The entrepreneurial spirit showed no signs of waning in 2012. From new generations breathing new life into faltered family brands to the birth of a Brooklyn surf shop, we welcomed the return of iconic brands and were introduced to some new ones as well. We love when strong brands have a good backstory to go with the quality of their products, and the following are six of our favorites told in 2012.
Inspired by an urgent sense to slow things down, renowned bicycle builder Jordan Hufnagel and motorcycle maker James Crowe founded West America. Using their shared workshop in Portland, Oregon, the two make camping supplies and apparel to eventually accompany them on a South American motorcycle adventure. Our interview with Hufnagel gets at the background, and more of what's to come.
In 1975 experienced outdoorsman Dana Gleason founded Kletterwerks, making backpacks and climbing equipment in his Bozeman, Montana garage. After taking the outdoor industry by storm and influencing a generation of enthusiasts the company fell by the wayside. Now some 35 years later his son has brought the brand back to life.
Private White V.C.
After hearing of the UK-based menswear brand's storied history we felt compelled to learn more. As luck would have it our curiosity coincided with Private White V.C. founder James Eden's interest in advertising with CH. So to kill two birds with one stone—and offer a compelling story of course—we went behind the scenes at the brand's century old private, family-run factory in Manchester, England.
Surfing has its share of legends, and few places are home to more of them than Hawaii. Building on that history M.Nii, the reincarnation of a small tailor shop near Oahu (the birthplace of big wave surfing) and the originator of the board short in the 1930s. Referencing nostalgic images, interviews with old school surfers and an impressive knowledge of surf culture, industry veterans Randy Hild and John Moore now make a small line of replica garments in Los Angeles.
Pilgrim Surf Supply
Yes, people do surf in New York—a lot of people, actually. Supporting this growing community of surfers in the big Apple—as well as artists and all-around surf culture connoisseurs—is Chris Gentile's Pilgrim Surf + Supply. The beautifully curated shop exudes a carefree sense of style that's appreciated and sought after by suits and surfers alike.
Handsome Coffee Roasters
The Los Angeles Arts District got a jolt of new life this year with the opening of Handsome Coffee Roasters. The lofty space, designed by WoodSmithe, houses a roastery, cupping station and coffee shop manned by World Barista Champion Michael Phillips. We sat down with Handsome co-founder Tyler Wells and WoodSmithe's Nathanael Balon to get the low down on what many consider to be the best black gold in California.