There are the respective visions of Molly de Vries with Ambatalia and Gayle Nicoletti’s Bloomingayles, Heather Hardcastle’s personal path to creating Flour Craft Bakery, a retail renaissance for Serena Armstrong’s FarmHouseUrban, Suzy Ekman’s Makers Market and Amy Lowery’s The Edit. Chelsea Hutchinson’s BOL and Watershed Restaurant from Ged Robertson and Kyle Swain are on the way.
We can add yet another great story to the mix.
This one’s a globe-spanning doozy, as Paige Mycoskie’s 70s-inspired California lifestyle apparel brand Aviator Nation settles in at MVLY. Mycoskie, the Arlington, Texas native who competed in CBS’ The Amazing Race in 2002 with her brother Blake Mycoskie, founder and “chief shoe giver” of Toms Shoes, launched the brand out of her Venice Beach, Calif., garage in 2006.
In doing so, she drew inspiration from counterculture happenings like Woodstock and the legions of music and art festivals that spawned in the decades that followed it. While working at a surf shop in Southern California, Mycoskie had bought a sewing machine and spent nights after work teaching herself to sew, determined to create garments with the same look and feel of the vintage pieces she had been collecting for years.
With her own take on rainbow stripes at the brand’s core, Mycoskie sold her first Aviator Nation piece at a local street fair in 2007 and it caught on quickly. From distressed hoodies and sweatpants to jackets and even surfboards, Mycoskie has continued to expand the selection of products while maintaining her design motif. She opened her first store in 2009 on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, regularly hosting free concerts at the shop.
Aviator Nation is deeply involved in some of the biggest music festivals in the country, including Austin City Limits, for which the brand designs fest-specific Aviator Nation t-shirts and creates a branded tipi that serves as an artist lounge.
Fast forward a decade, and Aviator Nation has ramped up its store openings, going from two in its first five years to at least one every year since, with Mill Valley and Austin, Texas, locations opening in 2018.
“Every store is an individual, one of one buildout,” says Zephanya “Zeph” Judah, the Mill Valley store manager who started with Aviator Nation as a part-time sales associated five years ago and is now spearheading the opening of some of the new shops.
“Because of the sheer number of impactful musicians and artists who have lived in Mill Valley and Marin in the past, with many of them still living here, music and the arts are a huge part of the design of the store.
That fact is apparent the moment you walk in the door, from the huge, album cover-lined wall behind a drum kit and on top of a “Stayin’ Alive”-style multi-colored dance floor to the rock star’s green room vibe of the retail space.
That boundless energy continues with Dustin Wallace, a lifelong Mill Valley resident and Tam High grad who runs the shop day-to-day. Judah and Wallace plan to host a wide range of events in the space, from yoga demos to music events and more.
“We’re trying to create a cool space for people to gather,” Judah says.
Here’s Aviator Nation founder Paige Mycoskie talking about the brand as it readied its store in Austin, Texas in 2018: