Totally Blown // Bullet-riddled Fashion in the Desert // Inspired by Mice and Guns
Cody Montgomery was living in Fairfield, Iowa, at his family’s tree farm, in a cabin by himself off the grid when a mouse came into his life. It chewed a bunch of holes through one of his tee shirts which immediately became his favorite shirt. “I started obsessing over it, thinking about different ways to put holes in clothing,” remembers Montgomery. His brother had a shotgun so he started shooting up his clothes, customizing all his gear with holes of various shapes and sizes.
“There isn’t a guidebook for this sort of thing,” he explains, and through trial and error he figured it out the best techniques for blasting the hell out of his wardrobe. He started out hanging items up and taking pot shots; then he balled them on the ground, shot them at point blank range. There was a specific type of shotgun, he discovered, that gave the most bang for his buck, “the most distress”. He had stumbled on something that inspired him, but wasn’t sure what to do with the idea.
Enter Love, the next greatest source of creative inspiration (next to mice). He met his partner Sarah, a fashion designer, in Los Angeles, and the stars aligned. “I told her the concept and she loved it.” When they visited the romantic desert landscape of Joshua Tree, California, they decided this was the place to make their dreams a reality. They founded they line of bullet riddled clothing, Totally Blown, two falls ago, and moved into a store front in the eclectic Art Queen art complex in downtown Joshua Tree last spring.
“I think the desert fits us perfectly,” says Montgomery, adding that he loves the smell of the chaparral after it rains (they also sell chaparral based toothpaste powder in their store, which I was too frightened to try). They shoot their clothes—tee shirts, denim, and jackets—at an unofficial shooting range close to their store, off a dirt road and close to the mountain range. “It’s a wild wild West sort of vibe out in Joshua Tree; essentially we live in a frontier town where 15 miles to the east there’s nothing for 100 miles. That rugged rawness is echoed in what we do.”
Not everyone gets the Totally Blown aesthetic, nor their process. Occasionally people get mad, and accuse them of promoting a pro-gun, NRA stance. Which is to miss the point entirely. “We are transforming the gun into a creative tool, taking a violent destructive thing and transforming it,” explains Cody. “The idea of the company is to make clothing that is on a par with conceptual art, which has a topic and a message, but is practical because you can wear it.”
Their logo, features two circles with positive and negative signs, reflecting their intention to inspire critical thought about their clothing, to see the positive and negative aspects of it and how it relates to the bigger picture. “We are trying to get people to open their minds to see complex issues, like guns, from multiple perspectives.”
The best thing about having a clothing line where you get to blow up the designs? The sheer chaos of it all. “The chaos is fun,” say Montgomery. “It’s like life in that way, in that you can only control so much, and most of the time you’re in this pit of chaos.”
The worst thing about having a clothing line where you get to blow up the designs?
All other clothing is now boring. “After wearing all this Totally Blown stuff I go into stores now and think “this stuff is not interesting at all, because there’s no concept behind it. It’s hard for me to buy something that doesn’t have holes in it now.”
Thanks a lot, mouse.
Brought to you by Caroline Ryder