americana

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.]

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If you’ve caught much Fashion Week coverage, either on this site or elsewhere, you’ve likely realized: The collections that visionary designers send down runways are in fact NOT explicit instructions on how they’d like to see you—the average, intelligent, style-aware male—dress yourself come next season.

What these spectacles of immaculately crafted clothing-as-art do provide, if approached with an open mind, is a window into  the extreme end of a designer’s current mindset. The best among them translate their inner vision into a performative presentation that makes you think—and no one puts on a more thought-provoking show than Thom Browne.

While previous Thom Browne productions (and they truly are that, with models not just walking, but often enacting odd tasks in surreal environments) have tackled aspects of Americana—preps, punks, astronauts—his most recent, Spring 2014, unveiled in Paris yesterday, is the first to hoist a patriotic color palette of red, white and blue. There were even stars and bars imprinted on the train of an elaborate officer’s coat (left) and the midriff of the red jacket at right.

To be fair, conventionally anti-menswear motifs like sleeveless coats, doily-trimmed socks, and, well, skirts, may have suggested a subversive satire on nationalism. Browne himself left his message open-ended as always, though—so we’re going to take it as all the more reason to go all-American for Independence Day this Thursday. Shop our favorites below, and more options here: Americana.



Obey tank top | Brixton hat | Sub_Urban Riot tank top
O’Neill board shorts | O’Neill tank top | Fossil watch

 

Clearly an expert multi-tasker, Browne also designs womenswear—as well as Moncler Gamme Bleu, an experimental, sport-inspired men’s line for down-jacket innovators Moncler. Recent collections have delved deep into the sartorial treasure troves of fencing, Indy racing and the Highland Games. Spring ’14, presented in Milan recently, took a fresh look at the traditional British game of cricket.

While a lot of critics (read: internet trolls) have been hung up on the black lips (perhaps a riff on cricketers’ predilection for zinc cream; definitely a classic TB move to confound audiences and contrast the otherwise clean-cut aesthetic)…we’re more focused on the crisp mix of whites.

Around the office, our men’s team has already been favoring white-on-white everything lately—and Browne’s blown-out dissertation on the subject pretty much solidifies it as a go-to way of getting dressed, both this summer and next. To do it right, mix tones, textures and fabrications as Browne does above. (And skip the lipstick.)



BLK DNM leather jacket | Pierre Balmain jeans | T by Alexander Wang tank top
Timex watch | Rag & Bone shirt | Converse by John Varvatos sneakers

 
 

[Instagram photos via @thombrowneny, @moncler, and @grungygentleman. Individuals mentioned and pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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In an homage to the anonymous geniuses who engineered the everyday works of art (like street signs, film stills, and home interiors) that found their way onto Sam Shipley’s and Jeff Halmos’s Spring 2013 inspiration board, the NYC design duo loosely titled their new collection The Unknown Artist.

Despite that (or perhaps because of it), the S&H guys—masters of wry humor as well as rounding out your wardrobe—decided to cast 6 not-so-unknown artists in the stylish faux-portrait above. Below, Sam and Jeff of Shipley & Halmos discuss an artwork by each modern master that has, in some way, influenced their own aesthetic. Click each artist’s name to learn more.


1. Joseph Beuys, I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974. “Beuys as an artist might be as iconic as the works he created. You’ve seen his trademark hat, and always wondered what it would be like to wear one of his felt suit sculptures.”


2. Keith Haring, ‘Crack is Wack’ Mural, 1986. “When driving through Harlem on the way back down to Manhattan, you can see this original Keith Haring mural from 1986, one of the finest examples of graffiti art in the world. So happy the city of NY has kept its condition in such great shape. It’s inspiring each and every time we see it.”


3. Pablo Picasso, Chien, Coq Et Pierrot, 1970. “What can we say about Picasso that hasn’t already been said? The guy was a master, and is almost always a reference point for us. His detailed sketches, such as this one, inspired some of our recent print work.”


4. Roy Lichtenstein, Still Life with Portrait, 1974. “This particular Lichtenstein painting inspired a T-shirt graphic a few seasons back. Our rendition included a frosty beer, hamburger, fries, and framed picture of MJ circa 1988.”


5. Richard Prince, Untitled (From ‘Cowboy’ Series), 1980-1992. “Prince’s Cowboy series is an interesting example of blending classic Americana with a modern pop-art feel. The works are currently being shown [through April 6] at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles. As a present-day artist, Prince is so versatile in almost every medium.”


6. David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967. “During the winter doldrums, flip open a book of Hockney’s work (one of Jeff’s personal favorites)—especially his Pool series. The color palette and subject matter instantly reminds you that summer is almost here!”

 
 
 

[Portrait collage and artwork images courtesy of Shipley & Halmos. All artwork is © the artists noted. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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