Have you tried finding an authentic motorcycle shirt that captures the spirit of the post-war American motorcycle clubs? Can’t find a jersey that looks, feels and fits like something “Iron Man” Kretz wore 80 years ago on the dirt tracks of Southern California? Look. No. Further. Jill Smith of Hometown Jersey has dialed in the real deal, vintage style jerseys featuring made-to-order, hand-applied felt lettering.
When we saw a tweet from roots rocker JD McPherson showing off his Hometown Jersey, we had to get a hold of one. Not long after our love-at-first-sighting, we received our very own Good Spark Garage “Original Hometown Jersey” with raglan sleeves in black and cream. Now this is some fine, made-in-America nostalgia you’re looking at.
You’ll feel compelled to twist the fine-gauge 100% cotton between your fingers. But here’s what we dig: it ain’t the kind of namby pamby, thin ‘n stretchy material found on today’s hipsters. Nope. You could ride yer desert sled through pucker bushes with heavy-knit confidence…and look dashing doing it (in a dirt-under-your-nails, hot rod kinda way).
The beauty of these crew-neck throwbacks is their unashamed appropriate sleeve length and long, snug cuff. If you have long arms, expect a 3/4 fit. If you have average-length arms, they’ll end near your wrist without a pillowed amount of excess. To emphasize how unique they are, the jerseys are made exclusively for Hometown Jersey by a near-century old knitwear company in the U.S.
The Hometown Jersey line includes four colors at the moment (above): red, black, navy and burgundy. They’re mens sizes, but c’mon, they’d look just as good or better on the gals. As for your choice of lettering, the base price covers a heat-pressed grouping of felt letters and the higher end of the cost range gets you individually sewn-on letters. For the quality of jersey and the tedium that must be involved, this is good bang for your buck.
Of course, we chose a narcissistic route by requesting our motorcycle culture blog/persona emblazoned on the jersey (as Corey models above), but the origin of the company’s name comes from wanting to pay homage to one’s hometown. Many customers have their city and state applied while some opt for their motorcycle club, car club, business name or whatever floats their boat.
Meet Hometown Jersey’s owner/operator, Jill Smith. That’s her wearing her Joshua Tree, CA, original jersey. After seeing so many cool finished products, we wanted to learn more about the idea and person behind the brand…
GSG: A lotta folks probably have you apply their hometowns to your jerseys, but what other text have customers requested?
Jill: The name Hometown Jersey came from a conversation I had with a friend, musician JD McPherson. He wanted a Smith Fabrication jersey which is one of the original designs I came up with for TK’s business. We were talking about making one with the name of his hometown, Broken Arrow, OK. He called it his “hometown pride” shirt. Within a day I decided to launch a website and offer text on our jersey for anyone who was interested. From there I’ve ended up doing names of cities all over the world as well as club names like the Oilers CC and MC, Saddled Weasels MC, Tribunal MC in Maine, Iron Lords Crown Town CC and many more. I’ve done restaurant names, hair salons, tattoo shops, you name it and we’ve pretty much covered it in felt. We post as many as we can on our Instagram feed.
GSG: Your jerseys certainly have an Americana aesthetic that’s hard to find; what’s the general response from customers when they find you?
Jill: I just launched my website in Oct. (2013) and have been really surprised at the positive response. Its been amazing. The design of our Jersey was an attempt to make a unique custom logo shirt for my husband TK’s business based off a vintage racing jersey. He is a huge vintage car enthusiast and builder, so we wanted to make a jersey that reflected his interest instead of another screen printed Tee. The quality of the Original Hometown Jersey speaks for itself and we are adamant in only putting out high quality products that are made in the USA.
“We seem to have struck a chord with people who appreciate vintage bikes, cars and clothing in general.”
GSG: You’re based in Southern California where a lot of motorcycle clubs started emerging after the war, do you still see remnants of the past in today’s motorcycle culture?
Jill: I think the passion and craftsmanship absolutely lives on in today’s culture. From motorcycles, hot rods, surfing, music and architecture; it’s the same energy. There is so much talent out there right now that we can’t wait to get to the next show to check it out.
GSG: In a world saturated with mass production, what kind of satisfaction do you get from a made-to-order service?
Jill: It’s really satisfying when someone writes us with an idea for their personal jersey and we turn it into a reality using felt as the medium. TK and I only want to put out great quality work, or the best that we can do. We are not at all interested in mass produced products made off shore. Hometown Jersey will always be evolving and improving the service; a natural evolution of the creative process and that’s the only way we want to work.
“The biggest satisfaction I get is when I receive a photo from the recipient wearing their custom Hometown Jersey with a happy look on their face!”
GSG: What led you to having an eye for nostalgia and an appreciation for simpler times?
Jill: When I moved to California in the early 90’s, TK was in a band called Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Trio. I went to see the band for the first time and saw a scene I had never experienced before. There were hundreds of people beautifully dressed in authentic vintage clothing. Once I got to know him, I realized he had a huge appreciation for all things from an earlier era. TK’s creative sensibility comes from a time when most products and goods were still made in the USA. I grew up in a very small town in Illinois in the 60’s and 70’s where everything seemed pretty simple. Of course now I realize how great it was.
GSG: What’s the future look like for Hometown Jersey?
Jill: I’m really excited to take Hometown Jersey on the road this year. I can make custom lettered jerseys on the spot so we’re starting out in Austin, TX this April (2014) at the Lonestar Round Up. Put on by the Kontinentals car club. Fathers Day weekend, we’ll be at the LA Roadster Show in Pomona, CA. It’s their 50th anniversary so we’re thrilled to have a booth and be part of their historic event. We have many other shows planned which we’ll keep posted on our website. We’ll continue to listen to our customers and produce products they want and that reflect our philosophy.
GSG: If you want to see what Hometown Jersey will be up to next, check out the links below: