By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The world Erik Herskind is interested in doesn't exist anymore. Actually, it never really did. B.A. Hobo Co. Makers, the clothing company he founded a few years ago, sells T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with logos from long-dead supper clubs, bars, lounges and businesses, among other things. But they aren't replicas: In the 1950s and '60s, where most of the designs spring from, no one wore anything other than white tees, and no one saw those because they were worn under other shirts. "In a weird way, I'm creating T-shirts for a time period that didn't have T-shirts," says Herskind, who operates out of a warehouse on Central Expressway. "I'm sort of thinking, 'If you walked into the Blue Marlin Bar in Miami in the '50s, what would their shirt look like?'" Probably like the one he sells on his site, www.hoboco.com.
How did you decide which logos to use?
The thing I started realizing is that people are really kind of beaten down by the homogenization of everything. You go into a mall and every mall has the same stores, and even the stores that have some cooler stuff, there's 30 shirts of the same design. You're kind of like, "Eh, I don't wanna be like everyone else." I'm gonna be constantly updating and evolving and adding new stuff all the time, so there really is an exclusiveness to the designs...I will not get into the sports side. Why not?
One of my very good friends, Chris Anderson, has a site called Classic Sports Logos (Full Frontal, February 20, 2003). He and I are longtime buddies, and we share a warehouse space together. A few years ago, we kind of said, let's try to get some stuff going on some other things besides our regular jobs. He had collected all these old retro sports logos, and I had this huge box of old non-sports stuff. So we kind of drew a line in the sand.
What shirt is selling the best?
The neat thing is, every design has sold since the site went live in November, which is really encouraging. But the thing that's interesting is Handy Andy--it's an old tool set made by a company in Illinois called the Skil-Craft Corporation. They used to produce these little toy tool sets for kids in the '50s and '60s. Well, I started getting all these orders for Handy Andy. I couldn't figure out what was going on. They were coming from all over the country. So I sent e-mails to a bunch of the customers, and every single one of them said the same things, which was either they had a friend named Andy or they had a husband named Andy. So then, a couple days later, I started getting orders for Howard's Dairylux. Same thing. People said, "I got a buddy named Howard." So I'm wondering if I need to dig in and find more places with people's names in them.
You could just ship a box to Ashton Kutcher, and there you go. Money in the bank.
That's a huge idea. Celebrity endorsements and getting people to wear our stuff is absolutely something I need to strive to do. I look in those magazines and see these kids wearing these shirts. Every time I see something, I get a little nervous that there's gonna be somebody else out there doing the real thing eventually, but it continues to be this fake stuff, as I call it. I think the thing that's a little different is that I have grown past the age where I can walk around wearing an Abercrombie shirt, or maybe even a Lucky Brand shirt. --Zac Crain
We can’t really explain what drove us to purchase. No, wait, we can. The offer was original, bizarre and, how you say, funny. A friend told us about it, and as the site came up we were greeted with “YOU BUY WADDED UP PAPER NOW!!!!”
That's right. The site readily admits, albeit in broken English, that origami boulders are, in fact, just wadded-up balls of paper. This artist, however, creates them with pride and care. Consumers have the option of buying a boulder for $10, a boulder with a haiku inside (buyers are encouraged not to unwad the paper to read the poem, just know it's there, so the art remains intact) for $15 and our favorite, the performance-art option for $3 that includes the artist constructing a custom boulder and then tossing it into the wastebasket. With the performance art, we got no boulder in the mail, but what we did get was the following e-mail detailing our special performance:
Thanks for purchase. You are good person and true patron of arts.
Artist make special edition Swiss performance while on vacation at no extra charge. Artist take clean sheet of Hotel Krone letter paper and wad into small, tight origami boulder. Next, artist walk across small hotel room and toss into wastebasket near television and then continue with watch Sat3 tv show. Price of performance almost enough to buy 1/2 glass of Fanta at outrageous Swiss price.