It's the mindbogglingly craziest thing ever and one of the best examples of the power of social media - Instagram, in this case - that I have ever witnessed.
Ship John started off as... Nothing. Web-page selling a couple of leather wallets, the most basic, folded kind & some beanies, story of which you can read here...
Anyway, it was one amongst dozens of such stores that popped up at the time (and arguably, one of the shittier ones) that woulda faded into obscurity within a year had the guy who runs it - Mike I think his name is? - not been a marketing genius. He began posting photos, stories of that hipster wannabe back-to-the-land lifestyle (aesthetic, as kids would call it nowadays), y'know, sunsets, forest, axes, jeans, choir-coats, baseball hats, dogs, dirty old motorcycles with taped head-light, "simpler times"... You know the drill. And he was good at it. Also, making himself the main character of these stories was a good call, too because of his personal style that's just right at the edge of being edgy, while never truly crossing it thus sitting right with either crowd.
Right around that time, they began introducing clothes. Hard to say why, though. As you can see, they've got a couple of the most basic, uninspired shirts & T-shirts, a pair of jeans and one canvas jacket - The Wills.
The Wills is in no way special. It is a simplified version of Carhartt's & Key Imperial's 1960's chore-coat that would've had the same fate as the beanies, had it not been for Mike's raw, natural talent at Instagram.
Guy spent a few weeks rolling around the dirt in this jacket, posted a few photos and next thing you know, hordes of bearded guys in flannel shirts and baseball caps wanted in on it. Not the jacket. Nobody in the world buys this jacket because they want a boring-ass, mustard chore-coat. Nobody wants to do any actual labor wearing a $600 jacket. No. They buy it because they want to be Mike.
And the most ironic thing is that Mike, the owner of Ship John, is a pure businessman. White-collar, a tie and a suit, "Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark..." business card businessman.
He's got Wesco, Good Art HLYWD, $300+ axes that are actually sold-out) and he even has Langlitz making the leather version of the jacket for him... And people are buying into it, paying hundreds for their place in a years-long imaginary, gimmick waiting list so that they can get the most basic, boring, unflattering canvas jacket that shouldn't cost more than $59.99.
So there you have it. Ship John is a tale of the American dream and the power of social media. And nothing more. And nothing less...
I can understand the appeal of "simpler times" though. I even have a dirty old motorcycle.
But ironically I think I moved much closer to a simpler, less stressful existence by deleting all my social media profiles a few years back. Which means I don't have much of a clue about any of the things that people get all excited about.
Now I'm oblivious but happy.