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Procell Instagram NYC vintage
via @procell

Brian Procell has some of NYC’s best cult vintage

With an Instagram archiving everything from Gucci ashtrays to Dr. Dre tees, @procell is this week’s must follow

“When you front like you're a store but you really just a museum for tight ass shit,” runs a recent caption on vintage collector and store-owner Brian Procell’s Instagram account, @procell. When it comes to his NY boutique, that sentiment pretty much sums it up – nestled on the Lower East Side, inside you can find pieces from high fashion runway collections sitting alongside the likes of bootleg tees and cult band merch. 

Disappointed with the city’s vintage offering and the lack of products curated in tune with the trends on the streets of New York, Procell opened shop in December 2012. Four years on and it’s become one of New York’s best shopping destinations for those in the know – with customers including models like Molly Bair, musicians like Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean, and a host of the city’s young tastemakers. But for those who can’t swing by in person, the @procell Instagram account has become a go-to source for archive fashion inspiration, posting everything from bootleg double-G Gucci tees and faded Pamela Anderson tops, to Jean Paul Gaultier’s denim corsets and much sought-after cropped bomber jackets. Here founder Brian Procell talks us through his mission. 

Who are you, and where did ‘Procell’ come from?

Brian Procell: My name is Brian Procell – I’ve been living and working in NYC since I was 18. Procell is my father’s family name – he’s from Ecuador and when he got here he added another ‘l’ to make sure people would get the spelling right, he’s from a large family and I think it was his way of just being different and setting himself apart. When I was trying to think of names of names for the shop, I settled on my last name since the store is a direct reflection of my aesthetic. I’m not really making or designing any new product so the common theme of the store is that everything has my seal of approval, it’s all handpicked by Procell.

So what’s the story behind the store?

Brian Procell: Throughout my 20s I was doing a lot of work behind the scenes – providing vintage reference and sourcing inspiration for designers from my archive. I was basically shopping full-time for my clients and frequenting many of the vintage shops all over New York City. Most of the time I would feel very disappointed with what was available – it seemed like all of the stores were run by people that were severely out of touch, with shopkeepers that couldn't relate to the youth who influenced trends on the streets of New York. Although many stores stocked industry staples, none of them successfully mixed in progressive examples of contemporary secondhand goods. A person would have to arduously thrift in order to find cool clothing that was 10 or 15 years old.

“You won't find another store selling 90s hardcore tees, bootleg hip-hop tees, vintage Chanel runway pieces and cult classics like the North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger” – Brian Procell

So the store owners didn’t quite get it?

Brian Procell: I felt that many of the shops were not fully understanding many of the subcultures they were referencing. They might have had a grasp on 70s and 80s punk and new wave but were clueless when it came to 90s graffiti culture, street skating, and so on. As someone who was genuinely interested in all of these influential subcultures I certainly felt like there was a void that needed to be filled. I wanted all of the subcultures to be represented and showcased in a respectful way, by someone who has taken the time to learn about them and live them. That’s what I did with Procell. The store is comprised of a bunch of different collections I've amassed since I was 18 – if something was cool and important to some subculture I've spent time creating a collection of it. I wanted my shop to be a reflection of my larger archive. You won't find another store selling 90s hardcore tees, bootleg hip-hop tees, vintage Chanel runway pieces and cult classics like the North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. I have been living and learning about this stuff since I was a kid, so everything in the shop is a piece I’ve handpicked myself.

How do you go about selecting products for Procell?

Brian Procell: Before Procell opened I felt like most vintage boutiques would concentrate on male or female clientele. I make a concerted effort to make sure that selections for both are on point. We're proud to say that we crush it for everyone. My philosophy is no filler – every piece has to be strong on its own. We are extremely eclectic, at any given time Prada can be living next to Nautica and Stone Island can be living next to Fendi. It all coexists harmoniously in the shop and the common thread is that each piece is cool and a tried and true fashion statement. You can always find ready to wear apparel mixed with sportswear, alongside plenty of graphic tee shirts. I can’t give away where I source, but let’s just say I’m always shopping – be it in a retired grandma’s basement, a hoarder’s old warehouse from the 90s, or the street where I’ve bought a jacket off a man’s back many times. I have literally shopped everywhere!

Why is the Bowery the perfect location for Procell?

Brian Procell: The shop is directly in front of the Bowery J train station, which is the train I take from my home in Brooklyn to get to the store. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I love how central our location is. NoLita and Soho are a five-minute walk. We are right where the Bowery starts to meet Chinatown and for me, this area has always been the centre of my NYC life. The Bowery ballroom is across the street where I spent many nights as a teenager going to concerts. Even my first apartment was in this same neighbourhood. It’s a little dirty and is not all glossy and overdeveloped like much of Manhattan, but it’s real NYC.

“I hope that people realise I’m a keeper of culture – not a culture vulture. I’m someone who really appreciates and has taken the time to learn about the items in my shop and archive” – Brian Procell

How would you describe your clientele?

Brian Procell: Designers, models, DJs, artists, rappers – the NYC downtown creative set. Kids who found us on Instagram, vintage heads from all over the world, pretty much anyone and everyone, young and old. I love it when the shop gets full and we have all kinds of different people coming together, vibing in the shop. 

What does the Procell aesthetic reveal about you?

Brian Procell: I hope that people realise I’m a keeper of culture – not a culture vulture. I’m someone who really appreciates and has taken the time to learn about the items in my shop and archive.