READY FOR THE BANDIT
Seen / Heard / Known Sits down with Jen McMillan, the awesomeness behind Bandit Brand.
SHK: How did the idea to start Bandit Brand come about (and when did you start it)?
JEN MCMILLAN: It mainly started because I owned a boutique that sold new and vintage clothing, and I was having trouble finding T-shirts I wanted to carry in the store. Vintage was getting so expensive and over picked, and I’m not competitive or quick enough to beat anyone to the good T-shirts, so I just started making my own. I wanted to try to nail the whole vintage feel of tees and make them so the more you wear them the better they look. I have worn jeans and T-shirts forever and my T-shirts always really meant a lot to me, especially concert tees.
Do you have an all time favorite Tee that you’ve been wearing for years? What’s the story?
I have a shit ton of tees. I guess my favorite that I’ve had for the longest was my way ex boyfriends Master of Puppets T-shirt. I’m sure he still wonders where it is (laughs). He got the dog, I got the Tee. It’s so worn you can barely tell what it is and I cut the sleeves off as soon as I found that he had left it behind.
How would you define your brand in one sentence?
Fucking raddest in the universe. (I’m a Leo.)
What do you think people miss when they spend too much time following the latest trends?
I think they miss a lot. I just got into a weird instagram “argument” with a young girl/popular blogger who was insinuating that Wasteland and I had copied her look. She had herself in red pants and a vintage black biker T-shirt and typed the date on there and then a photo from the Wasteland site of a girl in red shorts and one of my tanks with a similar print dated a few months later. I have been making that shirt for about six years, so she was probably around 14 or 15 then — so I hardly copied her and I’m old so I dressed like that 25 years ago and all the sudden I am copying her?
Then we got on the subject of vintage and she said it didn’t matter that people who wear Harley shirts don’t ride motorcycles, or that people who wear heavy metal band shirts don’t need to even like/know anything about the band, and it made me sad to think that someone would wear a shirt of a band they don’t listen to just because other people are wearing them. When I grew up we called people like that posers, but now it’s totally acceptable to be fake. Before I “talked” to her I was under the impression and totally stoked that people were getting into these bands again and it had never occurred to me that someone would wear a concert shirt and not give a shit about the band. I am mostly confused by it.
We see that you used Nikki Lane in your lookbook shots. How did that collaboration come about?
We have a mutual friend who is a stylist named Leanne Ford and she hooked us up. Nikki and I have become good friends and work/play together whenever we can. I went to Nashville to do a trunk show in her shop High Class Hillbilly and then she came out to my house to be in my last photoshoot and hang out. She is awesome.
You also select and sell some great vintage pieces. How do you go about searching for those items — if you don’t mind giving away your secret recipe, of course.
I have collected vintage for years and am a total hoarder, but I am reforming myself and have decided to share my treasures with the world. I am about to unleash about 15 years worth of awesomeness in the next few weeks. I have a pretty epic T-shirt collection found over the years at thrift stores, etc. and a bunch of cool housewares items too, and they will all be up on the site soon. I’m from Colorado and my son and my friend Scott both know what I am looking for, so, they mail me boxes from out there every couple of months.
Thrifting in California sucks compared to the Midwest. All we did was hunt cool stuff when I lived there, out here I don’t know what to do with myself. We would wake up, get coffee, and find cool shit. Now I wake up, get coffee and wander aimlessly.
What’s the best saying you’ve ever read on a graphic tee… ever?
“I may not go down in history, but I’ll go down on your little sister.”
Who is the Bandit Brand wearer?
Man there is a bunch of different types of girls and guys who dig it. In my shop I noticed that it appealed to so many different types of people. In my head I designed certain pieces for certain girls and in reality the opposite girl would buy it. I like to watch people shop for my stuff because it makes them smile or laugh and stirs something up in them. I have so many designs from western to biker to Americana to heavy metal, so it’s kind of across the board.
Tell us one things we should:
SEE: Wild at Heart.
HEAR: Witchfinder General.
KNOW: Factory Farming Sucks.
[Images curtsey of BanditBrand.]
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