If you love guns, have a bit of disposable income, and need pants, a bind: Whose hot new conservative clothing line best represents your interests — gun manufacturer Remington or outrage manufacturer Glenn Beck? Allow us to point out some differences to help you make up your mind.
Remington's line came to our attention thanks to Reuters report on Monday detailing the efforts of "traditional brands" (old companies) to become "lifestyle brands" (companies that sell more things). Remington is selling sweaters, "bottoms" (pants), shoes, you name it. Reuters has a favorite:
Perhaps the most eye-catching part of the collection is the "Double Derringer Leather Vest" with two "zippered ambidextrous concealed weapons pockets."
Not sure how that works? No problem. The catalog features a picture of a grim-looking male model, eyes cast to the ground, drawing a blued-steel semiautomatic pistol from one of the secret pockets.
This vest costs $300.
Both companies, for differing reasons, are named after years. Remington's line is called 1816, after the year of the company's founding. Beck's is 1791 Supply and Co., for a reason that isn't immediately obvious from the website but probably relates to that year's passage of the Bill of Rights. Which century offers better inspiration for brand-extension fashion? Answer these questions, and we'll tell you which to pick.
Are you fancy?
While Reuters is too polite to point it out, it's clear that Remington isn't just trying to sell more products. It's trying to sell more expensive products. 1816's stuff is fancy. It offers, in addition to "sweaters" and "bottoms," categories like "bags" and "belts" — not the sort of thing that you associate with the rugged dude marketplace.
Like this thing. That's the "1816 Gunman's Bag," with a "soft glove leather body" and "bridle leather trim." It is ostensibly meant to carry your guns around, but it can also carry wallets and your iPad and other things. Tissues, Excedrin. The sort of things you'd find in other bags carried by other different sorts of people.
That bag is only $70. But who's going to pay $430 for a Remington-branded laptop bag? Or $150 for this "travel kit" (it is a toiletries bag). The answer is simple: people who have a lot of disposable income but who want to be associated with a company that makes guns. The laptop bag doesn't even pretend that it is also for carrying guns; it is for carrying your dork computer to your desk job as you keep an eye on how your stubble is coming along in the rear view mirror.
Beck's clothes are unabashedly and perhaps unintentionally low-brow. Yes, the jeans ("bottoms") are still pricey — $130 for this "classic-leg fit" pair — but the rest of what the company sells is mostly T-shirts. There is an accessories section, but it doesn't sell purses. It sells fake Purple Hearts.
Your pick: Remington.
Are you a woman?
Only Beck has a women's section. It consists only of T-shirts like this one. ("Fleeces and Sweatshirts" are "currently not available.")
Your pick: Beck.
Do you dislike 'political correctness,' as it relates to Native Americans?
If you are a big Washington Redskins or Cleveland Indians fan, perhaps you'll enjoy Beck's contribution to the current debate, a shirt that has a picture of a Native American under which is written "Exceptional Goods" — clearly a compliment. The image is described as "Distressed Indian Chief."
We never studied history, so we'll assume that the colonists that signed the Bill of Rights in 1791 were adamant about their application to the native populations that preceded Europeans' arrival in the New World. Remington's products were almost certainly historically used in the context of Native Americans, but they've declined to celebrate that in their brand extension.
Your pick: Beck.
Do you like guns?
As the image at the top of this post makes clear, Remington is all for using its products for the transport and enjoyment of guns. But Beck holds his own here, having produced earlier this year a "1791 Stands with the NRA" limited edition T-shirt. It was introduced about a week before the Senate once-and-for-all rejected any compromise on background checks at gun sales. 1791 also makes a shirt that reads "The Gun Debate: Settled Since 1791," in case you didn't "get it."
Your pick: Either.
Do you respect the life and work of Frederick Douglass?
Here's a poster the Beck site offers. It reads, "With charity for all" and is called "1791 With Charity For All Poster."
In 1791, Frederick Douglass hadn't yet been born, so he wasn't then a slave. But then, he also didn't at that point celebrate the Bill of Rights that he enjoyed, with some restrictions, once he became a free man nearly half a century later. The poster costs $35, which could have bought a lot more than a piece of paper when Douglass was freed in 1838.
Your pick: Amazon.com.