Mr. Italo and I were having an email chat about the launch of Leica’s Hermes M7. For those unfamiliar with this camera, it is one of an ongoing series of commemorative and special edition Leicas intended to fleece the collector or status seeker with tons more money than good sense. While these cameras are a travesty, Leicaphiles have tended to turn an embarrassed blind-eye on them, acknowledging that a company like Leica can only keep doing all the good stuff it does by an occasional venture into high-end prostitution. But the M7 Hermes is a weird camera from the get-go because it’s a film camera. Yes, you heard me right, a film camera! Clearly intended as an instant collectible rather than a “user” since, let’s face it, film is dead (kept on life-support by a handful of “crsftsmen” and dinosaurs). The camera will retail for $14,400 USD including one lens (oh, yeah, they’re also throwing in the light hood for that price).
It was however, Mr. Italo’s last response that piqued my fightsomeness. He wrote:
“It’s all about vintage fashion not technology. Similar to some of your 10 essential items from today’s blog [italics mine]”.
Vintage fashion? While that’s a pretty cool term, I really can’t agree that the items in my list qualify (well, maybe a couple). Vintage fashion would be a gold slide-rule. Perhaps a buggy-whip made from silk. You get my drift…vintage fashion is something technologically obsolete that one uses and clings to because it connects them with a real or imagined past. Maybe the Parker ’51. I’ll grant you that one (although it still writes better than most modern pens…it does tend to leak in an airplane).
But every item in my list represents products that while certainly traditional in some elements of their design or construction, are completely capable of competing with their more modern counterparts on a variety of dimensions including, design, style, build-quality, durability, and even, yes, performance. The Aeron chair for example, remains the benchmark of modern office comfort. The Leica M9 is the world’s smallest full-frame digital camera. Look under any corporate boardroom table and I’ll bet you that 80% of the shoes will be “old men shoes”. And Rolex watches….what can I say…..vintage style, Bah!
And oh, yes, I agree with Mr. Italo…the Leica Hermes M7 is a great example of “vintage fashion”.