Often, when thrifting, one imagines the accumulated experiences of the garments being purchased anew. The stories behind how they became someone’s castoffs, and your new favorites. These narratives are generally woven out of thin air, and suit the fancy of the lucky new owner of an old tweed jacket, vintage shell cordovan penny loafers, or whatever. Sometimes, if one is lucky, there is an actual story that can be unearthed from a thrifted garment.
Perhaps it was a custom piece and a name tag had been stitched into an interior chest pocket. For this jacket, the clue came in the form of a calling card that I found tucked inside the lining through a little opening near the front left quarter. The name on the card was Julius Leetham.
I’m an historian by training, so I was naturally curious to see if I could find out anything interesting about the previous owner of these jackets from one of America’s most storied haberdasheries. I began where everyone begins now—a cursory google search. Well, it turned out the erstwhile owner of the jacket, and former patron of The Andover Shop, had been a rather prominent figure in the annals of California jurisprudence and the state’s Republican party.
The Hon. Julius ‘Jud’ Leetham had been appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court as a judge back in 1969 by then-California governor Ronald Reagan. Leetham had indeed been a genuine Ivy Leaguer, having graduated with Harvard Law’s class of 1948. Though Leetham’s graduation pre-dated the existence of The Andover Shop in Harvard Square, I imagine that he often made his way back to Cambridge for reunions, conferences, etc., and made it a point to stop in at what had became an exclusive outfitter to his alma mater’s more tastefully clothed students, faculty, alums, and cultural heroes.
Though I’ve never been to The Andover Shop, and am, to be quite honest, a little terrified to do so given Davidson’s reputation for gruffness…I was nevertheless given over to a fit of laughter when I read, vis-a-vis fuckyeahcharliedavidson!, the story of how, when told about one of Malcolm Gladwell’s stock-in-trade pseudo-social scientific dumpfests, this time involving degrees of human connectedness, Davidson responded with a curt, “This is so absurd.” Indeed. Bravo, Mr. Davidson.
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