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Howes & Baum's Long Johns Can Be Worn On and Off the Farm

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Menswear designers have long been nostalgic for clothes worn by woodsy "real men" of the past—hunters, farmers, cowboys. Companies like Best Made Co have built their businesses on selling fancified versions of outdoor gear such as $65 Japanese-made pocket knives or $300 axes hand-lathed from Appalachian hickory.

In Howes & Baum's case, the heritage Americana look was inspired by familial ties. Both founders come from a families with rural backgrounds: Matt Baumgartner, who lives in upstate New York, counts a grandfather who was a logger and Craig Howes, who resides in England, is the grandson of a farmer. The duo met not hammering railroad ties or digging ditches, though, but two years ago at a birthday party in Miami. Matt, at the time and currently, was a restaurant entrepreneur. "We were just talking about regrets and I had said that one of my biggest regrets is that I never went into fashion," says Matt. "I dedicated all my time to building these restaurants. And he was like, me too."

The duo decided to go for it, focusing their attempts on a singular and iconic wardrobe item: the long john. "We put some money aside, and found a designer to help us with the technical side of things, and we're doing it. It's been fun. I wish I started 20 years ago."

"I was raised very rurally, my grandparents are loggers, and [Craig's] grandparents were raised on a farm, so our personalities felt more farm-driven," Matt explains of the rustic nature of the collection. Long johns are still part of the line, which has grown to include sweaters, hoodies, button-downs, henleys, tees and shorts priced from $50 to around $200.

After previewing their second collection at Project earlier this year, they received a nod of approval [note: .pdf] from industry trade pub Women's Wear Daily. "That was a big moment to me, because I really respect that publication," says Matt. "They mentioned us as one of the standouts in Vegas where we were showing. I was like wow, I know a lot of people who read WWD. I was really proud."
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