Affordable fashion, café racers and John F. Kennedy

With my lovely wife moving to Belgium next month, some budgetary optimization will be needed temporarily if we want to keep up our slightly glamorous lifestyle. Plenty of inspiration for future posts there. With that in mind, I was pushed over the edge and into a C&A store. Result: an affordable fix for a long-term craving and a fashionable story that leads all the way to John F. Kennedy. Just do continue reading.

Cover

I do love leather café racer jackets, especially by British brand Belstaff. They carry a hefty price tag, though. Even when the price was cut in half when Superdry knocked them off in 2005, or when Belstaff recently appeared on Zalando, I didn’t want to spend a big chunk of cash on something I would possibly grow tired of quickly.

David Beckham for Belstaff and Superdry

David Beckham was the face of both Belstaff’s and Superdry’s biker vests

When I recently started going to the supermarket by foot, I spotted a frugal way to get my café racer fix. Yes, I do like to pretend that walking there is a way to reduce my carbon footprint and on this occasion, I could easily sell it to you as a way to cut my fuel cost. In reality, parking there is a huge drag. In the same lazy line of thinking, I often cut the walking distance by crossing through a C&A clothing store. While the old Steven wouldn’t be caught dead in C&A threads, the new Steven spotted a smart faux-leather biker jacket. It fitted perfectly and was priced just EUR 59. Convinced that it was a mistake, I snatched a brown and a black version off the rack.

Walking through the store, I quickly realized that C&A just had such a low general price point. While many items have an awkward fit and some try to emulate a clumsy Superdry look-and-feel, other (basic) items are quite OK. Especially slim fit buttoned shirts seem to offer good value.

Fitted shirts

Most items for gentlemen at C&A, including my jackets, are branded Angelo Litrico. This is where the story takes an unexpected, interesting and historical turn.

In the early 1950’s Angelo Litrico was a tailor’s apprentice whose work was noticed by Italian glitterati and quickly rose to national fame, which allowed him to purchase the store he worked in. Keen to promote his services, he was the first to ever put on a men’s fashion show. Prior to Litrico, the catwalk was strictly reserved for women.

When Litrico was invited to participate in a 1957 mission to promote Italian exports to Russia, Angelo used pictures to tailor a coat for Nikita Khrushchev. Impressed with his work, Khrushchev ordered a full wardrobe for his famous trip to the USA in 1959. Remember when he slammed his shoe on the table at the United Nations General Assembly? Those shoes were part of the wardrobe by Litrico.

Angelo Litrico

The well-dressed Soviet premier directed attention to the Italian tailor, making him instantly famous. Litrico became the tailor to the statesman, dressing John F. Kennedy, Juan Peron, Tito, Dwight D. Eisenhower and King Hussein of Jordan.

When Angelo Litrico died in 1986, at age 58, his company passed to his sister Giusi and brother Franco, rebranding it to Franco Litrico. Franco’s son did exactly the same, rebranding to Luca Litrico when he took over in 2004. The High Fashion line by Maison Litrico is supplemented by a ready-to-wear collection, which is not intended to open up a great deal to the public. Quite ironic, given the fact that a cheap off-the-rack collection bears the company founder’s name.

My research could not reveal how and when the Angelo Litrico trademarks ended up in the possession of the COFRA Holding behind C&A.

A double fix of my café racer craving and an interesting story. Not bad a bad day, right?

Fitting room

PS: I’m still working on making selfies and smartphone pictures that are actually in focus 🙂

One Response to “ Affordable fashion, café racers and John F. Kennedy ”

  1. Thomas Arney

    JFK would be called a fascist by current media standards.

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