Classic Roots

Poloclothing

Menswear designers new and old are tracing fashion roots and embracing brand heritage– whether it’s their own or borrowed.  Ralph is the true master of classic American sportswear, and no one is more in their element at this time than him.

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THE LEGEND OF SAILOR JERRY | TATTOO MASTER NORMAN COLLINS

 

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If you don’t know who Sailor Jerry is– you don’t know tattoos. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins (1911-1973) is considered the foremost American tattoo artist of his time, and defined the craft in two eras– BSJ and ASJ (before and after Sailor Jerry). Arguably, he did more for the ancient art of tattoo than most any other single person.

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At age 19, Sailor Jerry enlisted in the US Navy. It was during his travels at sea that he was exposed to the art and imagery of Southeast Asia. Artistically, his influence stems from his union of the roguish attitude of the American sailor with the mysticism and technical prowess of the Far East. He maintained a close correspondence with Japanese tattoo masters during his career.

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Sailor Jerry regarded tattoos as the ultimate rebellion against “the Squares”. His legendary sense of humor is oft reflected in his work– but he was never one to compromise his professionalism or take his craft and responsibilities lightly.

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Sailor Jerry’s first studio was in Honolulu’s Chinatown, then the only place on the island where tattoo studios were located. His work was so widely copied, he had to print “The Original Sailor Jerry” on his business cards. There’s a guy up in Canada that goes by the same name, but don’t be fooled– although he’s good in his own right, he ain’t the original Sailor Jerry.

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Sailor Jerry remained a sailor his entire life. Even during his career as a tattoo artist, he worked as licensed skipper of a large three-masted schooner, on which he conducted tours of the Hawaiian islands. Sailing and tattooing were his only two professional endeavors.

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Sailor Jerry went out of his way to mentor those tattoo artists whose talents and attitude he respected, among them tattoo legends Don Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, to whom he entrusted his legacy of flash designs. He also railed against flashy tattoo artists such as Lyle Tuttle, and what he called “hippie tattoo” culture.

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From his 20s to his late 50s, he stopped tattooing entirely as a part of a disagreement with the IRS. Believe it or not, Sailor Jerry only tattooed for approximately 12 years.

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sailor jerry tattoos pinup babes

In 1999, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone partnered with an independent Philadelphia company to establish Sailor Jerry Ltd., which produces rum, clothing and other goods. Some say that Ed Hardy sold his old mentor, Sailor Jerry, up the river– taking much credit for Jerry’s style and pocketing the dough. Sailor Jerry (and Von Dutch alike)  may be rolling in his grave.

sailor jerry tattoos care

Originally there were few colors available to tattoo artists– Sailor Jerry expanded the array by developing his own safe pigments. He also created needle formations that embedded pigment with much less trauma to the skin, and was one of the first to utilize single-use needles and hospital-quality sterilization.

norman collins sailor jerry tattoos

Tattooing legend Norman Collins AKA Sailor Jerry

sailor jerry tattoos norman collins photo

Tattooing legend Norman Collins AKA Sailor Jerry

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ANCIENT ART OF THE JAPANESE TEBORI TATTOO MASTERS | INK IN HARMONY

THE FOREFATHERS OF TATTOOING | “CAP” COLEMAN & PAUL ROGERS

BTC BRISTOL TATTOO CLUB | THE SKUSE FAMILY — GENERATIONS OF KILLER INK

ROGUES, SAILORS & ANCIENT MARINERS | HISTORY OF NAUTICAL TATTOOS

COOL HAND LUKE | SOMETIMES A CHORE COAT CAN BE A REAL COOL HAND

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Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman is a classic film, and without a doubt one of my favorites.  It’s Newman’s greatest performance, in a film loaded with powerhouse acting.  You’ve got George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Jo Van Fleet, Strother Martin (What we’ve got here is “failure to communicate”) and Dick Davalos, to name a few.  Don’t know who Dick Davalos is?  He played Blind Dick, and is best remembered as Aaron Trask, opposite James Dean’s Cal Trask in East of Eden.

Speaking of James Dean– the role of Lucas Jackson would more than likely been his– not Newman’s, had he not been killed in a fatal car crash.  Dean would have starred in The Left Handed GunSomebody Up There Likes Me and probably Hud as well.  Not to take anything away from Paul Newman, but Dean was definitely the bigger star back then, and his passing gave Newman a clear path to instant stardom.

26469_2Cool Hand Luke is visually rich with incredibly authentic sets, cultural cues, wardrobe and styling. I wanted to live in that prison bunkhouse.  What was so bad?  They got to hang-out, enjoy cold drinks, eat eggs and such.

I became obsessed with the old chain-gang garb, and own several beat-up, RRL denim chore coats because of it.  Chore coats are an iconically American piece– worn by laborers, convicts, artists and plain everyday folk.  And another American icon– the classic chambray workshirt is in there too.

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There was nothing not to like in this film– even the hair.  Carr the floor walker, and Blind Dick had very cool D.A.’s.  And what about the incredible score, Harry Dean Stanton’s crooning, and Paul Newman singing and playing banjo on Plastic Jesus?  The film is pregnant with comparisons of Luke to Jesus. Luke is their leader– his crucifixion pose after eating the eggs– “stop feeding off of me!” alluding to communion– Dragline as ‘Judas’ bringing the cops to Luke in the final scene– on and on.  There are some many famous lines in Cool Hand Luke that I could be here all day– “shaking it up here boss!”

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Samurai 15oz 10 Year Anniversary Jeans

Samurai 15oz 10 Year Jeans

The S0510XX uses 100% Texas cotton which is famous for being a “rough” cotton due to it’s high amount of short fibers.  Normally, the short fibers are removed to make a smoother fabric, but Samurai adds more short cotton fibers to make the yarn even rougher.  The result is a yarn that is highly uneven in size, making the woven fabric very “slubby” (irregular).  Moreover, while most jean manufacturers mix different cottons from various areas, Samurai uses only 100% Texas cotton in the S0510XX.  Even the thread is made of 100% Texas cotton.  This creates a jean that captures the essence and spirit of this tough Texas denim.

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Like all Samurai jeans, the S0510XX uses 100% pure indigo with no fillers, using the maximum amount of indigo that the yarn can hold.  Weighing in at 15 ounces, Samurai also maximized the tension of the weave, so that after washing, the denim actually becomes even more stiff and the weave even tighter resulting in a jean with unprecedented “atari” (fading). 

Link to buy at Blue in Green

Junya Watanabe Spring 2009

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Junya Watanabe’s (of Comme des Garcons) Spring 2009 collection is a very fitted & fresh mix of American menswear “classics with a twist”.  Collaborations with iconic prepster brands- Brooks Brothers, Levi’s, Lacoste and Baracuta made for some funky updates to familiar models, patterns and fabrics.  What also makes it youthful is eye-catching denim pieces and cool hats thrown in.

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