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Made in USA

Nordstrom got its start as a shoe store when our founder, John W. Nordstrom, set up shop in Seattle in 1901—and to this day, our shoe department remains the cornerstone of our family-run company’s reputation for quality and service. So when our Men’s Shoe Buyers tell us they have something special in the works, we know they mean it.

Keep reading for a closer look at six small-batch brands that our shoe team felt deserve a larger spotlight. They range from American icons with 100-year histories to a future legend founded by a cobbler’s son. The common thread? All six make impeccable shoes and boots right here in the USA.

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Besides making supremely handsome, high-quality timepieces, Detroit-based Shinola is committed to the admirable goal of reviving America’s watchmaking industry—and revving up the Motor City’s economy in the process.

Continue reading for a Q&A with Shinola’s Creative Director, a look at our favorite Shinola watches, and a video depicting the intricate handiwork that goes into every one of Shinola’s USA-made masterpieces.

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Growing up in Aberdeen, Washington, in the 1970s left Gabe Johnson with memories of girlfriends who smelled like bubblegum and vodka, a penchant for explosives, a taste for illicit cartoons—and a zealous sense of nostalgia for America. The “real” America, as he puts it; and specifically, the mom-and-pop treasures that dot the highways and byways of this great nation, in the form of watering holes, record stores, auto shops, and other legendary landmarks that locals hold dear.

The latest undertaking of Johnson’s company, Horses Cut Shop, involves sharing the stories of those local haunts via T-shirts—the sale of which benefits the small businesses themselves.

Shop a few of our favorite shirts at the bottom of this article. First though, join us as we trace the history and influences of Horses Cut Shop, in the words of “Professional Boat Rocker” Gabe Johnson himself:

Origin Story. “Horses Cut Shop was started as unincorporated meeting spot for artists, riffraff, musicians and people who wished to create their own ‘reality,’ if only for one day or night at a time. The world wasn’t giving me what I wanted in terms of community, so in 2009 I decided to create the conditions that would.” [Watch a video about Gabe and said meeting spot that we made last Christmas.]

Smells Like Home. “Horses Cut Shop, as an entity, was styled after the American Fraternal Orders (Moose Lodge, Elks Lodge, Eagles Club, Knights of Columbus, etc.), and the ’70s summers of my youth in Aberdeen. The Cut Shop was a fortified compound in upper Fremont [in Seattle] that smelled like smoky burnouts, farm animals, whiskey, gas, mayhem and the ever-present dangerous machine. (This Flickr link provides photographic evidence of three years spent just under the radar of Seattle’s Finest.)”

A New Hope. “The Cut Shop experience was anchored by a monthly Sunday Brunch that we managed to pull regularly, on a volunteer basis, without fail for three years before the shop closed due to sale of the property by the owner. Ultimately, money was needed to continue the experiment in another location and in a new way. Hence the foray into the T-shirt business. The sale of T-shirts that celebrate and support ‘real’ America, an America that’s hanging on by a thread, seemed in-line with my ultimate goal of preserving and shaping the kind of world I want to live in. The T-shirt business is a vehicle for storytelling and simply a cover for my illicit love affair with America and the riffraff that makes her hum.”

Core Beliefs. “I believe beauty and knowledge can be found in the soul of inanimate objects. I tend to worship things that were built for use, community and to outlast the maker. In this sense, a wrench is like a record store and an old tavern is like a worn-in pair of boots. These objects—these places—are constructed with deliberate intention; they’re the embodiment of the American Dream and the products of our country’s worship of self expression and individualism. I want to acknowledge them and celebrate the creators/makers behind the name and logo.”

Fun Facts:
- I was born and raised in Aberdeen, Washington, along with four generations of my family.
- My favorite place to be is either lost and/or in some type of trouble.
- I’ve been arrested and charged with “Mayhem” twice.
- I believe that if you’re respectful of the differences in disposition and avoid harming others, there are no rules and everything is permitted.
- I believe the America I love peaked during the summer of 1979. Specifically, the evening of July 26th, 1979.
- The slow death of my hometown (Aberdeen, WA) has had the greatest affect on me as person.
- I may or may not have founded The Comstock Commission in 2008.

—  —  —

Under the Influence. Gabe’s influences include, but are not limited to:

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK18NP4kB7U 
Men of Substance. “The Bandit (Burt Reynolds’ character in Smokey and the Bandit), Hunter Stockton Thompson, Jack Tripper (Three’s Company character) and Steve McQueen.”

 
 
Wild Women. “Jane Birkin, The Runaways, Lynda Carter, Nancy Sinatra.”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt0xxAMTp8M
 
Miscellaneous: “That poster of Farrah Fawcett, girls that roller skate, Evel Knievel, being put in/let out of handcuffs, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Apocalypse Now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, skinned knees, cherry bombs. As is probably evident by now, I left my heart in the Aberdeen of the ’70s.” [See Gabe's Tumblr for further odds, ends and vintage awesomeness.]

