Company Spotlight: Old Bull Lee
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.