Portraits by Bob Kronbauer
Part of what makes T-shirt brand Brknhome stand out from the streetwear herd goes back to the different life paths of the founders of the brand.
In 1998, Kenta Goto was standing on top of a skyscraper in Tokyo, building the thing. At the same time, Joshua Pong was in Scarborough, Canada throwing up graffiti on trains and running with Scam, one of Toronto’s graf kings. A few years later the construction worker and the graf artist known as Specs crossed paths at a graf expo in Toronto, and the two clicked right away.
But it wasn’t until years later, when Goto ran into Pong again at a skateshop in Vancouver, that they decided to do something together. “I had this idea for a brand and a name,” Goto says, “and when Josh came into the picture I knew we could produce something fresh. I ran Brknhome by him, and he was down right away. It was kinda cool that we had that kind of respect for each other when we really didn’t know each other that well yet. The name Brknhome signifies that we, as a company, don’t have any authority or upper management to answer to.”
Brknhome’s first line of T-shirts dropped in ’02, and their fan base has already stretched all across North America. Now, with distribution in Japan and Hong Kong, they are looking to broaden their horizons. Each new season’s collection of bold graphics and slogans embodies different themes, contingent upon what the two are feeling at the time. “We usually have the same taste in things, but at times one of us will take it too far on a subject or idea, and the other will bring it down to earth.” Fans who proudly don Brknhome shirts share the duos love for their influences. In their designs they’ve paid homage to cult films like Battle Royale. The same collection includes a shirt with CNN news clips from a sniper incident with the word SUSPECT across the chest. Another tee bears the slogan “feed you lobster, cuz I’m a true mobster,” complete with a switchblade stabbed in for extra cred. To start the new Fall/Winter ’06 line, a classic barber pole with “Shit, Shower, & Shave” is smartly decorated with their balaclava logo in razorblades.
“Sometimes I’ll be the one wil’in’ out and other times its Josh,” says Goto “but when one is going buck wild, the other stays grounded.”
“Yeah, it’s like this,” says Pong, “Kenta’s left handed, I’m right handed. He drives me around, I don’t know how to drive. It’s perfect.”