• UO Journal: Pin Freaks

    Urban Outfitters is proud to present Urban Outfitters Journal Issue 2, the next in a series of print publications that represent the culture and stories behind the UO Men’s Brand, coming soon to select UO Stores and online. 

    With designs that range from vintage styles to modern pop culture themes, Internet memes, and quirky quotes, we talked to seven brands from cities coast to coast about their designs and their holy grails of pin collecting.

    Valley Cruise Press
    Founders: Ted and Kelley Feighan
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Vibe: Tropical
    Holy grail: Anything vintage Cleveland

    Founded by a pair of best friends back in 2013, Valley Cruise Press was created as a way to launch husband and wife founders Kelley and Ted’s artwork into the world, and has since expanded into a small publishing label and a hub of wearable designs. The brand specializes in pins and patches that help a large amount of artists get recognized for their work. The duo work and develop ideas in their Los Angeles apartment, which Kelley claims “is no joke.” “Luckily, we have a pretty even split of areas on which we focus our efforts,” she says. “Ted handles all the creative, researching artists and working with them on their designs. In addition, he handles all in-house design. I handle all promotion and sales, including social media.” The team collectively discusses which artists and designs to ultimately move forward with. Kelley tells us the city of LA has been one of the biggest creative inspirations to their design practice, “The bright sun, the palm trees, the colors are all reflected in our products and our branding.” But the couple takes a monthly picture-taking trip to places outside of the city to “see how our brand fits in the greater landscape and experience new and exciting places around and outside the city.”
    Shop Valley Cruise

    Founders: Jordan Roschwalb, Doni Gitlin, Andrew Yung
    Location: Brooklyn, NY
    Vibe: Clean, minimal, and elevated
    Holy grail: Deadstock Adidas and Champion pins

    From emojis and celebrities to phrases and tongue-in-cheek humor, PINTRILL is one of the monster brands making waves in the pin industry that manages to keep their fun designs looking clean, minimal, and elevated. With a consistent stream of pin collections dropping periodically, it’s pretty improbable for one not to find a pin they’d want to rock. In addition to their own collections, the Brooklyn based brand is always collaborating with a vast array of designers and brands, from DefJam to OBEY. Head creative Jordan Roschwalb knows how to get people talking, and has lead the brand to almost have a sneaker culture-like release system, gaining hype when new products are announced across social media. Being headquartered in NYC allows the brand to constantly be surrounded by ideas, people and culture, of which Jordan tells us, “If you look around the city you can see examples in and on every street. There is always someone walking to the beat of their own drum.” So while we love everything PINTRILL has released so far, we’re still stoked to see what they plan on unveiling next. And on the future of PINTRILL, and pin culture in general, Jordan shares, “If history can tell us anything, it’s that customization is always in, so the future is limitless.”

    Weird Empire
    Founder: Rebecca Henderson
    Location: Charlotte, NC
    Vibe: Passive-aggressive
    Holy grail: Dead stock vintage pins at truck stops

    Weird Empire is the brainchild of “recovering” stand-up comic Rebecca Henderson, which isn’t hard to picture after seeing her brand’s offerings. “Weird Empire is a personal problem turned public nuisance,” Rebecca tells us. “Our line of passive-aggressive goods is an unhappy marriage between classic taste and bad ass style.” Hailing from Charlotte, NC, Rebecca credits her Southern heritage for the intuitively subversive humor her brand is known for. And while Rebecca chalks up the resurgence of pin culture to it being a “one-size-fits-all-genderless-melting-pot-of-freak,” she thinks the recent renewed interest in pin culture is most exciting for a different reason: Because the so-called Pokémon generation grew up, obtained disposable income, and is “predisposed to wanna catch ‘em all.”
    Shop Weird Empire

    Mean Folk
    Founder: Jon Testa
    Location: Burlington, VT
    Vibe: Sarcastic
    Holy grail: Vintage pins at antique stores

