We caught up with JP, co-founder of the hugely successful blog, retail and online store, The Selvedge Yard . JP talks to us about inspiration, motivation, following your instincts and the power of music. We also get the inside track on a dysfunctional love affair and the upcoming (and clearly not-to-miss) ‘Greaser Getdown’ Party. Check out the details and more here. Thanks JP (and Ashley).
We have loved The Selvedge Yard since we first visited the blog way back in 2011, tell us where the idea/inspiration for TSY came from?
(JP) Back in 2008 I was laid-off, along with many of my colleagues, due to the U.S. economic recession that hit retail and apparel particularly hard. Aside from being out of work, I was also in need of a creative outlet to funnel my passion and energy into. It was also around this time that menswear lifestyle blogs were blowing up and becoming a big damn deal. I’ve worked on all sides of the menswear business, and so these were quite interesting and I thought let me try it. A Continuous Lean by Michael Williams was the leader of the pack, in my opinion, and I followed it religiously. ACL had a voice, vision and aesthetic that I related to and made me feel like I might have a voice that could resonate with others as well. Michael was a true gentleman in schooling me via email on blogger etiquette, and the finer points in template formatting and that he is genius at. I am thankful to this day for Michael taking the time for someone who he didn’t owe the time of day.
What was the original vision for TSY and how did it come to this (40 million+ visitors)?
(JP) Oh, lord… Honestly the original vision for The Selvedge Yard lost its flavor faster than a stick of Juicy Fruit gum! At first I was sure that a blog on all things “selvedge denim” was my calling. This was going to be where I made my mark in the menswear blogging universe. Let me tell you, after a month of this I was bored shitless. That’s when I let all the inspirations, icons, personal experiences and stories flow like a random stream of consciousness.
There is a constant style and look that has never wavered, who is responsible for this and where does this design bent come from?
(JP) With blogs being so visual, I spent a lot of time (way too much) trolling the internet and books for images that captured what was in my mind’s eye. I was obsessed with the imagery and look of the blog being the best it could be. And I’d often unearth photos that few had seen before, and dig out the stories behind them. That’s where I focused, because for me content quality was king. A lot of people were advising me to post every day and to crank out content quicker, to grow TSY faster and bigger. I wanted every post to be timeless and meaningful, and for TSY to be an archive of cool throughout history. That’s where the tagline “A historical record of Artistry, Anarchy, Alchemy & Authenticity” came from.
What are your key design insights & style beliefs?
(JP) Insights and beliefs have to be your own to really mean a damn. And style means nothing unless it’s personal. That’s the difference— style is genuine essence, and fashion is an aesthetic. That doesn’t mean it has to be original, it means it has to be core to who and what you are. The times that I’ve gone astray in life were when I didn’t follow my gut instinct on a decision or make a stand for what I believe in. So when it comes to design and style— be true to thy self. Say what you mean, stay the course, and do not cut corners. Whether it’s a blog, or a business, or a personal relationship— never try to be something you’re not. The compromise is never worth any short term gain.
Obviously you love motorcycles, where did this love affair start?
(JP) I grew up in the biker culture. My immersion in the culture outweighs my experience on a bike itself. My childhood was Harleys, Dobermans, guns, bullshit, and “inappropriate” behavior. We moved around a lot. When I was a kid, if you rode a Harley you were a badass. Nowadays Harley riders are a dime a dozen, and bikers are a rare breed. All that said, it all made a strong impression on me, and stays with me to this day. I’d call it a love affair of the dysfunctional kind.
TSY is where bikes, rock icons, pin ups and cars collide, what would be your top choice in each category?
(JP) Not fair, that’s like Sophie’s Choice… asking me to choose between my children. I grew up in the ‘70s and the bikes of that era that influenced me and that I love to this day are still Harley-Davidson choppers, the H-D XR-750 Evel Knievel rode, and a clean old Triumph like the one Bud Ekins built for Fonzi on Happy Days. Music: my love of The Rolling Stones speaks for itself, but I’m big into old blues too. Pinups: Bettie Page & Jayne Mansfield. There were definitely notable beautiful women from the ‘70s & ‘80s that made an impression, but I wouldn’t call them pinups… times had changed by then. Cars will be hard to narrow down, but I have a strong affinity for ‘60s—‘70s Mopar muscle cars, ‘50s hot rods, and old school T-buckets.
Like Triumph & Disaster you guys love music, where does music begin and end for TSY?
(JP) All I can say is, music is the soundtrack to your life. So, it’s everything. Good music is truth, crosses all divides, touches every heart, and cuts all bullshit. Music definitely runs strong and deep in our family.
Please explain Donald Trump for the rest of us. : )
(JP) Real simple— Donald Trump = EGO. I believe the current U.S. political system leaves a lot to be desired, and at the same time it’s still one of the greatest countries in the world. We need change. The world needs change. People are really fed up with politics as usual. Trump speaks against it bluntly, and that mirrors a lot of people’s emotions right now. This is all an ego trip for him; he won’t effectively lead this country or change shit. It’s a circus.
Clearly there has never been a better case for Keith Richards for president?!
(JP) Ha! Clearly, that would be a disaster. Can you imagine? I can…
T&D is having a party with you guys in New Hope Pennsylvania – what can we expect?
(JP) TSY is known to throw a pretty good party, I have to say! Expect good people dressed in their best greaser get up, hot rods and motorcycles, insane music by our friend & DJ Matt Smith, Beer from Yards Brew, Spirits from Art in the Age, BBQ from Bitter Bob’s, and the Triumph & Disaster crew in the house! We made-up a bunch of very cool and iconic GREASER GETDOWN themed GWP T-shirts, Koozies (free while they last!), and more goodies that are very cool!
We are giving away a trip to New Zealand at the party – what would your dream trip to NZ involve?
Oh Man, I have to say I’m very jealous of the lucky winner! I mean, it can’t get any better than what Triumph & Disaster is generously providing! Airfare and 5 days at a resort on Waiheke Island where you can totally get off the grid and drink until dawn, exercise to your heart’s content, or just completely veg. I thought it was a very nice touch to leave the return ticket open, giving the winner the option of extending their trip if they desire (on their own pocket of course). This really is a dream trip that we hope to take ourselves someday! We truly cannot thank T&D enough for partnering with us on such an incredible event and giveaway. Cheers! JP & Ash
Jon Patrick Ashley Smalley
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