Von Dutch is more history than a brand. Kenneth Howard AKA Von Dutch was a legend and part of American culture known as the "GODFATHER OF MODERN DAY PINSTRIPING" and the "ORIGINATOR OF KUSTOM KULTURE”.
Kenneth Howard was born in 1929 as the son of a sign painter Los Angeles.
At the age of 15, Von Dutch started to work as a mechanic at George Beerup’s Motorcycle Shop. At that time pinstriping on cars and motorcycles was a dead art. While working at Beerup’s Shop, Von Dutch sometimes took a motorcycle home and pinstriped it just for the sake of art. Bringing the bikes back to Beerup’s, the shop owner was amazed at what Von Dutch created and while that may have ended his story as a mechanic, Von Dutch was now in painting and striping. Over the next decade Von Dutch developed his art form and built his reputation as the Godfather of Modern Day Pinstriping.
The money code that Von Dutch lived by was simply stated in a quote from a 1965 article and reads “I make a point of staying right at the edge of poverty. I don't have a pair of pants without a hole in them, and the only pair of boots I have are on my feet. I don't mess around with unnecessary stuff, so I don't need much money.“. That is not to say that he didn't make money, but with his work in such high demand, he did not want to detract from the integrity of his craft. Rather every piece he worked on, he wanted to be precise and an individual work of art with the integrity of his individual touch.
Then there was the famous “flyin’ eyeball" logo....! According to Von Dutch, the flying eyeball was a symbol meaning "the eye in the sky knows all and sees all." Dutch got a hold of this symbol and modified it into the flyin' eyeball still known today. There have been numerous "incarnations" of this design over the years and it still remains an icon of the '50s and '60s street rod crowd.
Another iconic and important piece of Von Dutch history is the Von Dutch Bus. Before Von Dutch owned this bus, it began as a Long Beach, California “City Bus” that was given to Dutch by a lady around 1960 as payment for some work. Von Dutch did not waste anytime setting up living quarters at the rear end of the bus and the front end was converted into a machine shop. From the stories told the floor of the bus was covered in beer cans and whatever was worked on over the last month or so. Today the Von Dutch bus is owned by Steve Kafka, who took the time to restore it, and saved a piece of Americana.
By the years, the stories of Von Dutch became a seemingly endless, but historic tale.