    As founder Jon Testa puts it, Mean Folk is a brand that makes “goods for people with bad attitudes,” which sits well with their line of sarcastic and witty designs. Their sort of self-deprecating humor runs through everything they do, even the way they gather inspiration. (Jon explains he’s not a big “people person” and finds motivation in being a hermit up in the cold of Vermont.) While the themes within the brand’s products might be viewed as somewhat negative, their dark humor and relatable indifference makes them widely universal to the current generation. “I feel that people usually buy pins that reflect their personality and interests. So if you come up with an idea that's relatable, someone will want to wear it,” Jon says. He’s noticed that the greatest impact comes from his less-than-serious designs that have the ability to make people laugh—which isn’t far off from the pin Jon tells us is his personal favorite: “A Kwik-E-Mart ‘Jesus’ name tag pin that I got at Universal Studios.” When you make the connection, it’s pretty easy to see our friends from Springfield might have had an influence on the pins you’re wearing today.
    Shop Mean Folk

    Never Made
    Founder: Francisco Reyes Jr.
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Vibe: Simple and iconic
    Holy grail: World War II-era pins and patches

    Graphic designer Francisco Reyes is the man behind Never Made, the brand he uses as a vehicle to publish his artwork. Explaining what the name means, Francisco says, “You know when someone says, ‘Oh, that person made it’? Well, Never Made means the opposite of that. I never want to be done. Never Made translates to ‘never finished.’” And Francisco doesn’t seem to be slowing down, either. Whether he’s gotten lucky being surrounded by constant inspiration or is just incredibly good at finding it, ideas are always striking. “Los Angeles is known for its congested freeways, where I spend around 10 hours a week stuck in gridlock traffic. This is where the idea for the donut box pin came to mind,” Francisco says about one of his most popular designs. “I thought it would be funny to make a pin out of an empty donut box but I never thought it would get the attention it has gotten.” It probably also doesn’t hurt to sit four feet away from OBEY’s own Shepard Fairey 40 hours a week in their studio—a place where creative ideas are always floating around.
    Shop Never Made

    Beholder Badge Club
    Founder: Trevor Girard
    Location: San Clemente, CA
    Vibe: Never not stoked
    Holy grail: A pin with a good story 

    Birthed out of “a love for the outdoors and underground art of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Beholder Badge Club was started by designer Trevor Girard after he felt frustration with the corporate world, but an ongoing urge to create unique, wearable art. “I’ve been creating T-shirt graphics for over a decade. In that time I’ve seen the rise and fall of printed items in the market place,” Trevor tells us. “Right now, we are in a serious graphic drought. People want to get back to basics and they want to keep things real. Pins (and other tchotchkes) are a small way to keep art in clothing.” To help keep things real, Trevor designs items that feel like they could be found in a thrift store, something that feels like it had a “past life.” Relying on the inspiration of art from the ‘60s and ‘70s helps Trevor bring this mission statement to life. And while the story behind a pin is the most important part, there are plenty of other reasons to collect them. “Pins are small, they’re cute, and they allow you to make a statement while still being a little tongue-in-cheek,” Trevor says. “Kind of like watching a kitten growl.”
    Shop Beholder Badge Club

    Good Worth
    Founder: Matt Wentz
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Vibe: Edgy and fun 
    Holy grail: Old biker pins 

    From accessories to clothing, Good Worth is a brand that teeters on the edge of risqué with their themes and designs—which makes for great head-turning material. Whether it’s a nude girl under palm trees or an icon of a “magic mushroom,” Good Worth knows how to dance around that fine line of PG-13. Sort of like what bikers might adorn their leather jackets in the ‘70s, that vintage vibe is definitely present and well regarded. So whether you’re looking to decorate your own moto vest and jacket, or simply spruce up your baseball cap or backpack, Good Worth is a good starting point for pieces you know will get attention.
    Shop Good Worth & Co

    Shop UO Journal Issue 2
    Head to UO’s Space 15 Twenty at 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd in Los Angeles, CA on February 25th to celebrate the launch of UO Journal issue 2 and the second release of our ongoing Artist Editions series.