There are always those go-to pieces in your wardrobe, but what about the go-to pieces that endure? We’re talking the style staples that are perennially chic: the denim jacket, the military field jacket, the ringer tee. These are the pieces you’ll want to wear for a lifetime, and if you can find them already perfectly broken-in, so much the better. That was the mindset of Nick Friedberg and Jamie Haller as they launched ICONS, a collection of vintage finds that resonate with their own history while feeling current for today.
While shopping the East Los Angeles thrift-store scene for inspiration references, Friedberg and Haller—the duo that creates soft-to-the-touch, lived-in-feeling pieces for NSF—unearthed a treasure trove of high-grade Levi’s 501 jeans, 1930s military parkas, and easy ponchos. Finding the pieces in the large quantities sparked the idea for a collection of genuine vintage pieces that with a broken-in but timeless feel. The duo takes us behind the scenes on one of these sourcing trips through the photos below.
“Jamie and I have some unique resources from being vintage lovers and collectors over the past twenty-plus years,” Friedberg tells us of the process of tracking pieces down. “We’ve met and forged relationships with a global network of hunters who share our love, and we tapped these resources while curating these offerings.”
The phrase “vintage lovers” is perhaps an understatement, as all one has to do is hear the duo talk about their finds to feel their whole-hearted passion come through. “For me, it’s raw and emotional,” Haller gushes. “It’s always about a unique and crafted cut, a worn down patina, a history. It’s something you see in the cast of the tint, in the wear and abrasion patterns. It’s not something that you can really articulate—you just know it’s insanely cool. When you combine that style element with a story and realize the history behind the vintage, it really ties it all together.”
And those pieces have built the core of ICONS. Each garment is individually hand-picked by Friedberg and Haller, and each piece in the collection is labeled with its era, garment type, and provenance. Some stories are sad—finding out that a 1950s Marine Corp jacket once belonged to a pilot shot down during the Korean War—while others are heroic and triumphant—like an Army lieutenant who went on to serve as Secretary of State following World War II. “Sometimes, a piece chooses us, and we can’t imagine not having it within the collection,” Haller says.
As far as the name of the collection, ICONS, it was the only name the designers even considered. “It is a very literal and yet emotional way to describe what we are offering,” Haller tells us. “The collection is a curation of the most iconic vintage pieces in the world. They are the archetypes for modern casual wear.”
While the pieces are truly vintage, each has been given a modern update with the addition of the brand’s signature: three white stars. “The star print, which is hand-stamped on each piece, is a way of branding that’s easily recognizable,” Friedberg says of the addition. “Although every piece is individual, un-altered, and unique, we felt it was important to add an element so that it’s that much more special.”