A maverick, Bert Pulitzer’s clarvoiancy and care to details consistantly inspires not only stylish men’s wear, but functionality for the changing times men live within. He and Survivalon have reintroduced Pulitzer’s classic sailing-travel jacket. Pulitzer has maintained loyalty – almost to a fault – to his original 1975 design – but – is optimistic about the modern components of the Ipad, Iphone and sunglass pockets he and his team have added. Knowing Pulitzer’s reputation for staying honest to the integrity of his designs – this rejuvenated Survivalon Jacket is sure to become a classic piece of men’s wear.
You are from Long Beach, New York – how did that upbringing mold you as a designer?
Growing up in Long Beach – or the town I like to refer to as a resort built on a sand bar – we had a winter population of 4000 and in summer 25,000. Growing up on boats and beach, I wanted to become a professional life guard but my father didn’t think that that was a good idea! After spending nearly 5 months a year on boats and beach and not finding a quality, non-rusting and comfortable sailing jacket – it was natural – to me that when I grew up I would invent one.
What was so different about your jacket that you invented?
Survivalon was the first piece of clothing to have Velcro, which until then was only used in hospitals. Zippers on sailing jackets for the time were steel or brass. Steel rusted and brass corroded – so I sourced a zipper that was made for tents (the YKK #10) and made it into a 2 way version for comfort when driving or at the tiller. It took 18 months to find the shell… and luckily… somehow I met someone who understood how to make the jacket. HOME RUN on the first prototype! Doris Tom was the pattern masker and the synergy worked perfectly.
How do the members of Survivalon help refresh your brand?
One of the best ways is by listening to ideas for product upgrades and selling ideas from a number of affiliates in men’s wear. A friend at Orvis kept after us to change the settings of the bottom drawstring – we did – and the adjustment lowered the cord below the front pockets; concealing it from snagging. As for style, Mark – of Family Britches of New Canaan, CT – was the first to show an orange jacket over a tuxedo outfit opening up multiple uses for sport and dress up use.
What is Survivalon purchase appeal,what aspects set it apart?
All Survivalon Jackets are made by hand in the USA and every detail of the jackets is totally functional. Many outerwear manufacturers – when designing – take a men’s market approach.
For examples they ponder over meetings – “OK how about 2 pockets on the chest and 2 lower body? Are flaps in now? Maybe buttons or snaps possibly zippers?” – you get the gist. Whatever is in vogue at the time becomes part of the design and merchandising. With Survivalon our goal is to make the most functional, durable jacket for men to wear.
How has your brand changed over the last year, and where will it be evolving too?
Our first shipment of the original, classic jacket model was last October – our collection will grow to include a shorter version, quilted version, plus a vest starting by February to complete our Fall ’13 collection.
Can you share some of the design for the vest?
Our new “Protec” layering/all around vest model works as a layer under either the classic jacket model or its new counterpart the quilted version.
I know that John Wayne used to wear and endorse the jacket – if you could pick a new spokesperson, whom would you pick?
Jon Bon Jovi. He is a close friend of Michael Keenan – a member of the Survivalon team. When Michael opened his trunk at the Jersey Shore – while helping out with Sandy Storm Victims’ – Jon saw an orange jacket and grabbed it declaring it as his! Jon is a perfect image for Survivalon – he is not only a great and talented musician but a fine person who cares for others.
How has the Survivalon Jacket stood the test of time?
The Survivalon jacket was originally designed in 1975 and has continued with the same model, same snaps, same Velcro, but we’ve modernized it as well. It is still loved instantaneously when 25 – 30 year old men see it for the first time. I always find it amazing how classic men’s wear continues as it does in every thought out product such as LL Bean shoes/boots, Sperry Topsider, and many more if you just think about it for a moment.
Shirt: Zara. Pants: Gap. Footwear: Bass. Belt: Vintage. Tie: Bert Pulitzer (vintage). Eyewear: Ray Ban. Jacket: Survivalon.
Photographers: Cassandra L. Ingrassia
Photo & Written Edits: Joe Lee
Style and Layout: Joe Lee
Location: Astoria, New York
The company Old Bull Lee has been influenced by the sounds, the beat and the feel of art, literature, and life itself. May it be great archeturcture of Italy, impressionist paintings, or a chance meeting with a stranger – they learn from experience – and decide their own path. This journey has lead to design men’s shorts but without the insipid nature of blue, khaki, or even seersucker – theirs have a certain feel and valor unlike any other. Each pair reflects a feel and story set for a certain moment and time. Based with an the intrinisic values of working hard and producing a good quality product Old Bull Lee hopes to make a impression with something “new.”
