Ryan Chartrand

In early 2004, an advertising executive with a great salary threw out his briefcase and left the office. He had a vision and passion that could no longer be satisfied through writing for high-profile television commercials. He was not headed for a more prestigious firm or a higher paycheck; he was headed for T-shirts, hats and jackets. make that very political T-shirts, hats and jackets.

Now, the one time ad writer Cory Danziger, and his graphic design partner Robbie Conal, are about to release their fifth collection of critical, controversial and antiwar garments under their brand name Lefty’s.

Conal, former designer for Von Dutch, designed all of the clothing for the previous four collections all on his own. Lefty’s has become more well-known with each passing year and each outrageous design.

“My main dream with this is for people to see they can use their own medium, and utilize their own creativity to get their political views across,” Danziger said.

The most popular and controversial design from the previous collections is a T-shirt that depicts President Bush in unmistakable Kiss makeup with the title “Diss, Destroyer.”

“Our main backlash and main support has come from heavy metal bands. Some people absolutely loved the Kiss parody and others were upset that Kiss was defamed or shown with Bush,” Danziger said.

Other designs include a play on words with the Bush administration as The Dimwits, instead of the band The Misfits, and a portrait of Bush with the subtitle “Diablo.”

The up-and-coming company based out of downtown Los Angeles does not have a store of its own, but can be found in over 100 retail stores and high-end boutiques. However, they are yet to be picked up by a franchise. Lefty’s has currently sold over 10,500 shirts with prices ranging from $25 to $45.

“We have a policy here at Lefty’s; if you like a shirt and you can’t afford it, we will give it to you. We just want people to express themselves,” Danziger said.

That policy is something Lefty’s boasts, and it shows they really want to connect with their customers.

Lefty’s creates a unique experience from all possible angles, the clothing, the message and its promoters. Rarely are clothes this upfront and designers so dedicated that profit is not the first priority.

In their fifth collection, original designer Conal collaborates with new Lefty’s political artists Emek, Brandy Flower, John Carr and Mark the Beast.

These garments are broader in context, more thought-provoking and have brighter, spunkier colors. One particular design by new artist Emek features the three monkeys, Hear-No-Evil, See-No-Evil and Speak-No-Evil, wearing Statue of Liberty crowns.

Another liberal message – steering a little away from the Bush administration – is the word “disillusionment” amid a collage of various corporate brand names like Shell, Texaco and the word cocaine in Coca-Cola font.

“I just want to tickle people on the streets – in the clubs, in schools – into thinking along with me about social and political issues,” Conal said.

Danziger said that he hopes they will be able to explore other creative situations and become less political once the U.S. gets better leadership and changes the political climate.

“Robbie (Conal) and I want to go in a positive direction, I hope five years from now we have ‘the world is great’ mentality,” Danziger said.

A variety of their clothes spanning multiple collections, including the fifth, is available for viewing at www.theoriginalleftys.com.

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