In Conversation With: Jojo Elgarice of Rag Parade, Sheffield

In Conversation With: Jojo Elgarice of Rag Parade, Sheffield

It’s been an interesting year and half to say the least.  How are things?

For sure, it’s been pretty crazy. I’m surprisingly not too bad. Missing travelling, meeting interesting folk, and buying missions. But other than that, all good.

A well-trodden subject, I’m guessing, but what kicked off your fascination with vintage in the first place?

It was all by accident, really. I left school at 16 and went on to train to become a chef, after a few gruelling years in kitchens – and not particularly enjoying it – I started doing a bit of buying and selling on the side. It wasn’t really anything new to me; I was always trying to sell something as a kid [laughs]. My mother’s an antique dealer, and we grew up around lots of old stuff. I must have subconsciously absorbed some level of knowledge and it spiralled from there really.

What were some of the first bits you started selling?

I really got into handmade and bespoke shoes and was buying them in battered condition, breathing a little life back into them and reselling them out of a rucksack and online. I think the way I learn is quite photographic; I can remember imagery in my head quite easily. This really helped when identifying old tags, labels, handwriting and maker’s marks. To cut a long story short, I woke up and decided to quit my job one day and rented a little shop above another shop, Syd & Mallory’s in the city centre of Sheffield. After a few years, the shop was set for redevelopment and I found myself taking the leap to my own store. That brings us to today, really. It sounds like a nice fairy tale story, but it’s been a long and emotional road.

What do you think it is about vintage that continues to interest people after all these years?

I think quality and design are key. Some of that old kit was really well made – in terms of construction and fabric – so it has just worn and lasted so well over the years. I think something that is well made is always going to have appeal. One thing to always remember though is that just because something is old doesn’t necessarily mean it is good. Unfortunately, a lot of bad quality kit has been churned out over the years.

You’re a well-travelled guy. Do you find that the interest in vintage clothing is a universal thing? Or do some places and communities take it more seriously than others?

It’s definitely more popular in some countries than others and has become increasingly popular in more obscure places over the last few years. Japan has been at the forefront of the scene for a long, long time – in an almost obsessive sort of way. Every detail matters out there.

How does it feel to have been able to turn your interest in clothing into  livelihood?

I was never really focused at school and found the conventional institutionalised way of learning to be very boring and repetitive. So, when I found something I was super interested in, I became obsessed pretty quickly. It gave me a focus. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love for a job and create my own rules.

 How have the likes of Instagram and other social media impacted your business over the years?

It’s been really handy. I think that’s probably the case for most people in my business. It’s brought customers to my shop from all corners of the earth and created many long standing friendships and business relationships. Physically and virtually. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Who’s the craziest person that’s ever come through your doors over the years?

It would be hard to pinpoint one person, but it really does always surprise me who’s going to walk through the door next. We’ve met some incredible people in the shop over the years and I think most importantly they all share that same sort of passion. We had a customer not that long back who travelled from Mexico just to visit the shop. That sort of thing will always blow my mind.

Are there any great finds from over the years that you’re particularly proud of? 

I had an insane find fairly recently which I still can’t get over. I met a guy whose father was in the British Commonwealth Games and the Olympics in the late 1950s up until the 1970s and I purchased a sweatshirt from him. I then later went on to buy his sports bags and tracksuit. After a few months, I wondered if his dad was still alive and decided to try and track him down. It turns out he’s in his late 80s and we got chatting on the phone. I went on to purchase his complete collection of medals, blazers, ties, shorts, flags, photograph albums, badges and pretty much three decades of his sporting history. It’s a really beautiful collection of stuff that tells such a great story, it needs photographing and logging properly.

By the same token, are there any grail pieces or ‘ones that got away’ that still haunt your dreams to this day?

I’ve missed out on some killer stuff over the years, but I try to not lose too much sleep over it nowadays. A few pieces still elude me but hopefully the time will come.

Can you think of any particular garments that are just that little bit better when bought vintage?

Some of the classics are definitely better when they’re old and I think it’s mainly down to the fabrics. Something like a really beautifully-worn old moleskin French work jacket. Compare that to a new one and it’s a whole different level. The same goes for an old Tootal Scarf; they never got those quite right when they remade them. Like a lot of things – not just clothing – the processes can get lost over time and things don’t quite have the same aesthetic and feeling as the real deal. It’s a bit of a Georgian Townhouse vs Barratt Home scenario.

 What styles influenced you growing up?

I spent a lot of time skateboarding growing up so I suppose that had quite a strong influence from an early age. All the old videos were great as they exposed us to every genre of music. That helped a lot; it gave me a real broad taste.

 How would you define your own style as it stands today?

That’s a tricky question as I don’t really have a set style, I mainly just like to mix up some older kit with some more contemporary gear and make it work for me.

@ragparadesheffield

Interview by Will Halbert

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