Cragg Eubanks does not look like a fashion guy. With his close-cropped mustache, Wranglers and good-ol'-boy twang, he seems more like a wildcatter—but after a long career in the oil industry, that's hardly a surprise. What is surprising: His unparalleled treasure trove of amazing vintage jackets, cowboy boots and other goods in his new shop, L'Equipe, inside the Antiques & Interiors pavilion in River Oaks.
Vintage cars and motorcycles are Eubanks' central passion—he's hoping to have a Ferrari inside his shop as soon as he can get a little more space—and through the decades, as he delved deeper into the world of mid-century motors, his interest expanded to cover the whole post-World War II American lifestyle. He picked up motorcycle jackets and bomber jackets (you can tell the latter are genuine because the collars are marked with "USN" in white), kitschy silk scarves, silver belt buckles, embroidered cowboy shirts, fringe deerskin coats and more.
From rock to surf to rockabilly, Eubanks points out that the clothes and accessories on display are the trappings of cool Americana that dominated pop culture from the 1940s to the 1960s and beyond, as seen on everyone from Elvis and the Beatles to Steve McQueen. Before moving back to Houston from North Texas a couple years ago, Eubanks ran Ghost Motors Clothes in Wichita Falls, which had a cult following among celebs looking for the genuine article. His biggest buyer was Ralph Lauren, who posed in one distressed leather bomber jacket that Eubanks' sold him in an ad campaign, but would more frequently turn around and sell the coats at his RL Vintage store in Manhattan for two or three times the price. (Most of the goods at L'Equipe are priced between $400 and $1,000.)
Eubanks says that while most of the items in the shop are from the 1940s and 1950s, he pulls in whatever catches his fancy, from charm bracelets made from Monte Carlo casino chips and highball glasses from the Playboy Club in Chicago to early-era bowling shoes and Omega trench watches from World War I, plus books, art, bags and racing trophies. The small red booth is just "the tip of the iceberg" of his extensive collections, says Eubanks, who after opening his shop in December is already poised to double his space inside Antiques and Interiors and has plans to expand even more.
In addition to all his collections, Eubanks has also tracked down the companies that manufactured some of the best vintage goods and formed contracts with them to become the exclusive distributor of their new clothing lines, authentic reproductions of classic American designs. L'Equipe will soon be the only place in Houston to find new Rockmount Ranch Wear Western shirts (the inventor of the diamond snap-button shirts favored by Bob Dylan and Paul Newman), tees and polos by Suixtil (the iconic, unofficial uniform of Formula 1 drivers in the 1950s and '60s), impossibly supple leather jackets by Lewis Leathers (as worn by The Beatles), Kamehameha silk Hawaiian shirts (which basically invented the concept in the 1930s) and boots by Wesco, Paul Bond and Gold Top.
In the same way that putting on a leather jacket makes you look a little cooler, just knowing this shop exists, full of perfectly distressed leather jackets makes Houston seem that much cooler. What can I say? Antiques rock.
L'Equipe is located inside Antiques & Interiors at 2311 Westheimer Rd.