by Elizabeth Weiss
Foghat, King Crimson, Procol Harum, Edgar Winters White Trash, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.
In the 1960s and 70s, these bands and plenty of others played at a rock ‘n’ roll venue near Ohio State University in Columbus. The venue, called the Agora, was adjacent to a store run by two college students, now husband and wife, Chuck and Nina Harris. “We were looking for a way to make money without wearing a tie,” Chuck says. “We had a little bit of experience [making clothes] but the rest was self-taught. The business took off from there.”
During their sound checks at the Agora, the bands always found their way into Chuck and Nina’s open door. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. “We specialized in custom order clothing. You could come in on Monday and wave your hands around with ideas,” Chuck explains, “and walk out with your order on Friday.”
Chuck and Nina, from Mount Victory, Ohio, now own Ravenworks Deerskin. They make supple, strong, hand-tanned handbags and accessories, but back in the era of short skirts and flower power, they made clothes for rock stars. “The musicians were interested in flipped-out things, the clothes that got them noticed,” Chuck says. The Harris’ completed an order requesting a dark waistcoat and bellbottom combo stitched with silver threads–in black light everything but the threads would disappear. Vince Vance and the Valiants wanted a white leather suit with rhinestone studs for the lead singer who floated down to the stage during their cover of Earth Angel. “I don’t recommend it for everyone,” Chuck laughs, talking about the free times of the 60s and 70s, “but it worked for us!”
The Harris’ played this gig in Columbus for about five years then moved to another university town, Bowling Green, Ohio, and did it all over again. “We made hats for the urban cowboy folks,” Chuck says, naming NASCAR king Richard Petty, Atlanta Falcons players, and the urban cowboy himself, John Travolta, as customers. “The cooler the hat was the cooler you were and we could make that happen for you.”
Get a glimpse of what Chuck and Nina used to make when they introduce new items this spring, including leather jackets for men and women (you won’t want to miss these little beauties). Whether or not you’ve been signed by a music label or boast a Hollywood pad, Chuck and Nina stress that, “We try to make our current customers feel like stars.”