Your new brand, North Manual Vocational, takes its historical and pop cultural reference points pretty seriously. What more can you tell us about it?
I think the story behind one of our upcoming pieces really shows what I’m trying to do with the brand.
Alan Freed, a DJ, threw some of the world’s first rock and roll shows in New York. Nobody knows this. Rockabilly dudes who are really well-learned don’t know even know this. Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, and Frankie Lymon were all at the Brooklyn Paramount on the same stage. And part of the reason Alan Freed was eventually crucified by the IRS for payola – which wasn’t even illegal if you reported it to the IRS – was that he was adamant about having a mixed crowd at shows. Normally the black kids would go in late once the musicians were tired, and the white kids would go for the matinee.
But Alan was like, “rock and roll is going to unify the kids of the future.” And he was saying this in the 50s – this is not some John Lennon stuff, but the events that inspired John Lennon. Alan was bringing kids around the world together through rock and roll, so they had to make an example of him. And this isn’t some conspiracy theory, it’s well documented. This guy had to go.
So North Manual Vocational is going to have a lot of Alan Freed references. The first piece we’re doing with Ebbets Field is based on a famous photo of a hundred kids at Alan’s forced retirement. They’re all wearing black satin bomber jackets with “Rock and Roll” on the back that they all made to say goodbye to him. The first North Manual Vocational piece will be that jacket, and on the hang tang we’ll explain the social reference.
We’re doing 1940s and 50s-inspired mens casualwear, a little bit of workwear, and select vintage reproductions–but mostly daily wear. We’re making a chore jacket based on one I found in Tacoma made from polyrayon houndstooth. It’ll be drapey likey a gab jacket, but also super durable. We’re also doing a cabbie jacket, which is a short cropped jacket that has lapels like a suit. Watch any movie from the 50s with a cabbie, bus driver, or gas station attendant and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I find that most of the brands that do vintage reproductions only do over-the-top stuff—the crazy black and pink Gene Vincent gab jacket, for example. That’s cool, but NVM is mostly built for entry-level vintage enthusiasts. Or the the guy that has a vintage pair of gab pants, but will only wear them one night at Viva Las Vegas; we’ll have a pair that he can wear every day without being afraid to mess them up. We’re making daily wear.