November 29, 2010

Born To Run

We've grown accustomed to observing certain brands in the zoos of 5th Avenue pop-ups and reserves of online boutiques. Brands which share ancestry in remote outposts, exploration parties and trail blazers but have since been reduced to Gilt sales and a quiet life of collaborations and limited editions. We forget these brands were born for purpose, for a life of hunting, killing, surviving in the wild, and being free, but because of words like authentic and quality, they have fallen victim to their own prowess.

Don't get me wrong, I too have bought plenty of tickets to the zoo and have gazed and gawked at the beauty of the now docile species'. But that doesn't mean I don't also find solace in the fact that there are certain places where these brands are free. Where they roam retail spaces free of irony. Where they live. The Wharf in Ventura, California is just that -- a protected national park.

The floors are carpet, not unlike what you'd find in the kindergarten rooms of public elementary schools. The walls are covered in the free, over-sized adverts sent folded in boxes which accompany the merchandise upon order. The lights are fluorescent tubes. Nothing is re-created. Nothing is inspired. It is, quite simply, what it is. The aisles are merely trails forged by those looking for nothing more than the warmest and the best for the job.

Be free, Pendleton. Be free, Filson. Be Free, Carhartt. And I'll see your brethren at the zoo next week when I, no doubt, will pick up the new limited, black label, capsule line, re-issued collab.