A few weeks ago I had the honor of heading to NY to represent the Lands’ End Canvas brand for our Spring/Summer 2012 Preview event.
An awesome band, great food, Wisconsin Beer, and a blank Canvas where each person attending the event had the opportunity to paint whatever they were feeling at the time…..all surrounded by cool clothes and fun people.
Check out some of the pics below of the event, the product, and some shots of The Wanda’s closing out the event with a bang.
Over 100 years ago, men who worked at sea were at the mercy of the elements. Rain, wind, and waves were an everyday part of life, with no protection being offered by their clothing.
The story goes….that in order to survive the icy water, these men would take their clothing, usually made from the remains of wind torn sails and rub them with linseed oil. The oil would penetrate the fabric and create a waterproof barrier against the elements.
At the end of the 1880’s, British Millerain began to develop fabrics for the military, sea-farers, and anyone else that needed relief from the elements.
Today, over 100 years later….people are still using the fabric recipe’s that has been passed along for 6 generations by this family company to make waterproof fabrics much the same way they did on ships in the 1800’s.
Anywhere you see the British Millerain logo….you know its a quality fabric. Check out some of the ways we used it in the Holiday Lands’ End Canvas line.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the legendary band Pearl Jam. In commemoration of that achievement the band has recently release a new documentary directed by Cameron Crowe called Pearl Jam 20.
This will be the second time you’ve seen Pearl Jam in a movie directed by Cameron Crowe. The band could also be seen in Crowe’s cult classic Singles. The film perfectly captured the look and feel of early nineties Seattle grunge and it is with that inspiration that we should take a second look at the garment that best symbolized the movement, the flannel shirt.
The flannel shirt has been the Superman’s cape for Pearl Jam front man, Eddie Vedder since the beginning. He wore one in the videos for Alive and Even Flow and when Pearl Jam performed on SNL following the death of Kurt Cobain; it was a flannel shirt that Eddie pushed aside to reveal the K-C that he had written over his heart.
Now, the flannel is back. You could speculate the fashion is simply cyclical. You could argue that the issues we are dealing with today aren’t that dissimilar from the ones we dealt with in the early 90’s, a struggling economy, and political frustration, but whatever the reason I’m going to go ahead and credit Eddie and the guys.
The t-shirt, perhaps the most utilitarian of fashion items has since its inception been the uniform of a cause, the garment that tells a story. Over the years the story has adapted, splintered, mutated, and contradicted itself, but the t-shirt has essentially remained the same. Its comfort and practicality have sustained its popularity and significance throughout its history.
There is some debate over the specificity of the origin of the t-shirt as more than just underwear. One such theory contends that during WWI American soldiers wore wool uniforms while their European counterparts were given cotton t-shirts in warmer climates needless to say the trend setting Europeans garnered the envy of the Americans. Another theory sites the US Navy as the trailblazer, stating that US Naval soldiers would wear only their undershirts when working on the deck of a ship and the trend caught on. Like any good trend it is hard to know exactly when and where it began, but in any case by WWII the t-shirt was a staple of the US military uniform and when the war ended and the troops came home and reintegrated back into the culture their uniform t-shirts came right along with them.
Since the turn of the century the t-shirt had been worn by laborers of all types. The garment was working its way to the forefront simply out of necessity. Civilian miners and dock workers would adorn what was then considered underwear because it was more comfortable, but it wasn’t until troops returned home from the war and began wearing their government issued t-shirts that it truly became acceptable as an exterior garment. In the 50’s Marlon Brando and James Dean changed the image. It went from being a symbol of utilitarian military conformity to being the uniform of the rebellious youth. In the 60’s when the rebellion became more directed and the rebel acquired a cause the technology of screen printing made it easy to get one’s political or social message plastered across their chest. The t-shirt became a means of overt expression, whether it was tie-dyed or a written phrase, the t-shirt went from a connotation to denotation. No longer was there a suggestion of status, now the suggestion was written, it was clear.
Since the 60’s the t-shirt’s versatility, comfort, and the ease at which messages can be so easily displayed has morphed its purpose into basically a mobile billboard. In the 70’s and 80’s small companies and bands would commonly use t-shirts to spread awareness of their fledgling brands. By the 90’s larger companies such as Coca Cola and Nike co-opted the style for the purposes of advertising through fashion and normalized the trend. The t-shirt became the less expensive way of showing one’s penchant for designer clothes and specific goods. The shirt’s journey had once again led it into the realm of conformity and uniformity. In the 30’s and 40’s people were wearing the same t-shirts because they were in the military and the shirts were free and comfortable, in the 90’s people were purchasing the same t-shirt because Michael Jordan was cool.
Of course today the t-shirt has the ability to make one of a thousand different statements. It is the shorthand by which one communicates, the way we tell the outside world who we are. Whether the message is the supporting of a specific political candidate, the supporting of a specific team or the lack of financial support that one possesses. It can say a myriad of things, but rest assured like any great piece of fashion it’s always saying something.
This weekend I watched “Back to the Future” on cable. I understand that this is a somewhat redundant statement because as far as I can tell, “Back to the Future” and “Catch Me If You Can” have become mandatory bi-weekly programming for any major media outlet. However, I noticed something this time that I haven’t noticed before. Mr. J. Fox is really rocking that orange vest. I’m speaking, of course, of the puffy orange vest that Marty takes from his home in 1985 to the unsuspecting world of 1955. Like all major fashion trends it is first met with derision. The vest becomes one of the many markers of time. It’s one of the red flags that Marty is not from the time period that he is currently in. When Marty enters Lou’s Café before the renowned chase scene, it is speculated that Marty is a sailor. The orange vest is such a stand out piece that the good people of 1955 assume that it must be a life preserver worn only by the heroes fighting in our naval services. Like all great fashion icons, Marty is quite literally ahead of his time. All I could think was how I need to get my hands one of those vests. Maybe, just maybe it was the power of the puffy orange vest that made us all believe in the power of love.
James Van Doren, one of the co-founders of Vans passed away at the age of 72 on October 12th, 2011. On March 16th 1965 the Van Doren Rubber Company opened its doors at 704 E. Broadway in Anaheim, California. The thing that made the company special was that it was both a manufacturer of shoes as well as a retailer. James helped to create the first mold for Vans’ signature waffle soul. The waffle soul’s thickness, quality and design made it a popular shoe for skaters in southern California’s emerging skating scene. The soul of the shoe was twice as thick as the PF Flyer’s, their canvas was known to be of a higher quality, and the unique waffle pattern that was originally designed for boat shoes added additional grip that came in handy when riding a skateboard. In addition to the shoe’s quality, the company’s versatility as both a manufacturer and retailer added to the popularity. The company made the shoes they sold and therefore they were able to create custom shoes which led to more innovative designs. While shoe companies like Nike and Reebok were working on new technologies, Vans attempted to keep the focus on quality and creativity. It was that creative vision that led to the invention of the checkerboard slip-on which was of course immortalized by Sean Penn in the film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In the 90’s Vans helped to create the Vans Warped Tour, a nationwide skating and music festival. For almost fifty years Vans has stood for durability, creativity, and ingenuity and while we have lost one of its founders, his spirit lives on.