Out in Los Angeles, a special sort of menswear movement is brewing. Brands like Apolis are doing their part to change the global fashion industry through advocacy, and brands based closer to home are doing their part to bolster American craftsmanship and design. Pistol Lake definitely fits in that group. The brand excels at making heritage-quality, vintage-inspired basics at price points that definitely won’t break the bank — just the ticket in an age where guys are continually more interested in where and how their clothes are made. And their story is rooted in the kind of down-home Americana that’s rare to find among brands.
“Pistol Lake was where my brother and I camped growing up,” said co-founder William Sulinski via email. “It was rough and remote, but it taught us early to focus on the simple things in life — being with family (and being) outdoors.”
That spirit of freedom led William to partner with Shane Ermitano to start the brand — and making T-shirts for themselves soon led to much more. They’re doing all manner of great basics now, including crewneck sweatshirts and long-sleeve henleys, in addition to rugged pocket tees and V-necks.
They’re also dishing out short-sleeve henleys and other heritage-quality classics, like baseball tees. These are items that can be dressed up or styled more casually via high-low style combos, as seen here. The quality and wearability is definitely inherent in the production — the seams of its shirts are double-stitched, the fit is trim and the fabrics are soft, often making use of durable yet well-fitting jersey cotton. That attention to detail and commitment to quality really shines through in the brand’s offerings, but the endeavor hasn’t been without its struggles, Sulinski said.
“Building something, anything, is always a struggle, but within that struggle is the joy of it all,” he said. “When you look back, you remember all the toughest challenges. It doesn’t always feel the best at the time, but I think it’s important to hold onto those memories because they are what keep it real.”
Sulinski admits that the brand — which runs a tight ship between Sulinski, Ermitano and partner Andrew Kneisley currently — made mistakes in the early going. Now though, the brand has prides itself on building relationships with dye houses, mills and several other production aspects of its business. Building a company with the help of friends and close partners is also something the team at Pistol Lake prides itself on.
“We made sure to go slow, learn every detail and we could along the way, and most importantly, build strong relationships,” Sulinski said.
Those relationships are paying dividends as far as quality goes, and leading to some new offerings for the company.
Pistol Lake stocks other sport-inspired basics like sweatshorts and sweatpants made out of soft French Terry, recent offerings for the company, but Oxford and chambray shirts are planned for the future (check out more of what they’re up to here).
“It comes down to what we want for ourselves, and who has the capacity to push it forward,” Sulinski said. “We’ve been working on buttondowns for a while now — it has taken so many iterations for us to nail the fit, but we’re getting close.”
Input from the brand’s followers and fans has been a big help for the company, which regularly pushes out updates on new and developing product via its Facebook page. And for the time being, if the quality of past offerings is any indication, Sulinski and the rest of the team at Pistol Lake will be around making shirts and other excellent basics well into the future.