When I moved to New England from California, all of my romantic notions of salty yet friendly, rugged folks who were nonchalantly hip in their peacoats and beards, drinking beer and leaning against hella old buildings on cobbled streets were, I see now, located primarily in the myth of Maine. Boston brims with khaki, P-town brims with theatrical make-up, Providence brims with art students (which is fine, but not thematic).
No, Maine is where it’s at, New England-wise. Portland specifically. Their City Hall even has a sailboat on top:
On a recent daytrip, I was really impressed with the quality of menswear in this sleepy, post-Industrial seaport (and, apparently, tourist destination for New Yorkers, which might explain the Barbour store and the adjacent, well-curated boutique stocked with Gant Rugger, The Hill-Side, and so on).
By the time I stumbled on the fantastic shirts by Loyal Citizen, I was thoroughly sold. Though I’m not typically a graphic tee fan, these hand-printed, beautifully designed, Maine-inspired shirts had me asking Michael questions like, “Could I be a guy from Maine? Like, ‘Hey, I’m from Maine. I live in a cabin and build my own fires. I am capable of withstanding extreme cold. My beard is amazing.’ ” (She said sure, by the way).
I haven’t stopped thinking about the shirts since I saw them, and since IBC has been focused on local shopping alternatives this holiday season, I figured I’d give you folks an opportunity to make someone in your life look that much more awesome by telling you about them. I also spoke to lifetime Mainer, Jeff Lauzier, who also happens to be the co-founder/president of Loyal Citizen, about beards, local economies, and what exactly it means to be from Maine.
I just moved back east from the West Coast, and Portland reminded me of the Pacific Northwest, only sturdier or something. How would you characterize Maine for the uninitiated?
Maine is a unique place. I grew up here. We are strong willed people who are a bit suspicious of people from “away.” We are hard workers and take great pride in doing things well. We don’t need much to survive but family, friends, and food. We take no shortcuts. We are a quiet bunch but don’t confuse that with a lack of knowledge. We know more about the world than what we get credit for…we just don’t vocalize it. If you want things done correctly, give us a shout. Just have plenty of Coffee Brandy (EDITOR’S NOTE: if you have never heard of Coffee Brandy, you should really read that Wiki page) and Bud Lite!
What’s the origin story of Loyal Citizen?
We came up with Loyal Citizen in the winter of 2008. Julian Redman (co-founder) and I were tired of seeing the same old tired designs on the market. We have always carried premium denim at the store (Joseph’s: I am store manager buyer and Julian is a buyer) but could never really find the right tee shirt to merchandise with the awesome denim that we had. Thus the birth of 410-4 the original company (our address is 410 Fore St.). We later changed the name to Loyal Citizen after we decided that our niche would be truly American made/designed/printed clothing and accessories.
We came up with Loyal Citizen after seeing an 18th century tombstone in the East End cemetery which said, “Here lies Arthur Chames…father/ husband/ and loyal citizen.”
Do you folks have a local/homegrown focus as a business? We’ve been really focused on local shopping this season here at IBC.
Our business for the most part is local. We do not want to limit our audience so, we always have two offerings: our “Maine” collection geared towards locals and tourists and a seasonal theme which is more universally appealing.
This year our seasonal theme was Arctic/Antarctic exploration: focusing on Ernest Shackleton‘s voyage in 1914 (EDITOR’S NOTE: loyal readers may remember that IBC has done several posts on Shackleton-inspired looks, like here ).
San Francisco, where I just came from, has a simliar interest in its port/sailing history. Do you see differences/similarities in West Coast vs. East Coast sailor imagery, especially when it comes to design revival?
We don’t subscribe to any imagery/fads/trends in the market. We do what we like or what inspires us. If that happens to coincide with trends and the flavor of the week, so be it. It’s not intentional. We see a working fishing port from the store’s back windows, so we are very much inspired by that, but it is not our only source. We are literary, ironic, woodsmen, greasers, fishermen, artists, and MAINERs (well 2/3 anyway).
Tell me the truth–would I look better in one of these shirts if I had a beard?
Beards are rugged (real beards…not the hipster kind). They keep you warmer in the winter. Beards are accessories, like our tees.
Of course you’d look better in one of our tees if you had a beard.
What are you excited about in menswear right now?
I’m digging the clean lines that menswear is pushing right now. I’m over the washed/distressed look. It is about time that we get back to basics. Raw denim, solid colored shirts, cardigans are all great pieces right now. The three piece suit is also ready for a comeback. The last three I’ve had custom made are three piece!