How Von Dutch’s Kenny Howard Died

Von Dutch

Getty Von Dutch products featured in the Showtime Style 2006 Gift Bag.

Before “Von Dutch” was synonymous with trucker hats worn by celebrities like Paris Hilton, it was the nickname of acclaimed motorcycle mechanic and artist, Kenny Howard.

Known as “the Prince of Pinstriping,” Howard died in 1992 at the age of 63 from liver disease, according to the Los Angeles Times. The publication referred to him as “an apparent alcoholic” who once added a chute in his Kenford truck to dispose of beer cans.

Leading up to his death, he was “holed up in an old Long Beach city bus,” reported The Selvedge Yard. The publication revealed his nickname was a spin on being “stubborn as a Dutchman.”

According to Alchetron, “his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.” Howard left behind daughters Lisa and Lorna who sold the rights to the “Von Dutch” name to Michael Cassel and Robert “Bobby” Vaughn, the men credited for launching the popular apparel line.

Hulu Explores the Clothing Brand in the Documentary ‘The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For’

The sordid history of the clothing line is being explored in the new Hulu docuseries, “The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For.”

“‘The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For’ chronicles the unbelievable true story behind the rise and fall of the 2000s most iconic fashion trend,” according to the show’s synopsis. “In this epic character-driven saga, Venice Beach surfers, gangsters, European garmentos and Hollywood movers and shakers all vie for control of the infamous brand – pushing it from obscurity to one of the most recognizable labels on Earth. After a decade of backstabbing, greed and bloodshed, their lives – and pop culture – will never be the same.”

It is airing in three parts: “Who Created Von Dutch?” “The Art of War” and “Von Douche.” All episodes are currently streaming on Hulu.

Howard Was Known for Being ‘Racist” & ‘Anti-Semitic’

Given the controversial and at times criminal history of the 2000’s Von Dutch label, it is no wonder the brand’s inspiration was also a controversial figure.

The Los Angeles Times critiqued Petersen Automotive Museum in 2018 for not exploring Howard’s “racist and anti-semitic” history, including his admiration of the Third Reich.

The publication shared a letter of his explaining why he was no longer pursuing “harsh medical treatment for a fatal illness.” It read:

“I am not willing to go through it anymore only to emerge in a place full of [N-word], Mexicans and Jews. … I have always been a Nazi and still believe it was the last time the world had a chance of being operated with logic. What a shame so many Americans died and suffered to make the rich richer and save England & France again, or was that still. I hope you lying wimps get swallowed up with your stupidity.”

Some Nazi imagery can also be seen in his motor creations. As the Los Angeles Times revealed, his “Flying Eyeball” logo harkens back to the Wehrmacht Adler logo which featured a “wreathed swastika surmounted by a winged eagle.” Though in Howadard’s version, the swastika was replaced by his “all-seeing eye, bloodshot from booze.”

The tailgate of the Kenford includes the phrase, “Haus von der Flieger Augen” which the Los Angeles Times translated to “From the house of the flying eyeball.”

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