Resale prices don’t paint the whole story of Simons’s fandom, of course, but the hype around his vintage clothes has helped turn the vintage menswear market into a micro economy of its own. What the bomber jacket proved is that Simons has always been ahead of the game. When he added David Bowie and Bauhaus patches to a standard-issue army jacket, he created not so much a garment, but an obsession. When Raf collectors talk about the item today, it’s identified not just by the year and the season it was released, but also the collection name and how it was part of one of his seminal seasons.
This archive obsession around the designer is part of a wider “archival” movement that has been dominating menswear over the past five years. Online resell platforms like Grailed, where the $47,000 bomber was sold, along with eBay, Depop, Selfridges’s own RESELLFRIDGES concept and a whole slew of archival-focused Instagram dealers and dedicated fan pages has meant that access and awareness around covetable designers like Raf and many others is greater than ever. In a 2017 talk with the designer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, longtime Simons collaborator Sterling Ruby professed admiration for it: “I really like the Grailed phenomenon… An entirely younger demo is looking at [clothing] from a collector’s perspective.”