Whole Life Magazine

April / May 2018

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city of angels B ased in Manhattan Beach, Old Bull Lee is the epito- me of beach-centric style. Owner Lee Johnson makes clothes that represent the best of beach living – cloth- ing that's hip enough to leave the sand and head to city streets. It's soft, it's durable, it fi ts well, and it shows off a robustly curated, sophisticated design and fabric that makes a bold lifestyle choice. But perhaps more important than the fashion Johnson cre- ates is his strong belief in mak- ing sustainable clothing — qual- ity clothing that not only lasts for consumers, but also benefi ts the environment. While that starts with the fabric he uses, it doesn't end there. "Yes, we use organic cotton in all our prod- ucts. But truth- fully, how socially conscious a sup- ply chain may be isn't the con- versation that everyone should be having. Trends and fast fashion promote a disposable mentality and 'disposable' anything is the real villain here," Johnson says. "American consumers now buy four times more clothing than they did in the 1980s. Twenty-six billion pounds of cloth- ing ended up in landfi lls last year. It takes approximately 713 gallons of water to create one T-shirt," he notes. Those numbers add up to a staggering amount of waste. "The brand new, but worn-in-look, apparel items are worse because those undergo aggressive chemical laundering that breaks down the fabrics until they become soft and old," he asserts. And that use of chemicals alone can be extremely damaging to the environment. Johnson passionately believes that the best place to start when it comes to creating environmentally-friendly clothing is to eliminate the waste of disposable, poorly-made clothes. "A good sturdy jacket that gets worn several hundred times does far less damage to the environment than even the most environmentally consciously produced garment that is only worn a few times and then ends up in a landfi ll," John- son relates. His solution? "Buy less, buy better, buy quality." Johnson's belief in sustainable clothing, and living, began as a child. "I grew up in the east, on a farm out in the mid- dle of nowhere. Land everywhere, no kids – all your friends were trees. We didn't have television, winters lasted forev- er, clothes were thoughtless but lasting warmth," he laughs. Eventually, he moved to California, worked as an architect for 15 years, and "One morning I woke up, stretched my arms, walked out the door, and started a clothing company. I think it has something to do with contribution and courage and standing up and saying, 'This is the best I can do.' I respect when I see people do that, and I guess I wanted to try." And that's where his connection to architecture pays off. "The only thing that architecture and clothing share in com- mon is that to get something made well, you have to know what you are doing. That is one of the things about me; I have a lot in common with an acorn. My nature is to put my head down and grind it out till I've gotten to where I want to go." And where he wants to go is with a company that doesn't just offer attractive clothing, but clothing that lasts, contrib- utes to a better environment, and by doing so, betters the earth. And for Johnson, that's the real apex of style. Check out Old Bull Lee's fashion and socially conscious clothes at www.oldbulllee.com Photos: Courtesy of Old Bull Lee On Cool — and Sustainable — Clothing OLD BULL LEE FOUNDER LEE JOHNSON By Genie Davis April/May 2018 7

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