The art of curating vintage American sportswear
A conversation with Good Form in Chicago about rethinking American classics
Vintage is one of those words that feels rich in meaning but equally empty.
Carhartt jackets are ubiquitous.
Band t-shirts are a dime-a-dozen.
You can get Levis anywhere.
Much of the secondhand landscape is overrun by the same sellers selling the same stuff. It’s not that vintage is meant to be exclusive—though, there are many delightful grails to behold—instead, vintage is supposed to offer a sense of wonder, a portal somewhere else.
Wearing vintage is an appreciation for the past and acknowledging that the best shit can’t be outdone. That’s why we call them classics.
So in a sea of sameness, when you meet someone doing things differently in this space, it’s fresh air.
And that’s Good Form. Owner Cale Darrell is bringing vintage back to life, helping us rethink how to integrate tired pieces into our wardrobes.
He’s one of the best fucking curators I’ve ever met and is someone to keep your eye on in the world of menswear.
I hope you enjoy this brief sit-down I had with Cale, with absolutely phenomenal photography by the homie Christopher Semel, based in Chicago. Please check out his work.
And PLEASE follow Good Form on Instagram.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Cale Darrell, and I'm the owner/operator of Good Form. Over the last decade, I've searched for what drives me, and I’ve finally found a comfortable space with what I’m building with Good Form and my personal style. It’s consistency.
My uniform is simple, and while my closet doesn't necessarily grow, I do cycle in new vintage pieces that inspire me. Ultimately, I'm a curator at heart, and I don't overthink it anymore.
For me, personal style is more of a feeling than anything else.
Which is refreshing because vintage is mostly saturated these days. How'd you land on that niche?
Good Form is like if Jeff Spicoli and 90s airport style had a love child!
Good Form is a contemporary take on the classics pulled from different eras.
My first goal is to educate people on how to style secondhand clothing alongside clothing they already own. And second, present you with clean, ready-to-wear garments that have stood the test of time.
There's a reason why a pair of WWII HBT trousers can sit next to a Bengal stripe Ralph shirt or why J.Crew just copied a pair of military chinos. You don't get more classic than that.
Shopping *confidently* for vintage clothing online is hard, and ultimately I wanted to make that process easier.
Obviously, I can't take full credit for where I'm at; the pioneers before me made one hell of an assist. Brands like L.L. Bean, Ralph, Eddie Bauer, and big department stores… paved the path for me.
I'm merely curating the very best of what they created for us.
What's your curation process like?
I follow a specific guide while sourcing, and if it fits into that guide, I will sell it.
To provide a better curation experience, I tend to focus on stuff that’s made in the USA, got vibrant colors, and has strong brand awareness.
I'm not one to hoard; I'll sell you the sweat off my back.
I'm in the business of catch & release. I like finding good pieces and sending them off to their forever homes.
Being a one-person team has its ups and downs. It sometimes gets pretty heavy trying to do more than sell old clothing. My online presence takes a lot of time and energy, but at the end of the day, it's a clear representation of me, and that makes me happy.
Style genres are blending together more than ever. Where does Good Form fit into that?
I don't want to be put in a box or put anyone else in one.
Good Form is for everyone. Not only is it intended to be classic and timeless, but it's supposed to be fun!
There's a seriousness to the business, but I never take it too seriously.
Got any crazy stories from going to these estate sales?
A few years ago, I woke up and went to a sale super late. I knew all the regulars would be there early, so I waited until the smoke had cleared. As I walked into the house, I glanced at the "LIST" of who came early; sure enough, everyone had been through it already. It was just three older women running the estate and me.
They told me the basement/garage was off-limits because of trash and other debris, but I begged them to let me go into the garage. I gave them $20 to let me go to the garage, and as soon as I stepped in, I found four incredible collectible "coal" tote bags. I walked them into the house, and they gave them to me for free.
It's one of my greatest "scores" to date.
What eras in menswear do you find most fascinating, and how is that reflected in the shit you sell?
My range is diverse, but I like different eras for different reasons.
For instance, I appreciate the WW2 era because I love the weight and construction of fatigues and other military uniforms.
The stuff that was really meant to last and has done so.
I also like the 70s because the outerwear was great and designed to climb a mountain while looking good, too.
What's ahead for the Good Form empire?
I'm working on a project I can't wait to share with everyone. Overall, I’m just grateful for everyone’s support to date, I couldn’t do it without you.
Let's just say that the upcoming Spring/Summer drops will be some of the best I've ever done.