The Best of ’08 Part 1: Banta and I AM

A few weeks back I realized that somehow through DC, Gnu brands and Quik I had inadvertently given the Quiksilver stable of brands about 5 out of seven days of coverage. Not cool. I’m not saying those brands don’t deserve the coverage and respect they had doled out but really it was an editorial oversight. However there was a positive result. I sat down and ran through all of the brands that had reached out to me over the last year. Over the holiday I’ve managed to sift it down to two little upstart brands that I thought did a good job of jumping into the lifestyle mix.

So by now you are asking what makes me Mr. Smarty Pants and the keeper of all things cool. Well this is easy. It’s my blog. I can do whatever I want but if you are looking for specific criteria here it is: having some and at least a single message. Not o get all misty eyed but there was a time when stuff like skating was a sign of not fitting the norm and making your own way in the world. Pretty simple stuff if you could quantify rebellion or counter culture into an activity skating, snowboarding etc may fit that model. Certainly skating for its basic ease of entry and lower cost barriers. Getting back on track, these brands represent having fun and saying something instead of doing nothing. So lets get into the two who were picked from the messy mass: I Am Designs and Banta.

With so many companies dropping into the lifestyle arena these days it’s hard to sort the good from the weak. I Am stuck out right away for Deep Ties to the Bluebird wax snow tea,. Knowing how amazing the Bluebird crew is it was pretty funny to see them back thins. But, with designs like their Rosa Parks number and the more honest if not juvenile “Drop Panties Not Bombs” shirts it’s easy to see that the message hasn’t changed much in 40 years just the way we are saying it. While I’m sure a pair of mothers in Vermont would think “Drop Panties Not Bombs is sexist, sets a bad example for kids, is potentially un-American for not supporting the bombing of random countries and more importantly only recommended by 1 out of 6 dentists (the reverse Crest Model) the truth is it’s just another way of saying an age old phrase: make love not war. But nobody in Vermont is a hippy and can remember that are they? OK, getting off my soap box for a Moment I Am Does an amazing job of blending quirky little jabs at the establishment and keeping a slightly underground feel. A tightrope act but one they walk very well.

Banta, oh where do we start with Banta? Simply Put it’s clean but a subversive kind of cleanliness. Have you ever been pushed into doing something but you’re not quite sure how you got there? That’s Banta. It’s the above the board looking shirt that your mom will look at and love. But for you there’s a deeper meaning, if one of their shirts says I Heart Waves, t’s because you god damn heart waves. The most elegant and slightly off kilter is the simple script. The black Banta shirt with red script immediately conjured images of the Vespa logo. Fun, easy and something I hadn’t seen pulled off well. Coupled with Stay Gold shirt you get a distinct ‘Outsider kind of vibe. I only hope they can stay Innocent and keep it going.

So there you have it my vote for two companies that sprouted in 2008 and I hope they grow to bigger and better things in 2008. More best of 08 rolling out today and through the rest of the week. Stay tuned.

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