WSJ style oracle Jacob Gallagher on '90s Dick Tracy merch...

+ deep eBay spelunking

Jacob Gallagher is a style columnist and the Men’s Fashion Editor at the Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty section. He’s got a sharp eye and a broad range of interests: In recent weeks he’s written about dripping like ‘82 Harrison Ford and delivered a nuanced reappraisal of Michael Jordan’s legendarily 🤔🤔🤔 fashion choices. (Personally we fuck heaaavy with MJ’s old tucked-in-Nike-mockneck looks.)

Jacob’s also a sharp follow on Instagram and Twitter, where, among other things, he flaunts high-level eBay-scouring talents:

Since BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE is the No. 1 source across all media for recon on under-the-radar joints, we hit up Jacob the other day and asked him to tell us about a particularly prized gem he’s mined from eBay’s depths. He chose a promo scarf from 1990’s Dick Tracy…

Blackbird Spyplane: This is great. Why’s it important to you?

Jacob: “I collect souvenir scarves, but for many reasons this one has always been my favorite. I watched Dick Tracy a lot when I was young, and it stayed strong in my mind. I’ve since watched it as an adult, and it’s not as good I remembered, but it was formative. With a lot of comic movies there’s a sense of stripping it down and making it look ‘cool,’ but Dick Tracy leaned into how peculiar and abstract the clothes were in the comics.

“The yellow of his coat is so vibrant and the gangsters are wearing orange and purple, and the cuts are very broad. I’m kind of shocked people in fashion don’t reference it more — the colors remind me of Ozwald Boateng, and the sizing reminds me of, like, Balenciaga shoulder pads.”

Jacob: “So, it’s funny, I look at clothing all day during work, but at night I’ll go on eBay and look at more clothing. I often search for old movie-promo merch, which reminds me: I wanna plug a really good Twitter account called NightPromoting — he posts pictures of weird TV- and movie-merch, like Friends sneakers or a Burger King Star Wars poster. On Instagram the same guy posts movie-premiere red carpet shots as NightOpenings. So anyway there’s a ton of Dick Tracy shirts out there, but a lot of them are XL and I’m not that big. I came across this bandana, though, and I love it. The image is amazing, and the material is so stiff and coarse — it’s 30 years old and it still feels prickly.”

Spyplane: I don’t know anything about souvenir scarves — how’d you get into collecting them?

Jacob: “In college I did a lot of random eBay rabbit-holing where I’d look up ‘vintage ___.’ I think I did a search for ‘vintage cartoon’ and found a Blondie one I've always liked, then I realized there’s this whole world. Most souvenir scarves pertain to a destination: in the mid-20th century you’d buy one during a trip and it’d be like bringing home a snowglobe. You’ll also see scarves that were giveaways. I’ve come across one for, like, a spinach brand, ones for car brands, for the Peanuts. There’s a real range.

Gordon Scott Corey at Santa Fe Vintage

“I spend a lot of time in New Mexico and I've gotten a lot of my scarves at this great warehouse called Santa Fe vintage. The dealer that owned it was a friend of mine named Scott, who died last year, but he had a stack of them — any dedicated vintage store that knows its chops will have a stack of souvenir scarves. In New York, Paula Rubenstein on Chrystie is amazing — she has file cabinets full of them.”

Spyplane: When it comes to pillars of early ‘90s mass-cultural merch, Dick Tracy is up there near Bootleg Bart Simpson and Air Jordan — I actually remember kids at school wearing an amazing Bootleg Bart / Dick Tracy / “Can’t Touch This” shirt back then.

Jacob: “A few years ago I found a great Breathless Mahoney shirt in a size M on Etsy for $150, but I didn’t pull the trigger. Madonna plays her in the movie, and there’s a bunch on eBay, but a lot of people sell reprints, so you’ve got to look closely.”

-Read Jacob Gallagher's Wall Street Journal writing here.
-Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
-You can cop his Dick Tracy bandana here and here.
-Seemingly vintage Breathless Mahoney t-shirt here.
-Night Promoting is on Twitter here and posts archival movie-premiere photos on Instagram here.
-Santa Fe Vintage is on Instagram here.

Photo of Jacob by Phil Oh

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