In our discussion of The Chop Shop identity back in January, Nick Sherman called out the “Hip Traditional” trend. Sam Potts’ work for the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. — a theme store benefiting the youth literacy nonprofit 826 National — represents the more utilitarian branch of that style. And utility is certainly central to the brand’s philosophy:
The goal for the design, like the store itself, is of course to serve the crimefighting community by providing goods and services to superheroes and sidekicks. We strive to provide top quality no-nonsense reliable equipment—nothing less. The work our local (and the occasional visitor from abroad) superheroes do is far too important to be left to untrustworthy gear. — Sam Potts
Hoboken High — a straightforward tribute to varsity athletic lettering — and sturdy Futura caps certainly convey the BSSCo. guarantee of reliability and strength. The similarity to what I called “generic packaging” isn’t lost on Potts:
While the store and its many brands use a variety of other typefaces, I think the stark Hoboken/Futura labels are the most successful. Mixed with a bit of typewriter and other anonymous letters, they have an authenticity that supports the store’s theme, getting every visitor into the spirit of the notion that they really are a standard, everyday crime fighter dropping by to pick up a can of x-ray vision.
Since we strive to be a goods & services provider, it has turned out that we share certain typographic, uh, tendencies with local business: emissions testers, hardware stores, air conditioner refurbishers, knife grinders, that kind of thing. Because of the storefront we have been mistaken for a hardware, which is probably the best indication that the typography is conveying the right things about what we offer.
Update: Potts just wrote to elaborate on Hoboken High. He thinks he chose Hoboken because “it’s much better designed than Machine. Machine is actually kind of hideous, but there are few alternatives.” Which is quite true. In the sans serif category, there are few others that fit the bill so well. Perhaps only United which would offer more weights and widths but might even be too refined for the purpose. If blatantly constructed forms are the goal, there are also a few in this genre somewhere on FontStruct, and it may even be a quick job to create your own font with the tool. But in the end, as Potts says, “Hoboken, for what it is, is essentially a perfect typeface.”