sailor jerry, philadelphia


ATTENTION: Consumer Sales Department/Fallon Community Health Plan/PO Box 15121/Worcester, MA 01615-9831


Business card of Sailor Jerry, a vintage tattoo clothing store in Philadelphia


junior year at Smith, puccacharm‘s then-bf AF, who had gone to school for set-design in Oregon, and was currently living in Vermont and working at a paint store, introduced my fellow rum-and-coke lovers to Sailor Jerry’s 92 proof navy spiced rum.  I’m not a huge fan of the R-and-C’s, too sweet and alcoholy, but Sailor Jerry is delicious.

“Sailor Jerry” was this old-americana tattoo artist named norman collins who primarily worked in hawaii, and pioneered the kinds of images, needles, and color pigments used in the industry today. he used hospital-sterilization techniques, and single-use needles to ensure the health and safety of the tattooee and himself, while not compromising on the art or detail in his art. his work has a strong nautical theme, but come to think of it, it may be his work that is considered or viewed as “nautical” when we think of the word today, it’s almost a which came first, nautically-themed clothing, like this 2007 D&G men’s line, or Sailor Jerry’s tattoos. He had a long history as an actual sailor in the navy, and with his tattoo work, was a staunch advocate for professionalism and craft. While he regarded tattoos as “the ultimate rebellion against “the Squares”, he also heavily criticized “flashy” tattoo artists like another American tattoo godfather, Lyle Tuttle, for “hippie tattoo culture”.  Sailor Jerry -> serious badass all-around that, without waxing the cheesy memorial day patriotic speak, is a major influence in a considerable part of real american culture. tattoos, drinking, rum, the navy, converse chucks – he’s in there.

Fast forward to about a year later, when my friend, another SL, said she wanted to spend memorial weekend in Philadelphia, I checked out from the local library and came across a listing for a Sailor Jerry’s store in center city Philadelphia. Looking on their website, all the clothes are made right in philadelphia, and the rum is distilled in the Virgin Islands.  there’s some particularly cute items, i particularly covet the Swallow Sailor Hoodie, the Rocked Peacoat, and the Tiger Babydoll Dress. these are the items i imagine myself wearing when i’m a rocker bartender in the city. but there’s also his Flash Tattoo Books, Hold Fast Baby Onesie, and Sailor Jerry Zippo Lighter. omg, can’t wait to go and possibly buy some of it.   consumerism is just as american.


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