St. Louis Designers Mix Vintage Hot Rods and High-End Man-Fashion

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It must be said that most people's idea of hot-rod fashion comes from the Fonz and the "Go Greased Lightning" number in the movie Grease, that is, leather jackets and shop-class jumpsuits, both worn over plain white undershirts.

It must also be said that the most lingering image of an attempt to mix hot-rod fashion and high-fashion -- in some minds, at least -- comes from an episode of the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks in which one of the geeks, in an attempt to be cool, shows up at school in a "Parisian Nightsuit" that appears to take its inspiration more from an auto-repair shop than from France. It does not go over well.

Nonetheless, Charlie Smith and Jon Maurice, two St. Louis admen-turned-designers, have launched a new fashion line, TRIM, which is, in Maurice's words, "a premium menswear line with contemporary cut and style inspired by iconic American cars."

That means that you would not actually wear one of TRIM's $55 T-shirts to work on your car.

The designers take most of their inspiration from Smith Racing, the speedshop in Sedalia where Smith's father has been customizing cars for 40 years and now produces TRIM's custom belt buckles.

"You don't have to own a hot rod to appreciate our clothes," Maurice says. "You just have to wish you did." (Maurice does, in fact, own a hot rod, a '64 Impala Supersport in tuxedo black, which he says he fixed up himself.)

TRIM's line features the aforementioned T-shirts and belt buckles and also jackets, jeans, button-down shirts, trucker hats and messenger bags. The gimmick is that they are all trimmed (geddit?) with upholstery and hood liners from vintage cars. The current collection features the '32 Ford, '57 Chevy and '69 Camaro in powder blue, matador red and madrid yellow (all, Maurice notes, vintage colors).

"The '57 Chevy had this amazing cloud pattern," Maurce says. "It doesn't just look cool, the fabric tells a story."Most of the upholstery comes from the manufacturers, who still have bolts of never-used material, though Smith and Maurice also occasionally use reproductions. (Given the mythology of the backseat of the '57 Chevy, using new material is probably a wise decision.)

click to enlarge Dude looks totally ready to crawl under the hood. - TRIM
Dude looks totally ready to crawl under the hood.
Most of the clothes are produced at TRIM's studio on Washington Avenue, except for the T-shirts, which are produced out of LA. (But they get silkscreened at a studio on Chouteau Avenue.) "We're interested in being a Midwest brand," says Maurice. "We're genuine, not celebrity whores. We don't need a stamp of approval from New York and LA. We can be more original, not heavily influenced by what goes on out there."

But, should you ever find yourself in LA, you can buy TRIM clothes at Glory, described by TRIM spokeswoman Tammy Derrigan as "a hip lifestyle boutique where celebrities like Brad Pitt shop."

No word on whether Missouri native Pitt has actually bought any TRIM merchandise. The Daily RFT will be scanning the pages of People and US Weekly closely for any sign of the telltale '69 Camaro checker pattern and invites our readers to do the same. In the meantime, enjoy this example of old-school hot rod fashion:

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