I was walking down Main Street in the sleepy coastal town of Seal Beach, California when I was stopped in my tracks by a glimpse through a doorway of an apple-red classic Triumph motorcycle. I stepped back and looked up at the store’s name: Tankfarm & Co. The hanging sign outside proclaimed “Supplies for Gentlemen of Sport and Leisure.”
I ventured into the shop and was immediately impressed: aged wood decor, motorcycle helmets galore, posters of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, a healthy stock of Red Wing Shoes and a hanging rack of high-quality denim – this was my kind of store.
Having something of an innate attraction to denim, I immediately walked over to the rack to peruse their goods and found pairs of Tellason denim hanging next to Levi’s Made and Crafted. After a few minutes (alright, maybe ten) of checking out the denim selection inside and out, I explored the rest of the store. “Explore” is the proper verb: each corner held something of interest for a man into heritage Americana. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here.
I was lucky enough to sit down with the founders/owners/designers, brothers John and Mike Anderson, and get some inside information on the company. Founded by the duo in 2003, Tankfarm has been has been producing clothing under their name for a decade now, counting among their vendors giants like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s alongside many high-end boutiques.
They produce t-shirts, woven knits, fleece, hats, and they will soon be producing their own denim. Their shop carries an ever-expanding list of brands they find to be simpatico with their own mainline collection. “We’ve got new stuff coming in all the time, every day,” John told me as he rearranged a rack and put a new shirt on a mannequin.
The Andersons are third-generation printers. Their grandfather started as a type-setter, eventually opening up his own printing shop; their father got into the family business and started silk-screening; and the brothers, after taking a crack at the music business, found their passion in printing and designing t-shirts.
Tankfarm & Co. was born out of this passion, passed down generation to generation. As a tribute to their grandfather, each one of their clothing items features a tag with his photograph in a James-Dean pose circa 1950. The Andersons have taken their passion beyond producing clothing and opening a shop recently as well, having created designs for a number of different customers including restaurant logos and movie posters.
While John Anderson was giving me the grand tour of the store, he said, “This is all us. We’re not just selling this stuff because it’s cool. We live it.” A display of Bell Helmets sits next to a stocked shelf of Imperial pomades and shaving products; a vintage surfboard hangs next to a huge American flag presented to Mike Anderson for his service as a lifeguard.
John leads me over to an area at the front of the store that looks out on Main Street; a wooden bar complete with stools. “We were gutting the store next door for my wife’s shop, and this wood in the rafters was just sick, so we used it to create this little bar, a place where you can sit and drink your coffee.”
The design studio in the back was just as cool as the retail area of the store, notable features including a classic guitar in sunburst leaning against a desk, a waxed surfboard standing in the corner, and examples of their work all over the walls. The Anderson brothers do their work here together with their team, throwing ideas back and forth even in the midst of our chat. I was able to check out their forthcoming cuts of denim, one raw and one with distressed detailing – there’ll definitely be an update coming when it gets closer to release.
What is clear from the first moment you enter the store is that the Anderson brothers are dedicated to their craft as designers. John and Mike have created an eclectic, one-of-a-kind shop. It feels like an extension of this dedication, and as a result really feels like a place where I would gladly hang out in my spare time.
The raw denim hanging in the store complements the entire store perfectly, just as part of the draw of raw denim is that we each make the pairs our own. John and Mike have taken a family tradition and made it their own. Next time you’re in Seal Beach, do yourself a favour and check it out. You won’t be sorry.