—  —  —

Made from America. A few of our favorite Horses Cut Shop shirts (which double as a checklist for your next road trip). All are made in the USA and benefit the independent businesses that emblazon them.


L-R: Comet Tavern, Seattle | Amoeba Music, SF | Wolski’s Tavern, Milwaukee
Twin Anchors, Chicago | Hole in the Wall, Austin


L-R: Moby Dick’s, Minneapolis | Kelly’s Olympian, Portland
Pete Paulsen’s House of Wheels, San Leandro | Sunset Sound, Hollywood | Baranof, Seattle

 

SHOP ALL: HORSES CUT SHOP

 
 

[Portrait of Gabe Johnson by Angel Ceballos. Still-life photos courtesy of Horses Cut Shop.]

The Nordstrom Men’s Shop is thrilled to have the opportunity to assist Gorgui Dieng—star center of NCAA national basketball champs the Louisville Cardinals—as he preps for the biggest night of his life: The NBA Draft.

With pro basketball players stepping up their style game across the league, this is no time to go half-hearted in the sartorial department. That’s why we teamed up with famed American suit-makers Joseph Abboud to create two impeccable, made-to-measure suits for Gorgui (who happens to be 6-foot-11)—in a span of only 48 hours.

Our Men’s Shop team met with Gorgui Tuesday morning at the Joseph Abboud showroom in New York, to select fabric swatches, see him through the fitting process, and ensure he has all the tools he needs to pull it together—from ties (he prefers slim) to custom shirts to size 16 shoes.

We’ll also be there for him this afternoon, when the finished suits (one for Draft Night, one for the whirlwind press tour the following day) arrive at Gorgui’s hotel room, to help him suit up for his big night with the utmost confidence that he’s never looked better.

CHECK BACK TOMORROW for an in-depth Q&A with Gorgui,
to see his custom suits in all their splendor, and to find out which NBA team
will be lucky enough to have him on the roster next season.

Buyers, ‘Shoe Dogs,’ Nordstrom brothers—plenty of gentlemen here at Nordstrom wear a suit every day. Here in the online creative department, though, flannel shirts, blazers, denim jackets and desert boots are de rigueur. We look great, don’t get us wrong; it’s just that bona fide suits are few and far between.

That didn’t stop us from jumping at the chance to lay hands on the new Heirloom Collection suits by Billy Reid, when their marketing team left samples at our headquarters the other day. Even the brief encounter documented below left us wishing we didn’t have to return the suits to Billy Reid a few days later; they felt fantastic and fit like a glove, even before a visit to our expert in-store tailors.

Here are some notes on the suits’ incredible fit and quality, courtesy of the Billy Reid team.
Origin: Our Heirloom Collection is produced and manufactured here in the USA, with all fabrications made in Italy.
Construction: The suit construction is 1/2 horsehair canvas, fully lined in a custom cotton/silk printed lining.
Inspiration: This lining was inspired by a fleur-de-lis wallpaper Billy discovered in a Parisian church. [See photos below.]
Fit: The fit is one of the best features—it’s a classically styled suit, but cut a little shorter, with a tailored fit through the shoulder and body. The suits have a 7-inch drop with a flat-front, classic-cut, mid-rise trouser.
Finishes: The suits ship with prepared sleeves and all-natural, dark-horn buttons.

 



This first suit is the Grey/Black ‘Nailhead’ (denoting the subtle speckle pattern) in 100% wool. It’s a mid-weight wool, perfect to wear any time of year (except, perhaps, a sweltering summer in Billy Reid’s home state of Alabama).

Note the maroon-and-mustard printed lining (a subtle pop of fall color that’s built right in), the ‘Made in the USA’ label, and the camel-colored felt under the collar—which appears on every suit here, and is unspoken encouragement to turn up your collar on cold mornings.
{Shop This Suit}

 


Next is a suit made of the same year-round 110s wool as the grey one above—but in a super-versatile, Solid Navy. As you probably know, navy goes with everything: black, brown, khaki. This suit jacket, thanks to its tailored fit, would even look great dressed down with your favorite selvedge jeans.
{Shop This Suit}

 



This third suit is crafted in a thicker, winter-weight wool—in a Black-and-Red Micro Check that’s quintessential for the cold months ahead. Wear it as your outer layer all through fall (supplement with warm accessories and under-layers, as advocated in GQ this month)—then protect it with a killer overcoat when harsher weather arrives.
{Shop This Suit}

 



Finally, Billy Reid’s Navy/Cream Pinstripe suit was our favorite of all. Made with the thickest fabric of the bunch—a 95% wool, 5% cashmere blend—it’s super warm and incredibly soft. Those wider, peaked lapels give it a luxe, ’70s-throwback vibe (and make your shoulders look nice and broad)—but the collection’s signature trim fit keeps things thoroughly modern.
{Shop This Suit}

 
 

[Note: Billy Reid Heritage Collection suits are available at 4 selected Nordstrom stores; but you can order them online—with free shipping and free returns, as with any Nordstrom order—no matter where you live. Detail photos by Justin Abbott.]