Inside the Awe-Inspiring Wardrobe of an Archival Fashion Collector

I’ve known @JonathanRightNow for a few years now and what has always struck me about him is his amazing collection of high end archival fashion pieces. As an admirer of fashion, I’m drawn to his extensive collection and so I finally decided to pay him a visit and talk to him about his wardrobe of Givenchy, Rodarte, Comme des Garcons, Hood By Air, Yves Saint Laurent and more.

Jon’s love of fashion began about 8 or 9 years ago through an interest in Barack Obama and his political rise to the presidency. His curiosity in what Obama wore lead to his discovery of Brooks Brothers and their long history of dressing US presidents including Barack. From there Jon found a now defunct label called Black Fleece designed by Thom Browne and sold at Brooks Brothers. This discovery lead to him finding Browne’s “Punks vs Jocks” collection which further fuelled his foray into fashion. From there Jon discovered Toronto menswear stockist Contraband which carries Browne’s pieces but also introduced him to other brands in high end men’s fashion.

Fast forward years later and Jon now owns an impressive and sizable collection of rare, archival pieces. During our interview we discussed some of his favorite pieces, how he acquired them, and why they are significant in the history of fashion.

Off White, Caravaggio Pullover, 2011

This is the oldest piece in Jon’s current collection of archival fashion. It is seasonless as it was produced prior to Virgil Abloh‘s runway debut, made and sold when Virgil was still designing stand alone pieces that were heavily branded in his signature style. Jon recalls how 6 or 7 years ago Abloh’s designs could be spotted on the who’s who at every major fashion week which sparked a rampant curiosity about the label. Jon cites Virgil and Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air as being notable figures in the streetwear industry for using heavily branded merchandise as marketing tools to much success. These days brands like Vetements and Balenciaga use similar design techniques in their runway collections to garner attention and visibility. Jon bought it from one of the first Off White retailers, an online store from Europe called Antonioli.

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Givenchy, God Bless Givenchy Pullover, Fall/Winter 2015

Purchased from Jeffrey New York, Jon doesn’t wear it often but loves it for sentimental reasons because it reminds him of that trip he took to New York.

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Givenchy, Bambi Printed Pullover, Spring/Summer 2013

Jon purchased it through a Buy/Sell Facebook group from a seller in Paris. While it was a risk, he did some research on the seller and decided to take the chance. He had been looking for it for a while since at the time, this item didn’t come up for sale much as owners were rarely selling it.

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Helmut Lang, Red Striped Denim Jacket Sample, 1996

Jon cites this as one of his most head-turning pieces also adding that he was after it for a while. This piece is significant because Helmut Lang designed it himself and Raf Simons wore it at the end of the Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2013 runway show when he came out to take a bow. Jon bought it through Grailed, a peer-to-peer shopping market specifically for high end men’s fashion. He bought the jacket from Endyma, the largest Helmut Lang archive with 3,000+ pieces. He messaged Endyma about purchasing the jacket and they responded saying all their pieces were for sale and they would be willing to part with it after photographing it for the archive. While there were other hopefuls vying for the jacket, Jon got the money to them first.

What’s special about the jacket is it doesn’t contain any tags as it is the original sample. It also has subtle variances from the version that was eventually commercially produced. This design is currently being re-released by Helmut Lang under designer Shayne Oliver’s direction. This was the most expensive of the four pieces I pulled from his collection.

Raf Simons wears Helmut Lang at the Christian Dior SS13 show

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Comme des Garcons, “Live Free Die Strong” Leather Jacket in Red, 2014

“When I first saw pictures I was amazed,” Jon says, recalling how it made his heart stop. This is Jon’s most prized possession, not pictured in my header photo as I didn’t pull it from his archive. He got it on Grailed from a Parisian seller. There were only 600 jackets produced in this style in red, black, or blue leather. This is another piece Jon had been after for a while, originally seeking out the black version. Jon estimates the red version currently sells for $7,000 USD on eBay while the black goes for $5,000 USD.

Part of what made this purchase so special was what he had to give up to get it. Jon had to sell a few items like archival jewelry and a very rare Raf Simons spiderweb knit wool sweater from the late 1990’s. Jon only had it a few months and in that time he exhibited it in a gallery called Archival Toronto and was the first person to wear it as previous owners had never worn it. In order to get his beloved Comme des Garcons, Jon sold his very rare Raf sweater to David Casavant, the owner of the largest Raf Simons archive whose collection includes many pieces valued at upwards of $10,000 each.

Giovanna Battaglia at Paris Fashion Week in March 2015

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So what else is on his shopping list? Jon named the Givenchy Spring/Summer 2015 collection, citing that he is slowly working on acquiring all the pieces with his partner Madison. He also lists another Helmut Lang denim jacket of similar design to the one he owns and some Saint Laurent pieces. Though he hasn’t bought anything over the last year he anticipates he may see something of interest on his upcoming trip to Paris.

When asked about what makes an item special, Jon cites rarity as his top criteria. “I want to see something rare and I want to be the only one that has it, especially in Toronto,” Jon says. “Something that I can keep and eventually hand down to my kids. At one point I was after items that were very accessible. Things that were affordable or that you didn’t have to go through loops and hoops to get. Now my taste is very specific, one of one. And recently I’m after things that photograph well, that you can take a picture and share it with the designer on Instagram.”

If you’re interested in learning more about archival fashion, Jon names Instagram and Grailed as the places you should start. “Instagram and Grailed will really ignite that in you and make you obsessive,” Jon says. “Follow Endyma, David Casavant, Margiela archive accounts or hashtags like #HelmutLangArchive or #RafSimonsArchive” And if you want to know more about the man himself, be sure to follow Jon on Instagram at @JonathanRightNow to see more of his amazing wardrobe.




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