photo by

Jason McClaren

Craftsman of Dreams

Make Believe Clothing’s Brandon Herbel thinks and dreams big

EDITOR'S NOTE: The official launch date of Make Believe Clothing Co.'s is Tuesday, May 29. The new shop is located just below Liquid Courage near 75th and Pacific streets.


In the past several years, Omaha’s creative community has seen significant growth in terms of art, film and music. Now with the help of Make Believe Clothing Co. and its founder, Brandon Herbel, Omaha’s fashion scene is about to receive a well-deserved push into the national spotlight.

Established in 2009 by Herbel and his business partner David Blaze, Make Believe Clothing provides a line of casual, comfortable and affordable T-shirts and hoodies inspired by the aesthetic appeal of 1950s simplicity. Designed and screen printed here locally at the Mastercraft building downtown, Make Believe seeks to provide its buyers with more than just clothes but also with a bit of inspiration. As one shirt states, they are: the “Craftsmen of Dreams.”

Growing up in Hastings, Neb., and later Grand Island, Neb., Herbel moved to Omaha at age 18. His introduction to the world of professional design came when he began developing CD covers and various merchandise for local bands. Word quickly spread and soon he was being commissioned by companies all over the country (including Nike and Windows Microsoft).

While he is currently busy working on a myriad of projects — CD covers, posters, logos — he says he’ll never fully stray from designing clothes. And it’s a good thing because lately, his clothes have been in demand.
Stylists in L.A. stumbled upon several of Herbel’s T-shirt designs through Make Believe co-founder David Blaze (who lives in California) and soon celebrities like Kristen Stewart, Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson were photographed wearing the label. Stewart even wore one design (a grey Make Believe tank top with an Indian head printed on the front — similar shirts pictured on this week’s cover of The Reader) during her appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Soon people began placing orders online seeking to buy “Kristen’s shirt” from all over the country, and even the U.K.

With all his success comes the inevitable question: “Why stay in Omaha?” A husband and recent father, Herbel says he prefers Omaha to cities like New York or L.A. Having lived for a short period of time in Seattle, Herbel decided to return to Omaha and run his business from here. He says he appreciates the cities’ strong sense of community. “Also, I wanted to settle down in a place that would allow me to cost-effectively expand my business.”
Some local patrons may be confusing Make Believe Clothing with Make Believe Studios, another business native to Omaha with a similar name. Make Believe Studios focuses mainly on music production, not clothing. While certain artists affiliated with Make Believe Studios have teamed up creatively with Herbel in the past, they are actually two separate companies.

As of now, Herbel’s designs are available primarily online, but a storefront called River City Social Club is in development and set to open as early as this summer. Located below Liquid Courage Tattoo & Piercing on 75th near Pacific Street, River City Social Club will carry Make Believe Clothing as well as other streetwear brands like Benny Gold and Rebel 8. While River City Social Club will be slightly geared toward menswear, Herbel says there will be something for everyone seeing as many of the Make Believe designs are unisex.

“The storefront will be more than just a place to buy clothes,” Herbel says. “I want it to be a platform for local artists to showcase their work. I want to bring local artists together. Right now I feel like Omaha’s on the verge of something great. We’re on the verge of an artistic movement. With River City Social Club, I want to create a place that can facilitate that movement.” ,

posted at 08:43 pm
on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


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