Zesty Tropical Wear at Throwbacks Northwest
photo by Beth Crook
In a snug Capitol Hill space with nooks and stairs and bright windows, Throwbacks Northwest has neatly stacked the tall white walls to the ceiling. They've got weed- oriented novelties; clunky metal boom boxes; stacks of cassettes you'd forgotten you used to own, like The Best of Bill Cosby and Bell Biv Devoe's Poison; and tons of vintage sportswear and hiphop apparel. This includes a good selection of men's acid-washed jeans ($30–$50), a wildly luxurious collectible snapback hat embellished with real snakeskin ($700), women's high-waist jean shorts ($20–$50), and a black T-shirt depicting the Tasmanian Devil posed intimidatingly beneath a mass of silvery-purple lightning bolts—these represent the condition of his soul ($25). "I distressed them myself with a sander. It took all day, and at the end of it, I blew my nose and all these bits of denim came out," says owner Mark Musgrave.
There's also a portable sidewalk rack of men's 1960s to 1990s era Hawaiian shirts ($10). The customers just can't get enough of them, Mark says, what with their sizzling shades and boxy cuts, and the frantic prints of neon palm fronds, or swaying pineapples, or vaguely apocalyptic pink-skied landscapes, or cockatoos holding tiny ukuleles, or islands full of mystery. Or, heck—you name it! Don't be afraid to overdo it. No matter the setting, wearing garments patterned with so much jungle foliage brings the sensation of being, well, not exactly outdoors, but maybe at a fantasy cocktail lounge—the kind with lipstick-stained coconut-shell cocktail cups, glazed blowfish lanterns, and sweet-and-sour pork skewers served aflame, where the dust and adventure and cocaine residue await you in every corner.
Hawaiian shirts have been around since the '30s, but they've drifted in and out of popularity, with the last boom occurring in the mid-'80s. Valued celebrities wore them like crazy, including Tom Selleck and Sammy Hagar and Chunk from The Goonies, but Al Pacino's troubled Tony Montana Scarface character did it best. His featured a zesty tropical palette, brightening the catastrophe scene with its maraschino-cherry reds and cigarette-ember oranges, and there were geometric tigers and weird yellow clusters of stripes and plants. Completing the look, he wore khakis spotted in fresh blood and styled his hair into a moist pile.
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