What have you learned most through the years working in fashion and merchandizing?
This is our first year so, so the history of “Old Bull Lee” is… well, I’m currently writing it and you’re reading it. Probably, figure out who to listen to. There are many shiny salesman, dancing in the spotlight. But when you get backstage you realize it is held together by duct tape. A lot of the truly interesting people are hidden in the shadows. Maybe they look like they just crawled out of a dumpster or maybe they’ve underneath a mountain of eccentricities. But when you listen to them, and this is really what sets them apart, they make sense. It might not even be an opinion you agree with, but you can tell that it is well thought out and they’ve got some larger awareness going on. Those people are special, they are the one’s that stop me in my tracks.
What are your projections for your young company, and where will it be evolving too?
The English say it takes forty years to grow a good garden and the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence is known for its’ jewelry. Short term – you can bend situations so that they resemble what you want them to look like, but ultimately they are just going to find their way back to some more natural state. With Old Bull Lee, we are just planting a seed here. Caring, watering, giving it guidance and letting it grow into what it wants to be.
What’s your favorite new piece for men from your collection?
First and foremost it is absolutely about quality, otherwise we would just be building “The Emperor’s New Clothes” For our shorts the prints are the poetry – that’s the expression – that’s where these things start to breath life. I love art. Realism is great, but at some point you figure the piece out and then you lose the wonderment – the relationship dies. With impressionism the answer isn’t fixed – mood and interpretation bring you to make up a highly personnel answer. Our prints are create that type of relationship. My favorites change constantly – it is more likely what I am in the mood to be involved with.
What social influences or experiences have influenced your brand as it is today and where it is going?
I’ve been an architect for the past 15 years. There is a lot about it that I’ve loved and learned. Maybe, the most important thing of which is: there are a lot of beautiful things, but for any true deeper meaning, you have to be able to answer “why?”
How did your upbringing effect your style and that concept of Old Bull Lee?
I grew up on the East Coast, which probably gave me a core of hard truth. But living on the West Coast has probably given me an unknown quantity of fog. Men are getting more fashion conscious – the world is getting more informal and media centric. At our company we aren’t just finding something – moving one molecule and then calling it our own – we are trying to create something new. Shorts that aren’t fancy, but maintain high style and quality. There are a lot of guys that live in shorts – most I see are mediocre, with some homogeneous DNA that is designed for the largest possible audience. Ours aren’t for everyone and that’s okay – but we strive to give customers a high quality product that is tasteful done. We’ve taken an awfully long, hard road to get here and if the product expresses some of that heart and soul- cause you can’t fake authenticity.
How did you come up with the company’s name?
In the very beginning, we used a different name. The name was just making our lives really hard. I started to think about who and what matter to me. I’ve worked for firms where the principals name is on the door and you never really forget that you are pushing someone else’s rock up the hill, so, that didn’t seem like the best idea. I have always admired the words of: William S Burroughs, but I was hesitant because he is such a dangerous reference. Then I heard a story about how the whole beat generation gang, Burroughs, Ginsburg, Cassidy, Kerouac, etc. all, not yet, but each individually were on the edge of great fame. At the time Jack Kerouac, was just starting his book “on the road” and he was secretly a little jealous about the whole gangs intrigue of William S. Burroughs. So, in his book the “The Road” which is inadvertently about those people, he reference everyone directly, but rather than give William S. Burroughs credit by using his name he refers to him as “Old Bull Lee”. When I learned that it just made too much sense. I had the answer to my question of “why?”
Describe the type of person best equipped to wear Old Bull Lee?
Being in fashion and living in Los Angeles, it is easy to get drawn towards the shallow puddles. The truth of the matter is that the intriguingly beautiful one’s are the ones’ that have done some tough times – the ones’ who’ve walked through some deserts and were lucky enough in the end to somehow land closer to the center of themselves than when they started. Self assurance and a smile are very attractive.
Explain the philosophy behind the brands identity
Things change & “of the times” has value, but this whole trend thing is an endless conveyer belt of subterfuge. We are just not jumping on, We are putting our energies into creating something more substantial. Some trees grow fast (Poplar), but anything that grows fast is prone to disease. Some trees, grow just inches a year (Oak) and they will be around for a long time. We would rather sell a better product than sell more product.