Hi my name John Veglak. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.
A life long tinkerer and auto/truck mechanic, I retired form NYC as a Supervisor of Mechanics a few years ago. I now spend my time restoring my 1895 house in Westchester NY, running with my 2 Border Collies, traveling, restoring and shooting pre WWII cameras - basically, just enjoying life.
Since I was young I have been drawn to the style and look of an earlier age, whether in movies, music or clothes. I always felt I belonged to a different time than the one I was living in. I remember a neighbour of ours was a horn player during the Big Band era and he was still playing and practicing in the late 60s/70s. As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn I just loved hearing him play.
I grew up in the same Brooklyn neighbourhood that the movie Saturday Night Fever took place in, so you wound up in one of 2 groups, disco or real music. In those days I loved all music except disco… With disco came what we called “cugines (Brooklyn Italian slang for cousin) or guidos” and they were exactly like the characters in the movie, they all dressed the same. In hindsight the music wasn’t all that bad and the girls loved it, but I think it is was more the fashion that I just did not get.
How did you get interested in vintage fashion/classic styles/menswear?
As a teenager in high school I bought my first leather jacket, a Schott Perfecto (that I still own) and found my look, jeans, engineer boots and the ever-present Perfecto. Was I a punk? No, but I loved the music! My aunt once called me a “nonconformist” I think she was trying to shame me, little did she know, but I took it as a badge of honour and to this day I try to live up to her expectation.
Then I the early 80s music and fashion came together for me, I discovered English Ska and Reggae, the Specials, Madness, The English Beat etc... and all of a sudden I was looking for late 50s early 60s suits. To this day I wonder how many 20s-30s suits I tossed aside looking for that perfect thin lapel suit.
After that it was just work, trying to stay out of trouble, ride my motorcycles, buy a house, get married, ski, get divorced, race motorcycles, race bicycles, a lot more skiing, ride more motorcycles. During those years I never really followed any real fashion or look, what is now called work wear was just what I wore to work.
During all this I still loved the look and feel of pre-WWII fashion, movies and music and always knew one day maybe I’ll dress like that. I guess around 15 years ago I started to rediscover my roots. I started looking and collecting 1930s clothes which I was always attracted to but never truly embraced. So here I am today with a house full of motorcycles, cameras, dogs, pre-war clothes and oh yeah work wear.
How would you describe your personal style? Has it evolved over time?
My personal style jumps between pre war suits and work wear. I love the silhouette of that era on me. I do like trying to keep it period correct but I am not beholden to it, yet I try. Here is where I have to give Simon a big thank you for helping me find dungarees and a more relaxed casual style once more. Until I found his Kickstarter for his Brakeman jeans I had not owned a pair of dungarees in years, finding the modern fit and materials not to my liking. So yeah my style has evolved from suits and trousers back to a mix including modern interpretations of ‘30s workwear.
When on the search for new pieces to add to your collection, what do you look out for in particular?
Nowadays when searching for clothes I’m looking for that perfect piece. What that perfect piece is I cannot say until I see it. A few years ago in London I found a marvellous ‘30s Harris Tweed plus four suit in ginger with matching cap, was I looking for one? Nope, but when I saw it I knew “that’s the one!” In the last few years I finally can say I have found “my” look and now I just try to enhance it with items that talk to me. I guess with age you finally distill all your experiences and you go with it. Will I change in the future? Who knows.
What is the favourite piece? Or do you have many?
Favourite piece of clothing? I can’t say I have one. It depends on my mood and season. Whether it’s a belted back Palm Beach DB suit in the summer, one of the lovely tweed suits in the winter or just a pair of vintage styled dungarees, engineer boots and leather jacket. Once again, it depends. One suit I particularly love it’s a blue over check 3 piece belted back late ‘30s suit that I have had for years and it’s just perfect! My all-time favourite has to be an 8 panel flat cap in a wonderful French workwear cloth by SJC, an everyday wardrobe staple.
Is your collection always growing?
Is my collection growing? What do you think? If you're collecting it’s growing, maybe not as fast as years ago but yea it’s growing. Now that I have a solid base I’m just looking for that holy grail item.
What is your ‘go to’ look?Go to look? Depends on the situation. As said before I’d wear a late ‘30s suit for a proper Dayton night out and pre ‘50s workwear for running around during the day.
Tell us about the other things you collect
I collect pre-WWII cameras that I also use in my photography. I shoot film and develop and print all my own work. My wife and I own a house built in 1895 which I am restoring to pre-WWII style so I am also always looking for items for the house. The kitchen has been restored to the style of the 1930s so there is always something for that. I love Farberware Coffee Robots and other vacuum coffee makers of the era. Then there is my 1942 US Army Harley Davidson motorcycle that I restored myself. The list can go on and on.
How did you discover SJC?I think I found Simon on Facebook when someone posted about a guy doing a Kickstarter campaign looking into making 1930s styled dungarees. I hadn’t owned a pair of jeans in years so I took the chance and when they arrived I was very impressed at how nice they were in both fit and the denim he used.
After that I joined his Kickstarter for a pair of his Engineer boots and Co-respondent shoes, both of which are still favourites in my wardrobe. The shoes in particular get comments whenever I wear them. I remember emailing him about the status of the shoes and received a very personal reply almost immediately and felt this guy has something going for him. I’ve been looking forward to new SJC items ever since.
Do you have a favourite SJC garment?Favourite item? there are a few, but the 2 that stand out for me are his Polos, which have become a go to item for me in the warm months, and those Co-respondent shoes, from the Kickstarter days. OK also the knitwear items are just amazing, the Shaker jumpers? Yup, fantastic. And that flat cap!
What would you like to see SJC do in the future?
What would I like to see SJC release in the future? That’s a hard one. Maybe another run of his flannel trousers, being I missed out the first time, oops. It would be great to see a matching knit set of 1920s/30s inspired socks and jumpers-vests to wear with plus fours. But I trust Simon’s vision on where he is taking the brand, he hasn’t disappointed me yet.
THAT'S ALL FOLKS!
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