MilkBoy T-shirts are as old as MilkBoy The Studio.
But a 1990s rough-and-tumble T to promote the goings-on at a local recording studio is an entirely different fashion game than a 52-piece apparel collection that includes scoop and V-neck tops that MilkBoy launched earlier this fall.
“The MilkBoy Merch is an extension of our restaurant and our music business," said Jamie Lokoff, co-owner of the MilkBoy recording studio and pub, wearing a gray MilkBoy T-shirt and a striped scarf for a very rocker-meets-Queer Eye vibe.
We are at MilkBoy The Studio in Northern Liberties and more than a dozen gold albums recorded there — including Usher’s 2010 ″Raymond v. Raymond," Miley Cyrus’ 2013 “Bangerz,” and James Taylor’s 2015 “Before this World” — line the walls.
It’s easy to get distracted. But Lokoff won’t let me; he’s here to talk about style.
MilkBoy’s T-shirt designs are simple. Most feature the word “MilkBoy” in a variety of script and block lettering. There are a few with the iconic, chubby-faced MilkBoy in his sailor outfit holding a glass of milk (one featuring him dressed as various celebrities including Prince, Gene Simmons, Frank Sinatra or David Bowie).
Another includes MilkBoy lettering in Philadelphia gay pride colors. And another features a screen-printed image of a rad ice box because, where else does one keep the milk?
But the T-shirts are just a part of the merch. Also available online are MilkBoy totes, socks, knit caps, and baby onesies. The prices are reasonable, ranging from $20 for a T to $50 for a zip-up hoodie, so they’ll make great stocking stuffers for your Philly-centric friend.
Lokoff and Tommy Joyner opened MilkBoy Studios on top of the famous Zapf’s Music Store in North Philly in 1994. The studio built a name for itself with hard rock and hip-hop, recording hits from groups like Digable Planets, The Roots, Muisq Soulchild, and Jill Scott. In 2001, MilkBoy moved to Ardmore. But by 2006, improved home-recording technology was threatening to hurt the company’s business. (Why pay for studio time when you can mix a pretty good CD on your home computer?)
So, Lokoff and Joyner decided to open a coffee shop.
“We really became the hangout spot,” Lokoff said. “We were the forerunners of boutique coffee spaces.” (MilkBoy coffee mugs from the coffee shop era also are available at the online boutique.)
In 2011, Lokoff and Joyner closed the Ardmore location and opened a bar and restaurant on Chestnut Street under the same name. It’s now an early-morning watering hole for nearby doctors who work the night shift and the home of the best tater tots in town. But it’s also where Green Bay Packers fans convene during football season to watch games — so Lokoff started to print green-and-yellow MilkBoy shirts.
The South Street location opened in 2016, what eventually became the home for Baltimore Ravens fans, hence purple-and-yellow MilkBoy Ts. In 2017, they opened a location at the University of Maryland at College Park called MilkBoy ArtHouse. There Eagles fans convened and out came the came the green-and-gray shirts.
Lokoff decided this year to launch the online store so all the merch was available in one place.
“Fashion ties everything we do together," Lokoff said.