I had the opportunity to interview Michael Satterfield, the founder and designer over at Morgan’s and Phillip’s which is a vintage clothing company that sells a wide range of unique stylized automotive clothing and accessories.
Brent: Tell everyone a little about yourself?
Michael: I was born and raised in Southern, California, where I still live with my amazing wife Helen. I have almost always had a car related job, I am a photographer, Eagle Scout, a Master Mason, and I love to travel. I spend at least one week every year in Nicaragua working with a mission, building infrastructure projects. I have had the chance to drive in (or across) Europe, Asia, Central America, and have been all over the US by car. I tend to be a little different than most people, I prefer to go and see stuff instead of just watching it on YouTube.
I also run my own car blog called The Gentleman Racer where I post automotive things that interest me.
Brent: How did you get your passion with cars?
Michael: I grew up around it, my father had worked in the automotive aftermarket as a designer and marketing guy, so I had been to Laguna Seca while in utero , and when I was young I remember my dad coming home with SEMA vehicles, and spending time watching him draw cars and design products.
Brent: What was your first car?
Michael: The first car I bought when I was 14 years old, a 1954 Ford Crestline 4 door, with factory power windows. I grew up in what was once a agricultural preserve, and there was a farm down the street that had all kinds of old cars parked around. I would ride by on my bike and check them out and one day the old man that lived there said I could come in and look at them. So I did, I think he liked the fact that I knew something about them. So I asked him if he would sell me the 54 Ford. He said I could have it for $150.00 so I road home and dumped my lawn mowing money out of the big tall crayon bank I had. Talked my dad into helping me tow it back with the farm truck and the rest is history.
Brent: What personal vehicles do you own? any Ford related ones?
The Mini is my Daily Driver, just drove it all the way up to El Mirage for the land speed races just to watch. It was also a ton of fun driving on the lake bed.
Currently I have a 1969 Austin Mini Cooper, to be honest it is the only car I have never gotten tired of. It makes you smile every time you drive it and I have installed all the go fast goodies on it. I have always had a soft spot for British and Italian cars, I think because everyone had a Mustang or Camaro here in the US, so I had to have a MGB-GT or a Fiat 124.
Over the years I have had over 60 cars from Ford Mustang Fastbacks to a Lancia Zagato. I am also building a '62 Austin Healey Sprite that has a vintage fiberglass frontend, the car was raced back in the 60’s before being left to rot at a rural airport here in So Cal. I picked it up about a year ago and have been restoring it with only original parts from the 60’s to keep that classic vintage race car look as authentic as possible. I also have a few projects waiting in the wings. We also have a shop truck a 1975 Ford F-250 that we redesigned to look like a modern King Ranch.
I do have the obligatory modern cars… but those are boring.
Brent: What are some of your most favorite Ford related vehicles of all time?
Michael: The best by far and one that is on my list is a Daytona Coupe, it just has that balance of brute masculinity and poise that so many cars lack today. I also love the 65 Mustang Convertible it is just the best all around cruiser, the Ford car I miss the most is the 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 two door fastback that I had in High-School, the car was amazing, 390 Big Block, Power Discs, and Southern California country roads with my friends.
Brent: How did you develop the idea of starting your own vintage clothing line?
Michael: It was honestly kind of by accident, my mom had started a western clothing business a few years back and was a distributor for (mostly) womens apparel and accessories, so I designed a few shirts for her line and they did well. I then thought… well I like cars I should start a site to sell automotive apparel. There was a lot of apparel out there already, but much of it was the standard “car show” shirt, a thick, square, scratchy shirt with a cartoon car on the back and the event name on the front, or there was the other extreme with a few designer labels that had produced some cool automotive inspired shirts.
I found the designers were just slapping words “Supercharged” “Racing” “Motorcycle” and mostly made up brands and logos on their shirts, and they wanted $60 bucks for them. So I wanted to create a line of apparel that was based in reality, offered great quality, and was priced in the middle, because most real car guys look at $60 tee shirt and think “that’s a shift kit”. We also wanted to create apparel for women, that was designed for women, not just a mens shirt in small. We started out making stuff in 2007. All of our tees are printed by our own staff, using organic inks, here in California on imported tees we have made for us, we don’t just design the shirts and farm it out, one of our staff members touches every shirt before it ships.
