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In Marketplace

Dirty Earth owner Scott Starr (left) and Rev Pop design intern Pete Driscoll.

In Marketplace

You'll find simple, soft plain T-shirts, vests, dresses and accessories from Alternative Apparel.

Bay View's new Dirty Earth is a pretty place to shop

Scott Starr might be best known in Milwaukee as the charismatic frontman for local band Fever Marlene, but, as it turns out, his talents extend far beyond the walls of the recording studio.

Since 2006 he's been the creative force behind Rev Pop, a multimedia design firm that has worked with companies as far reaching as Tanqueray and BMW and as hometown and familiar as the Diablos Rojos restaurant group.

This past October, Starr took his company to the next dimension: retail. At 2534 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View sits Dirty Earth, a physical manifestation of literally all of Starr's artistic outlets. Part design studio, part music studio and (largest) part boutique, it can be hard to decipher exactly what Dirty Earth is. We think Starr puts it best when he calls his enterprise, "A design firm with a store."

And that's exactly what it looks like. From top to bottom, the small shop is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Bright colors make it feel modern and warm, while little extras -- like Starr's personal collection of books and photographs -- give it more of a seasoned rather than pristine feel.

While the attire is certainly fashionable, it's not over-the-top high fashion with price tags to match. It's nothing if not accessible.

"I like simple stuff," he says, adding that most of what he sells is meant not to stand on its own, but instead as complement pieces that contribute to a whole look. You'll find simple, soft plain T-shirts, vests, dresses and accessories from Alternative Apparel. Everything is priced between $30 and $80.

Starr's designs grace the fronts of many of the shirts he sells, but the key thing to remember at this store is that you gotta get while the getting's good. All of his screenprinted designs are limited runs. Sometimes he'll print 30 of the same shirt; sometimes only three. And once they're gone, they're gone for good and it's on to the next one.

"You go to Urban Outfitters and they've got a pile of graphic tees for $30. The problem is, everyone else around town is going to be wearing the same shirts. Our goal was to always keep runs limited."

And what takes the unique factor a step further is what Starr refers to as "the dirty earth element." No two graphics are printed exactly alike. Some have distress marks, some are crisp, some are missing small parts of the design.

But don't worry, the little imperfections are a part of the plan.

Dirty Earth is open Monday through Saturday.


fivefoottwo | Nov. 2, 2009 at 7:42 p.m. (report)

How is a thirty dollar t-shirt affordable?

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