Chris Olberding of Gitman Vintage
Since discovering a selection of original line books from the Gitman Bros archive dating back to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Chris Olberding remains dedicated to the unearthing and reissuing of vintage prints for modern day through his enthusiasm and passion for the brand’s rich history. Released under the Gitman Vintage sub-label, the reinterpretted styles celebrate the library of vibrant designs and an in-house line, whilst incorporating the brands established reputation for precision, quality and comfort which remains prevalent to this day.
Taking pride in a focus on quality and fabric, Gitman are known as one of the few shirt wear factories left in the USA where both the established heritage of the brand and the high level of skill passed down from generations remains intact. Intrigued by the development of Gitman Vintage and Chris Olberding’s love for travel, tennis and of course, shirts, we caught up with him following the introduction of styles at Always in Colour, to find out a little more.
AIC: There's a real labour of love when it comes to the Gitman print selection and production, tell us about your favourite part of the process. Are there any signature details that really set the shirts apart from others?
Chris: My favorite part is the discovery! More so when the discovery is realized in the finished product. Many a time you find something that’s great print-wise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to translate well into a shirt - it can be color, repeat of design, or a handful of other variables. Our shirts are set-apart by their quality and solidity, not to mention that there are just a handful of shirt makers left in the USA. Some of the hallmarks of a Gitman shirt are: double-track stitching, chalk buttons and our label.
AIC: What is your favourite relic from the Gitman archives that you’ve uncovered?
Chris: The linebooks from the early 1980s! Wonderfully laid out in a great format and a treasure trove of texture and color.
AIC: And what is your most memorable story or character from American shirt history?
Chris: The Gitman Brothers: Alfred and Shelly Gitman. They were identical twins and you could only tell them apart by who wore solid vs plaid.
AIC: Speaking of which, Gitman Shirts are recognized and appreciated all over the world, where is the most unusual place you’ve spotted a shirt?
Chris: Great question. I can spot a GV shirt from a mile away and have seen many on the city streets and elsewhere, but one of my favorite sightings was while I was walking back from dinner in Paris across the Pont Royal, and noticed a guy taking a photo of his girl while wearing a GV pin-up print. I naturally took a photo of him taking a photo and the conversation ensued and then we all took a photo together. It was a meta-instagram moment, but fun and spontaneous as I usually never say to a GV wearer “hey you’re wearing our shirt!”… I simply just smile or say nice shirt.
AIC: Sounds like a fun moment and a nice surprise for them too! Can you tell us a little more about SS19, it’s inspired by your love of tennis right?
Chris: It was a long time coming and was prompted by the collaboration we did with New Balance which launches late July for the US Open. But I play often and always try to find a way to bring my passion into my work. Initially I was inspired by the court surface colors of the grand slams, but that spread to other aspects of tennis style, namely color and print.
AIC: What print processes do you use? Do you follow traditional techniques inspired by the original fabrics or does modern technology take centre stage?
Chris: We use quite a few, but nowadays tech is king in helping pave the way.
AIC: Do you have a favourite ethos that you live by?
Chris: Don’t take anything for granted.
AIC: And any daily rituals?
Chris: Other than brushing my teeth?!? Stretching.
AIC: What was the last song you listened to?
Chris: “All The Critics Love U In New York” by Prince. Random shuffle on my iPhone as I drove into the city last night after a long day at the factory. Song before that: “Smooth Operator” by Sade, and to hammer home the random - the song before that: “Gute Nacht” by Franz Schubert. Can’t make up that trio.
AIC: Wow, what a selection! What else has captured your attention this week?
Chris: Many things, but I forgot.
AIC: From your own wardrobe collection, tell us about your favourite piece/s.
Chris: Well, I have a nice assortment of shirts! I always seem to have a good stack of Orslow pants, quite a few pieces of outerwear from Fennica, but my favorite new addition is a pair of unlined chocolate brown suede lace-ups from Trickers. Oh and some wonderful patch work Gore-tex ski bibs from Chamonix based mountaineer brand Millet.
AIC: You’re an avid traveller aren’t you, what are your essentials for a successful trip?
Chris: A well planned trip always allows leave room for improvisation. I travel to lots of different places, but my essentials are a baseball cap, small knit cap, my ever-ready soft-shell from Montbell, along with my noise canceling headphones - these items get a lot of use.
AIC: What are your plans for the summer?
Chris: French Open, Europe for market, ski-camp, trip to Chile, US Open.
Sounds like a good summer ahead, thank you Chris and and safe travels! If you’re feeling spoilt for choice, we’ve selected our favourite Gitman styles for the season, but be sure to take a look at the full range which is available online now.
View the Gitman Vintage collection here.
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