When it comes to official tour merchandise, few artists can match the swag of Nashville renegade Nikki Lane. She parlayed a World War II-era fighter-pilot’s patch – featuring a Posada-stark human skull – into rings, badges, pendants and a limited-edition shirt from Hometown Jersey, a company that makes posh shirts utilizing vintage racing-jersey looms from the 1930s and stitched-felt lettering.
“They’re made in small batches, and we don’t sell them by the dozen because they’re expensive,” she says of the $150 garment. “But I really like that it’s handmade in the United States, so it’s nice to shine a light on that brand.”
Lane knows alt-country craftsmanship. She wrote and recorded her 2011 debut “Walk of Shame” on a dare, simply to prove to her skeptical songwriting then-boyfriend that she could pen twangy tracks as well as he could. “I’m very motivated by spite,” admits the singer, who hammered her point home with last year’s Dan Auerbach-produced followup, “All or Nothin’” and will dip into both in The City this weekend.
“And it’s been fun to play the game and treat it like a little puzzle, of how to survive as a country singer in 2015,” she adds.
The South Carolina-born aesthete understands fashion even better. For years, she worked as shoe designer in New York, before settling into high-end retail. “I told brands the direction to go, and the fits and style to do around denim,” she recalls.
She quit when she optimistically moved to Nashville to pursue music, but re-entered that world when country didn’t initially pay her rent. “I’ve always had an interest in buying and selling things, and I had to come up with ways to easily make money on a freelance time frame,” she says.
It explains High Class Hillbilly, a clothing store – and occasional pop-up shop – Lane runs in town. The moniker started a joke, she says, “because I was a little bit high-class, and a little bit white trash, but I quickly realized that the name worked perfectly, and it’s been called that ever since.”
She acquires much of her Western-themed stock while antiquing on tour, and she’s also begun collaborating on signature retro designs with Stance socks and Brixton hats. She’s hoping to create a line of chain-stitched tops with the custom Fort Lonesome brand.
Lane actually met Black Keys guitarist Auerbach when she sold him a hunting jacket from the 1940s, her favorite era. “I’ve found a lot of first-edition motorcycle jackets from back then, and those are the Big Kahuna for me,” she says. “But a lot of the really good stuff? It doesn’t even make it out of my closet!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Nov. 27
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com