Norbert T-Shirt

With the variety of printed T-shirts — which could arguably be America’s favorite garment — that are available in the marketplace today, a certain courage is needed to launch a new label, but that is what one Pacific man has done.

Norbert Gildehaus recently launched a new original graphic T-shirt line, Chopper Squad.

A local heating and air-conditioning contractor and avowed motorcycle aficionado, Gildehaus said once the idea hit him, he felt compelled to try something completely new.

The company and its design are a direct outcrop of America’s love of informal street fashion, he said.

Part business savvy, part whimsy, design of the new graphic garments combine the popularity of the motorcycle with the enduring draw of old American gangsters glorified in the movies.

“I’m a motorcycle enthusiast and a fan of old gangster movies,” Gildehaus said. “In the 1920s and 1930s, when a speakeasy started selling beer from a rival bootlegger and guys like Al Capone sent in a bunch of goons to shoot up the place, they called it the chopper squad.”

Items already available in the new line include short sleeve T-shirts, sleeveless T-shirts and tank tops. Half a dozen versions of the logo have already been designed.

After spending several months refining the idea to go into the graphic T-shirt business, Gildehaus was ready to show his wares.

“I hired a couple of artists to design the shirts,” he said. “It didn’t take real long to put it together.”

Patrons of the recent Action Riders motorcycle show at the Pacific Eagles were the first to see, and buy, the new garments.

Chopper Squad also set up a tent at the June 28 Pacific Partnership car show for a second showing.

“Some people want to make a statement with what they wear,” Gildehaus said. “And you have to admit it’s fun.”

The brand has the potential to grow into sweatshirts, hats, backpacks and other items that express people’s personalities, the new clothing designer said.

The company is in the process of developing a website and plans to offer Chopper Squad garments online.