Network Under 40
Join Network Under 40 on June 21 at AJ’s Good Time Bar, country music star Alan Jackson’s restaurant and bar, located in the heart of downtown Nashville. With
A shared workspace brought filmmaker Ben Skipworth and clothing designer Ethan Summers together: Both entrepreneurs operate from a warehouse building known as “The Hill,” located near the Fairgrounds. Together, the two put together a passion piece-an inspiring video that tells the story behind Summers’ Oil + Lumber brand, a streetwear-influenced menswear collection that celebrates the designer’s Japanese-American heritage. The three-minute trailer, which tied in with the launch of the apparel line, is visually stunning and reflects themes of craftsmanship, legacy, and place.
For Summers, collaborating on the short with Skipworth’s company, Inkwell Films, was a no-brainer.
“They’ve worked on some amazing projects with some really cool companies,” he says. “They did one called Sneaker Broker that I’m a big fan of.”
Skipworth enjoyed directing a piece where the cinematography came first and the product came second; the film’s location was Summers’ home state of Utah.
“It was interesting doing something cold weather,” Skipworth says. “His whole brand kind of [centers on] mountain, land, and sea.”
An earthy color palette is a primary focus of Oil + Lumber’s limited-run, long-sleeve tee, for example. The Billiam jeans are built to last and rugged enough for indoor and outdoor adventures, and the two-way stretch Black Rock overshirt gets better with wear, forming to the body.
Summers’ grandfather emigrated from Japan during a time when many Japanese-Americans were being held in internment camps. He Americanized his children for safety reasons but also taught them the Japanese practice of shokunin, mastering one’s profession. Loosely defined as “craftsman” or “artisan,” the shokunin way marks Summers’ work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. His heritage is proudly displayed in the wool Happi coat, an Asian-influenced statement piece that looks equally stylish worn over a buttonup or a hoodie.
Although he has no formal training or background in design, Summers has always known what he likes.
“I wasn’t getting gratification out of my corporate insurance and investment job, so I decided to make the leap,” Summers says. “It took me a long time because I was building up the knowledge, networking, motions—everything in between to get to that point.”
As a kid, Summers learned to sew from his mom and modified his own clothes.
Oil + Lumber predominantly sources fabric from the United States, and everything from the cut-and-sew line is created in Nashville. Those pieces can be customized.
“We’re very excited that we can make it in-house,” Summers says. “I like that, because I can control the creativity.”
The spring and summer collection will include several short-sleeve shirt designs, new t-shirts and hats, and—potentially—a board-short option. In addition to Oil + Lumber, Summers operates Oil + Lumber Design, a custom furniture brand and product line. His work can be seen around town at Makeready Libations & Liberation, Burger Up, and Five Daughters Bakery. Summers plans to roll out a furniture line this spring that will include tables, chairs, stools, and end tables—a full collection.
Inkwell Films and Oil + Lumber hope to connect on future projects, too.
“A lot of his vibe is sunny weather and getting out in nature and enjoying yourself,” Skipworth says of Summers. “I’m really eager to pull something off with him that’s more focused on the warmer weather stuff. We can throw his island vibes some love.”
oilandlumber.com | inkwellfilms.com