AVANT Presents Eric Maggiori’s Collection
After three very successful editions of AVANT magazine, the founder, Eric Maggiori, is giving an insight into his incredible collection. The new edition of AVANT will be a special issue showing a collection of very rare historical pieces.
Time to sit down again with Eric to speak about his new upcoming AVANT issue, and highlighting some of the treasures which you can expect. And, the good news is that you can already pre-order it here. Enjoy the interview!
Pictures credits: Alexandre Faraci, Eric Maggiori, DR.
LJ: The first 3 issues of AVANT magazine’s are out, and the first 2 issues were sold-out in a minute. You re-printed the first two issues already. How was the response on the third edition?
EM: Well, third edition is already sold out too…I really can’t believe it. I thought that French workwear would be a topic that would interest less people, but I was completely wrong. It was a huge success here in France, but also in Japan, in the UK, Taiwan, Canada…Many people discovered AVANT thanks to this third issue, and suddenly they wanted to buy the first two issues ! That’s why I went sold-out. I had to reprint the first two. Now they are back in stock, but now third issue is sold out! So I’ll have to reprint it too.
LJ: How do you come up with the new theme of each AVANT magazine?
EM: I don’t really ‘decide’, let’s say I just talk about the things I want to talk about at a certain point. First one was American Workwear because this is my main interest, my passion. Then, when it was done, I wanted to talk about American Militaria, because this is the logical continuation of workwear. Then last February (2020), I went to Inspiration LA with my friend Tom Gruat (@tomgruat), who is a French workwear vintage dealer, and I saw that there was a real interest among buyers and collectors for French workwear, especially the Japanese. So I told Tom we should do the third issue about French Workwear, as it was never done before. And we did it !
LJ: What will be the next theme of AVANT #4? And, what can we expect as content of this issue?
EM: Avant#4 will be about Western Clothing. I just started working on it, and I can already say that the content will be great. We will talk about western shirts, boots, rodeo, cowboys…I’ll try to release it in Fall 2021. But to make my readers wait until then, a special issue of AVANT will be released next month.
LJ: Oh really. A special issue about what?
EM: A special issue about my own collection. It’s called AVANT presents: Eric Maggiori’s collection. 196 pages about my collection, how I started collecting, a lot of pictures and a lot of anecdotes about every single garment I own.
LJ: Why did you decide to do a book about your collection ?
EM: Well, my interest for vintage clothing started in 2003, after a trip to Tokyo with my older brother Mark Maggiori. But I really got into American workwear in 2010 after another trip in LA with my wife. So that was 10 years ago, and I thought it would be a great way to look back on that decade. Ten years of hunting, ten years of learning, ten years of treasures. I love my collection, I can spend hours talking about it, and I really wanted to have all my pieces in one book. Like 196 pages which summarize 10 years of collection. Also, I founded AVANT two years ago, and I thought that opening the doors of my collection would be a good way to make people understand why I am doing all this.
LJ: What is the main focus with your collection? Is there a specific era or styles you’re always looking for?
EM: I collect American workwear and American Militaria, let’s say from the 1870’s to the 1950’s. But my favorite era is definitely the American Gold Rush, with a very special interest in old denim.
LJ: Will this AVANT magazine highlighting your whole collection? Or, are you just focusing on a particular style or period?
EM: All my best pieces are in the book. There are two major parts: American Workwear, and American Militaria. In the American Workwear’s chapter, there are four sub-parts: Gold Rush & Pioneers, Workingmen, JL Stifel & Sons and Wester Wear. Then, in the American Militaria’s chapter, three sub-parts: US Army, US Navy and US Air Force. There are around 100 pieces in total. And also other articles, like « the 5 pieces I owned, sold and now regret » or « my favorite 5 pieces outside of workwear and militaria ».
LJ: Is there one particular item in your collection that you’re the most proud of? And, which one is it, and what makes it your holy grail.
