Based in Joshua Tree, Totally Blown is a clothing company that distresses objects with shotguns to create beautiful and complex clothing that blurs the boundaries between contemporary art and fashion. I conducted an interview with Totally Blown’s founder to showcase their brand in partnership with Stay Wild magazine.
Totally Blown co-creator Cody Montgomery knows how to throw a party. We’re not talking some highfalutin affair, just a warm warehouse living room full of local legends taking turns playing their newest material while the disco ball turns slowly above the entryway and foxes screech out in the cold desert night.
In Joshua Tree, strangers aren’t in a hurry and new friendships can be forged in an instant. There’s also way more cross-pollination between musicians, visual artists, craftspeople, writers, and designers than in the big bustling city.
Out here in the open space, ideas have room to breathe.
So it’s no surprise that Totally Blown came about organically as well. What started as one mouse-eaten garment that looked pretty rad in all its unplanned quirk developed into a full fashion line of shotgun-punctured and hand-dyed vintage pieces like witchy, ankle-dusting robes and loose, easy tops.
How is Totally Blown related to Joshua Tree’s music and art scene?
Joshua Tree is the definition of a tight-knit-crew and has a super amazing music and art scene for being such a small place. We host our fair share of events at our studio, and for a while hosted a weekly music jam called Psychedelic Sundays. The people here tend to be totally genuine sweethearts that are unpretentious, incredibly talented, fearless, over city drama, and available to hang out. That influences Totally Blown by giving us a wonderful community of like-minded and supportive friends that we are hugely grateful for. Wide open spaces is what allows Totally Blown to exist.
What’s the workshop like?
The indoor workshop is pretty chill. We have a big open studio in the heart of Joshua Tree that is nice and quiet and full of light. The outdoor “studio” is the BLM shooting range where we actually shoot the clothing. That is way more of a wild place. It’s on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management so anyone can go there and it tends to be a weird mix of off-roaders, weekend warriors, and marines. It can be super relaxed with no one around for miles or pretty scary depending on the how many guns are strapped to your neighboring marine.
Did you have other ideas, before shotguns, to replicate the mouse-chewed look?
Of course bait and more mice was the obvious first solution, but also a gross one. I guess I just let the wheels turn in the old brain-o-rator until something clicked … literally the trigger of the shotgun.
What do you think about when you’re shooting the clothes? Is it meditative? Cathartic? Playful?
One of the things I love the most about the process is the element of chaos. Like no two pieces ever turn out the same, so there’s always an element of surprise. Also a huge part of the process is letting go. Like not being attached to material things. At some point you just have to be like fuck it, whatever happens happens — and pull the trigger.
It’s a lot about letting go of control and perfection and embracing chaos. It’s a very meditative and cathartic process but it’s also a fucking battle. Like I’ve designed this scheme where every week I’m up against a new army of clothing. The inner warrior definitely comes out and it’s also great way to blow off some steam.
Are there particular albums, movies, or designers that inspire your work?
If I had to pick something, I would say Totally Blown aligns most closely with the Japanese artistic theory of wabi-sabi. Essentially finding perfection in the imperfect. It’s all about letting go of control, appreciating how objects evolve and change over time, and creating items that are reflective of the complexities of reality.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I guess my style is that of an artist. You know, like when you see someone and you can just tell they’re a creative person because they have their own thing going on. I like to wear lots of different styles in general and have been influenced heavily by my travels overseas. I don’t wear or manufacture any synthetics, so that rules out a lot of the ‘80s-esque, bright, ridiculous stuff. The real distinctive and congruous element is of course holes in everything. So in essence, holy world traveling artist.
How do you want someone to feel when they’re wearing one of your pieces?
When someone else is wearing Totally Blown I want them to feel comfortable, empowered, creative, and unique. Like if someone asked them about the clothing, they’d have an interesting story to tell. And they know that they’re piece is one of a kind, just like them. A lot of times people put on Totally Blown and get super energized and start dancing. That’s always the highest compliment because busting loose ain’t always easy these days.