Never Too Old For Streetwear

Never Too Old For Streetwear

Never Too Old For Streetwear

SoHo has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Once the preserve of the beatniks, the freaks and anybody who felt like they didn’t fit in, or that they wanted to go just a bit further; SoHo is now being gentrified, the locals are moving out because of higher rents and the changing communities. The creative energy, the colours, the freedom of thought and expression, the all encompassing madness of SoHo is fading fast. But remnants remain, and one such person who links the present with that fondly-remembered past is Charles Allcroft.
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Referred to as a “Streetwear God”, the 74 year old former professor of art history is a regular feature in London’s streetwear and fashion world, still passionate about the newest and latest fashions, still full of energy and life.
Charles worked as a playwright and performance artist for 25 years, as well as teaching art at the School of Visual arts. With a particular focus on Indian and Tibetan arts, his art mixes with his knowledge of jazz, his academia and his endless energy to produce the passionate, creative and fascinating person he is. They say people live several lives in one lifetime, Charles Allcroft is a great example of that. Turning from academia to streetwear, working in a bookstore to support his passion for all things hoodies and beanies, he says that his friend Joseph Lamonica “inspired me to read about streetwear and go to places like Dave’s Quality Meat, aNYthing, NORT/RECON, and Memes”. He clearly knows his stuff.

Some think that streetwear is the sole preserve of the young. Charles Allcroft turns that assumption on its head. Not only does he have impeccable taste in streetwear and all things in general, he pulls it off: he looks good in them. Confidence goes a long way, and Charles looks confident. Passion does that to a guy. He has met everyone and seen everything, not that he would brag about it. What Charles is looking for is distinctive design, attention to detail and a “look”. We all know about the “look”, but spotting it is harder than it sounds. Charles Allcroft has the eye.

In the decades he has spent dedicated to the quest for the best streetwear, Charles has encountered designers and labels from across the world. From African designers like N’ketiah Brakohiapa and Moshood to Enyce and fragment. His girlfriend, the artist Annette Weintraub (check out her work, it is easy to see why she and Charles get on so well), lives with him in their SoHo loft apartment, which is artfully bedecked with distinctive artworks and textiles from around the world. A creative duo, they seem to feed off each other’s passions and creativity to inspire their work and collections.

If the clothes are important, the process is more so, or so it seems for Charles. For years, he would get a weekly drop of new clothes from Supreme in Lafayette. The staff got to know him and started putting aside a bag of clothes on drop day for “Mr. 630”, because he would come at half past 6 in the evening for the “fire” shirts, hoodies or whatever else they had. This is characteristic of the man, he gets to know people, they come to love him, and he adds more fascinating people and objects to the swirl of his life.

That swirl has taken him all over the world and to all the best streetwear shops from the past few decades. Travelling in America, Europe and Africa, he has seen brands come and go, designers grow and mature, the arrival of the internet and modern shopping habits. The fall of the shop front store might worry him but he doesn’t let on, admiring new shops or refurbished ones like Extra Butter while fondly remembering Ale Et Ange, which closed their shop several years ago. It is all part of the evolution of streetwear and it looks like Charles is too much involved in the new and the fresh to get down about stuff that isn’t here anymore.

The relationship between art and clothes, between a city and the nightlife, the way people express themselves and the way they perceive others, it all adds up in this inspiring man’s head to a unique and valued perspective. He has seen a lot in his time, worn a lot of clothes, met nearly everybody in the business. He is in with rappers and skaters, there are YouTube videos of the guy, he just shares his passion with whoever he can and those real people respond. He is a fascinating guy to be around, a natural storyteller and just brimming with life.
His collections are fascinating, they are broad in scope but all bear the distinctive style that appeals to him. The collection of “fire” gear really appeals to Charles, the process of collecting and finding the clothes is cool but the combining and the creation of new looks is what really gets him going. He tries to nurture individualism: he talks a lot about the unique “eye” each person has and the development of their style. It is about “their own vision”, not just having the current clothes but the unique combinations only a developed sense of style can bring.

In short, Charles Allcroft is inspiring. To have that sense of style at any time of life would be an achievement. To have that amount of energy at 74 is incredible. To be so knowledgeable and passionate, and to share that passion, that is something else. He defies boundaries (if he sees them in the first place), makes his own way and seems to enjoy himself immensely along the way. What more could a person want?

When asked for his thoughts on the state of streetwear, Mr. Allcroft replied “Pryce Holmes of Supreme, Palace and Alltimers said it best: “It’s not about the clothes. It’s about the people”. Things are looking good, as long as we have people like Charles Allcroft around.

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