Brent: Where do you get inspiration for your vintage clothing designs?
Michael: Well a lot of it comes from the cars, places, people, and events in my life and my family’s life. I live just off of Route 66, and I am surrounded by ghost tracks within a few miles from our studio. Riverside International Raceway, Fontana Drag City, Ontario Motor Speedway, the original Irwindale Raceway, Ramona Drag Strip, there is so much car culture here in So Cal. My dad used to race flat track motorcycles, and growing up with a driveway that is populated with Mach 1 Mustangs does not hurt. I have a extensive collection of vintage apparel as well, it’s nice to compare and improve upon the originals. I also draw inspiration from historical photos and a number of books I have on automotive history. I think something that sets us apart from many of the other brands, is that we are not just a fashion company making apparel, we are all car guys (& girls), everyone in the office works on cars, goes to the races, and has a real true love for all things on wheels.
As far as expansion, we are growing fast, it has been crazy since we launched the Shelby line in 2010, we quickly became one of the largest suppliers to the Shelby Museum store and have dealers around the world. But unlike many brands that are just riding the trend of retro motorsports that is currently in right now. Once they move on, we will still be making our unique line up of retro automotive and motorcycle inspired apparel. This is one reason why you won’t find M&P Speed Apparel™ in national chains, bulk retailers, or discount stores. Our products is meant to be special. Our company prides itself on quality and only working with retailers we know will represent the brand and understand the heritage behind each design. Each shirt has a story behind it, and we prefer that people discover our brand in a cool boutique, instead of just tossing it in the cart with the 5lb tub of mayonnaise at the club store because it was on clearance.
We also work with a great cause called Drive Away Cancer and we designed a special shirt that we sell on the site with the profits going towards supporting the cause. Working with worthy causes is a big part of our company, and it is very important to us.
Brent: I understand you were greatly influenced by your Father and Grandfather, what aspect of the automotive world were they involved with?
Michael: Well my family came to California back when you had to cross the desert in your Model T on a road made of rail road ties. My Great Grandfather was stationed in San Diego during WWII before shipping out to fight in the pacific. The stories that he told me about the war and the machines he used and saw have inspired some of the new 2012 collection. But back to the automotive stuff, my father grew up in the “On any Sunday” generation, and not living far from Riverside International Raceway he would often bike down to watch races, movie shoots, and testing. My father started off doing technical drawings for Hooker Headers, and went on to work for some of the leading aftermarket companies as designer. He still designs products for the Mustang industry as director of TMI Upholstery. My mom’s father owns a machine shop so I kind of just grew up around all things mechanical.
Brent: I see you have connections with Carroll Shelby and George Barris via your clothing line, what has that been like?
Michael: Carroll Shelby was always kind to me, I had met him a few times over the years mostly at events like the Legends of Riverside or SEMA, he was not spending much time in the office when we launched our new line up of Shelby apparel. I was always a big fan of Shelby and we are all honored to help carry on the legacy of Shelby, even if it is just in a small way. George Barris is a hoot and still so active, he often is seen in our reproduction of the original Barris Kustom City shop shirt. We worked from old photos to reproduce the shirt, that even has the original location of Lynwood on it, just like it did back in the 50’s.
Brent: Where does the name "Morgan's and Phillip's" come from?
Michael: It’s a combination of my little sisters and my middle names. Her middle name is Morgan and it’s first just because it sounded better, she does most of our fashion photography, and some of our one offs for clients. The original concept for M&P Speed Apparel™ was quite different, it was going to be exclusively focused on vintage European road racing. But as we developed it we just kind of saw a void, the Ferrari, Lambo, and other exotic companies already had lots of product out there, plus I really liked the idea of working with American places, racers, and events.
Morgan’s and Phillip’s and Joe Farace