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Employee of the Month: Aren Willingham


What are the pros and cons of full beardedness?
A full beard immediately makes any boy look like a man. There is an interesting hierarchy when it comes to beards: In a room full of beards, whoever has the best beard is the dominant beard. It's a respect thing, because the other beards know what kind of sacrifice and discipline it takes to grow a beard that long. It's kind of funny, but it's some serious stuff! But it takes a lot of patience to grow a truly memorable beard. My beard grows fairly quickly, so what I grow in a month could take others a couple months. Long beards without proper mustache maintenance can get in the way of eating and, more importantly, kissing.

Describe your style.
My style as of late has been somewhere between classy fisherman and trendy Americana. So what I wear in a major city people would find trendy, but anytime I go home the locals feel like I finally came around!

Tell me about three of your best new purchases.
An Eddie Money concert tee with his face on the front and a list of his singles on the back for six bucks at Regeneration, a "Who the Fuck is Kanye West?" tee from Urban that I chopped into a tank, and a mallard sweatshirt I picked up in a gas station in Nashville.

What are all your friends wearing right now?
Cut-off sleeveless button-ups and t-shirts, home-made tanks, patched tanks—basically customized winter attire to fit the summer lifestyle.

What would you love to see more people get into fashion-wise for Fall?
The greaser look and '80s Euro-yuppie look—so stoked for it. I want to see people wearing boots tucked into skinny jeans with rolled-up short sleeve checkered button-ups, with a cigarette behind the ear. Straight up greaser looks with leather coats with bike crew patches on the back. Post anarchist military brat looks, like how those kids rummaged through their Dad's Vietnam trunk and made it look sly just to piss their Dads off. Then you have the opposing side of the scale with clean cut polos and button-ups with short pants and ascots—the kind of look like money has been running through your blood for a lifetime...all class not trash.

How are people in Detroit dressing these days?
It really is all about early grunge and greaser looks. Rarely do the kids I kick it with go full Euro-yuppie yet, but it's summer so layers are a terrible idea. But like I said earlier, lots of customs chopped tees and tanks. Hopefully this makes sense to the rest of the world. It's fun.

What's the most fun you've had at a show?
Last fall I was touring with the Queens Club guys in Atlanta. At the end of the set, the guys would finish with their song "Greinke." Near the end of the song, there is a straight electronic style dance-off and everyone from the tour jumped on stage and rocked out the rest of the song. Such a good end to that tour!

What is the best song to belt out during Karaoke or alone in the shower?
For Karaoke, probably the theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. For the shower...oh, I'm not sure probably Son House "John the Revelator." There are great acoustics and warm resonations for that particular song in the shower.

What is something you wish more people knew about you?
I made a dog tag in Memphis a while back that says "I am more then just a beard!" and I feel that most people need to realize that.

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