If it seems like a heady mixture of Wild West sensibilities, badass biker spirit and 1970’s nostalgia sum up the aesthetic behind Watsonville-based Bandit Brand tees, it’s for good reason. Just ask the label’s designer Jen McMillan about her youth, and it all starts to make sense.
“I grew up in a super small town in the mountains of Colorado and am super nostalgic about all of the cool old Western and biker stuff I saw growing up there. I spent most of my time in an arcade that was attached to the bar where my parents hung out, and I got to grow up in the 70’s, so there was that whole Urban Cowboy look going on. Even though I thought my parents looked retarded at the time, the fashion and the music back then really bring back some awesome feelings now and help me to design the tees,” she says.
Along with the help of local artists such as San Francisco rock poster designer Alan Forbes, McMillan turns out cotton tees for men and women that beg for a perfectly worn-in pair of jeans, beat-up boots and a lazy Saturday afternoon. And for the label-averse, you’ll appreciate the fact that there’s no branding on the hand screen-printed shirts – just rock concert-chic artwork inspired by McMillan’s sketches and her ongoing obsession with small town Americana. Also part of McMillan’s collection is a selection of vintage-inspired fabric handbags and handmade jewelry featuring bison, Native American chiefs and wolves.
Available online and in San Francisco at CC Rider, Wasteland and Grant’s Tobacconists. Or stop by the McMillan’s shop, Idle Hands (805 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA), the next time you’re down her way and view them in person.
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