“I was named after a Clint Eastwood movie from the 70′s called ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales.’ In that movie, the main character walks into a dry goods store called Dyer & Jenkins and when he comes out he says the famous line ‘are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle dixie?’” This is how Josey Orr, the c-ofounder of a soon-to-launch men’s wear brand by the name same name as the infamous store from the film, explains the curious origin of his company’s all-American moniker. The source is important for Orr and his business partner. The two are looking forward to launching affordable, totally American-made men’s basics, executing the entire production process in Los Angeles.
They’re almost halfway to their $20,000 Kickstarter fund, a campaign that started mid-October and ends in the middle of next month. Once they hit their goal, they’ll begin small batch production on the Fall/Winter 2013 line, which includes $12 tees and $95 selvage jeans (Orr is sourcing the denim from the iconic Cone Mills). The idea is that these are good-looking, well-made staple items that most guys with an interest in wearing domestically produced fashion can both easily afford and keep forever. The general tone of that appealing pitch seems to have found an ideal home on Kickstarter, which has indirectly sparked a renaissance in locally made, contemporary men’s wear.
While Dyer & Jenkins intends to produce the ideal Los Angeles men’s uniform — slim jeans, tee, sweatshirt — in, appropriately, L.A., a project funded last spring and based in Chicago, Peter Field, offers affordable, custom men’s ties, bowties, and pocket squares, all made in that city. Maybe it’s just us, but the company’s goal and its location don’t seem coincidental — a coordinated bowtie and pocket square brings to mind Chicago’s more dapper gangsters of days gone by. Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Bluer Denim hit its Kickstarter goal this fall to make high-quality men’s and women’s jeans, with a Warby Parker-style home try-on model. And in New York, Justin Virgil, a barber promoting “the new American barber movement” used Kickstarter to fund further production on his American-made line of vintage-inspired men’s suits, tees, and outerwear. Out in San Francisco, an entrepreneur named Dhawal Shah is looking to fund a $20,000 goal to start Hucklebury, an American-made men’s dress shirt company (the tech yuppies driving everyone else out of San Fran must need to trade out their hoodies once in a while). Not only is Kickstarter spurring a new wave of domestic fashion production, it seems to be inspiring it on a specialized, city-by-city basis.
Heritage brands like Filson and Raleigh Denim are experiencing renewed interest, both here and abroad, but the growing market for contemporary American-made men’s wear is much broader than just the reach of a few companies. Dyer & Jenkins and their Kickstarter-funded ilk are launching at the right moment, ushering in a new movement they’re helping to create.