Norman Russell Denim – An Amalgam of Americana
American-made goods are making its way back into the market with plenty of independent denim companies at the helm. One such brand, Norman Russell, is taking that idea and keeping it in the family by building the brand with inspiration spanning four generations.
Kortney Hastin started the brand in 2012, coming from a career in marketing and advertising. He’s taken influence and inspiration from his family and used it as the DNA for Norman Russell. Taking a look at the garments you’ll notice a lot of details that originate from several different areas of menswear. Military style epaulets, pen pockets that harken back to the days of vintage workwear, and hunting inspired shoulder pads can all be seen throughout the Norman Russell collection.
But the common thread that runs through every Norman Russell garment is Americana. Norman Russell is an all American brand to the core and its roots stem from the Hastin’s family tree. Much of the military feel comes from Norman Lee, Kortney’s grandfather, who was a veteran of the United States Navy while the outdoorsmen qualities of the brand come from his brother Dustin, an avid hunter and fisher.
The brand is based in California, so it also has a laid-back sensibility about it which comes from Kortney’s father, Rusty, whom he describes as “an easy-going California kid at heart.” They even use cotton harvested in the California Central Valley for their shirting on top of producing their goods in Los Angeles.
All of the denim used comes from Cone Mills with three fits in both raw and washed finishes. Hastin’s grandfather was the main catalyst for the use of selvedge denim as he can be seen wearing some good ol’ American selvedge in many of their family photos. Norman Russell also employs Japanese fabrics for much of its shirting.
It’s all American made and each piece is named after one of Hastin’s family members. Not only that, but you’ll learn a thing or two about each of his family members since he reveals a short story about them in the product descriptions.
Keeping in line with this level of intimacy and openness, the brand maintains a level of transparency through each product description as well as a short video that illustrates everything the brand stands for.
The designs look familiar but feel fresh at the same time and may remind you of Ralph Lauren in some ways, who no doubt has had some influence on Hastin in the process.
The Rusty sweater, named after Kortney’s father, is Norman Russell’s take on the classic sweatshirt with a beach life edge to it. The Tommy II is a work shirt made from a 5 oz. Japanese chambray and named after his uncle. The Cookie, lovingly named after one of Kortney’s best friends, is their slim fitting jean which uses American raw selvedge denim. Not surprisingly, Hastin is proud to say that each piece is handmade in limited batches in America.
It’s a brand that’s higher end in its materials and construction but none too snooty which many people will identify themselves with, especially those who admire Americana in all of its forms. Kortney Hastin does a great job of telling the story of the brand in a way that’s sentimental and endearing, connecting with his followers on a level that hits a little closer to home.
And that’s ultimately what he wants his customers to feel. He doesn’t want them to be merely fans of the brand, but he wants them to feel like family and that they’re actually a part of Norman Russell.