EM: I love many pieces in my collection, it would be impossible to chose one because they all have a particular story. But there is one I am particularly proud of, because I am the only one in the world to have it. I’m talking about my Sweet-Orr overalls, made with Stifel fabric, in deadstock condition. They are dated from the late 1910s, possibly between 1915 and 1920, as there is a red stamp on the back of the suspenders saying: “Patented, Oct. 22, 1912. Re-Issue, June 29, 1915”. To be honest, I never thought I would own such a piece. I love everything about them: the original Sweet-Orr tag, the suspenders, the dark indigo fabric. My only regret is that I don’t know their history. I contacted the person that originally listed them on eBay, and this was her answered: “I purchased those 30 years ago at a flea market for 20 bucks…. they were hung in my son’s room on a peg rack. But I have no idea of the history…”.
LJ: Which item is there still on your wishlist of hard to get pieces?
EM: There is one piece in particular that is on my wishlist. I collect shirts worn by the US Army, because between 1908 and 1945, they’ve only had denim shirts, brown and blue. There are different models and I have all of them. All of them…except the very first one, which is from 1908, and which was worn by the coastal branch of the US Army (CAC), which worked in collaboration with the Navy. It’s a pullover shirt with three flap-pockets, and only very few were made. These days, we only know about four of them, in the whole world. A few years ago, a seller offered me to buy one on Instagram, but I couldn’t afford it. So my friend Nick Soderstrom (@beardedmermaid) bought it, and then sold it to a Japanese dealer. To this day, I still regret it. A few weeks ago, I managed to track down the person who bought it, but he doesn’t want to sell it. And the funny thing about that shirt is that at the start, it was bought at an auction by the family of an ex-veteran. I researched him and wrote an article about him for the second issue of AVANT, and that led me to get in touch with his granddaughter. She saw that I was incredibly passionate about it, and she told me that I had arrived six months too late, but that she would have loved the shirt to end up in my collection. Too bad (Laughs).
LJ: Is collecting and diving into the historical stories behind each item also your drive starting your own Avant magazine?
EM: Of course. Since I started collecting, I’ve heard so many stories, I met so many interesting people. I needed to share them. And as I am a journalist, I though that a magazine would be the best way to share this.
LJ: Are you also going on hunting trips yourself in America? And, can you share on of those moments. And maybe even a catch that you find during one of those trips?
EM: Yes, I try to go at least once a year in the United States, especially in LA or in Colorado to visit my friend Bryan Kahtava (@vanishing_dreams_ofthewest), who is a denim hunter. But to be honest, I now buy vintage clothing almost exclusively on Instagram and eBay. I practically never buy anything from a shop, because they don’t usually have what I’m looking for. Or you need a crazy stroke of luck. A few years ago, I went to a big vintage store on Hollywood Boulevard, which is called Iguana Vintage. It’s huge, hundreds of square meters, with an astounding amount of racks. 99% of the pieces are cheap, 5 or 10 dollars, uninteresting pieces. I stayed for an hour, and went through all the denim jackets, one by one. And at one point, I stumbled upon a USN shawl collar jacket, from World War II. 10 dollars. These strokes of luck never happen, but when they do, you’re happy.
LJ: As you’re highlighting your own collection in the new upcoming AVANT, can we expect in future issues more rare collections from just one collector? So, a sort of exclusive insight into one major collector?
EM: Yes, I would love to. I would love to show other people’s collections. It was easier to do the first one with my own collection, but yes, in the future I would really love to work with other collectors. And not only collectors of clothes!
LJ: When will the new AVANT magazine come out? And, is it already available on pre-order base?
EM: « AVANT presents: Eric Maggiori’s collection » will be available on March 20th. I chose this date because…it’s my birthday ! So, as it’s a book about my collection, it makes senses! And it’s already available for pre-order on the official website: theavantmag.com. And this will be a very limited edition, only 1.000 copies will be printed, so…hurry up !