Clothes Captioned: Actual Pain

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A Seattle brand aims to make you afraid. Very afraid.

“I think Quothorn from Bathory is one of the coolest-looking dudes ever,” says T.J. Cowgill when I ask him about his style icons. “Gaahl from Gorgoroth, too. And the Manson Family, the clothes that they wore and their whole look was pretty awesome. I mean, they wore vests made from human hair.”

Though you won’t find any crewnecks made from discarded ho weave in the latest Actual Pain collection, Cowgill’s three-year-old company is definitely giving wussies a run for their money, if not their lives. The brand’s heavy-metal fonts, upside-down crosses and peace signs, and straight-up sacrilege throw blood in the face of the kinder, beige-er streetwear nation. “I really want to convey a feeling of gangs-meets-cults in everything I do,” says Cowgill from his home office in rainy Seattle, Washington. “I love the look of gang culture, especially the more obscure ’60s and ’70s gangs. I like anything we do that has a look to it like, ‘That is what really mentally fucked-up people would wear,’ or stuff that invokes the primal fear inside your stomach, maybe something slightly fascist- or Satanic-looking but still very clean. I am probably only using three colors in what I do from now on.”

Cowgill, who was raised on “religious born-again music,” has a lot of interesting things up his sleeve, not to mention a stuffed chicken, a fondness for Mexican food, and a dog named Pagan. He’s also planning to expand Actual Pain into the realms of cut ‘n’ sew, full collections, women’s wear, and outwear, with the help of his lovely wife Emily. But before we give away all his secrets, why not read what he has to say about a few pieces from the fall collection?

6 Eyes t-shirt ($40)
The six-eyed wolf of the Christian Church, guiding the blind towards their true God below, Satan.


Deadbeat t-shirt ($40)
This shirt is modeled after a police academy-style sweatshirt. But, of course, it’s for deadbeats like us.


Decapitation sweatshirt ($64)
The famous cartoon mouse finally meets his true maker: Actual Pain!


Dusted Logo crewneck ($64)
Our logo, dusted… like us.


Return of the Rat crewneck ($64)
In tribute to one of the greatest punk bands of all the time, The Wipers.


No Class, No Values t-shirt ($40)
“No class, no values, I've got no one to look up to."


Goathead sweatshirt ($64)
The Christian goat head ready for the slaughter. The sacrificial lamb...