We had the good fortune of connecting with Wesley Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Wesley, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process has certainly evolved, however, the original idea was to buy a Volkswagen Vanagon, rip the interior out of the back, and build it out as a mobile store. As a resident of Encinitas, CA at the time, I figured I’d throw my surfboard on the roof, go for a surf, and sling t-shirts in the parking lot. It was during a Google search researching Vanagons that I found an image that ended up being the Shift Logo pattern which serves as the logo to the STANDARD H Garage Collection. If I had to explain the mindset now, it is to produce high quality automotive and travel-inspired apparel and accessories presented in an understated way. Factories here in the United States tend to do the best work with natural fibers, so that has been a focus with regards to the apparel side of things, and given their natural growth, their regrowth contributes to the sustainability while having everything made in Los Angeles shrinks our carbon footprint. Because car people are often watch enthusiasts, STANDARD H has become somewhat of a “watch person’s” brand which has been interesting to witness.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Most automotive-inspired apparel brands simply have a bought blank t-shirt with a screen-printed image of a car on the front, or perhaps some spin on the colors used in a motorsports livery. I don’t wear a lot of logos and screen-printed items myself, so I really wanted the details of my products to be nuanced in their presentation and not so on-the-nose, design-wise. I really wanted to find a way to exemplify the idea of “tell me you’re an automotive enthusiast without telling me you’re an automotive enthusiast.” My background is on the retail side of the business, so I was selling clothes for nearly 20 years before starting my own brand. I worked for the likes of J. Crew, James Perse and GUCCI to name a few, and I learned so much about product, construction and presentation while working at these companies. From a branding perspective, James Perse had the biggest impact on me, and I have honored that brand via the tab on the lower left of my garments within the STANDARD H Signature Collection. However, instead of using it as real estate for a logo or my brand name, I wanted a more nuanced way to present the “branding.” In keeping with the inspiration being automotive, I found a small polyester fabric that serves as a nod to the lightweight door handles found in a Porsche GT3 RS. I’m a big fan of soliciting a double-take and creating conversation about product, and I think the tab is a wonderful expression of that while also paying tribute to a previous job that had such a positive influence on me. The Shift Logo (on the hats and Garage Collection t-shirts) does an even better job at grabbing attention and conversation, while the Signature Collection is meant to be more understated. The Signature Collection is still very much in its infancy, though it is growing. New styles are on their way, and it’s been fun naming each item after various models of cars. At the end of the day, the apparel’s quality is a major selling point, so it isn’t Fast Fashion. It’s made to last.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Funny you should ask, because the STANDARD H website was just recently revamped, and along with that came the Travel section where I share all of my favorite spots I’ve been to. The list is continually growing as I travel to new places, so it’s a good idea to check back every so often. Email subscribers also get brief write-ups of trips I take that no one else receives, so that’s something that’s been fun to create, too. With regards to Arizona, I’ve spent more time in Scottsdale than anywhere else, and one is certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to food. Though perhaps a foregone conclusion, I love Four Till Four for morning espresso/coffee, however I also enjoy a pour over from Press coffee. My wife and I had brunch at the Canal Club inside The Scott Resort hotel and it was wonderful. There was live music being played – an acoustic set that was great. I like the Henry for lunch and Olive & Ivy for brunch, lunch or dinner. It’s great. For pizza, I really like the casual vibe of POMO Pizzeria in downtown Phoenix. The gelato is also great there. Getting away from food, Taliesin West serves as somewhat of a pilgrimage for us architecture fans. In fact, once upon a time, I wanted to be an architect, and that would probably be something I’d love to do if I weren’t into apparel. As a golfer, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the Phoenician Golf Club. I was in town for a wedding this past February and we had a blast. It’s a beautiful course with great conditions and the staff was awesome. Talking Stick is less-expensive, and a really fun course to play, as well.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to shout out my grandfather. He has served as an inspiration to me throughout my entire life. He is a retired physician who had his own private practice. He worked extremely hard, but never lost sight of balance. He has valued travel all over the world as a source of education while doing an incredible amount of charitable work in his local community of Winston Salem, NC. He’s currently 95 years old, battling Alzheimer’s, and lives in a retirement facility with wonderful care that he helped create & build some 30+ years ago, so it’s been a really special circumstance to see fall into place.
Other: Podcast Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/1AJRSasltWCHtzV9fOCHNs?si=yumyqh7wSSK_3VB985m1aw Apple Podcast Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/standard-h-podcast/id1472116558