Store: Animal Farm
Founder: Don Busweiler
Year opened: 1990; Year closed: 2000
Don Busweiler moved to Miami Beach in 1989 to attend art school. As a high school student, he garnered a local following in New York on Long Island for screenprinting the word “Pervert” onto T-shirts—Busweiller wanted to see if he could take the word’s negative connotation away by turning it into a clothing brand. He wanted to continue his brand in Miami and open an eclectic store that was similar to Union in downtown Manhattan. So he convinced Todd Glaser, the store’s original financer, who is a prominent Miami real estate developer today, to put up $10,000 to open Animal Farm on 1443 Collins Avenue in 1990.
Animal Farm was open from noon to midnight, located just across the street from the popular Warsaw nightclub, and always had a DJ spinning two Technic 1200 turntables. Aside from stocking the freshest gear from brands like Fresh Jive, X-Large, Fuct, Two Black Guys, and Triple Five Soul, Animal Farm became a clubhouse for skateboarders, BMX bikers, ravers, and members of Miami Beach’s hip hop scene.
“There were a couple of surf and tourist shops, but there was no dedicated streetwear store. Animal Farm was the first one,” says Geoff Heath, a veteran streetwear graphic designer who worked for Supreme in the late ’90s and started his career at Pervert and Animal Farm. “Within Miami and Miami Beach, Pervert was the hometown streetwear brand that was popular.”
By 1995, Animal Farm and Pervert were booming. Pervert was sold globally and worn by celebs like the Beastie Boys and Janet Jackson—she wore a Pervert shirt to the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, a look that was later copied by Givenchy. Jimmy George, one of the original founders of the skateboard brand Alien Workshop and the skateboard distribution company Cow Skates, invested in it. Busweiler even opened a standalone Pervert shop to sell extra stock a couple of blocks away. But then, suddenly, at the age of 25, Busweiler abandoned it all.
He met a religious cult passing through Miami known as the “Brethren,” a nomadic group of Christians who cut off their ties to mainstream civilization in exchange for salvation. Busweiler left his possessions, family, and friends behind to join the cult, despite his coworkers’ attempts to dissuade him.
Pervert and Animal Farm’s leftover employees attempted to keep the brand and the shop alive. However, due to disagreements with the business partners who owned the brand, the original Pervert team split. Former employees like Heath and Brendon Babenzian moved to New York City to work for Supreme. Animal Farm closed around 2000, and Pervert was laid to rest in the late ’90s. Busweiler, however, is still making clothes.
“Don stopped by Miami Beach last year and he designs all the clothes for his people,” says DJ Tom LaRoc, a childhood friend of Busweiler who helped get Pervert clothing on rappers in artists relations for Pervert. “We had a debate about herb and I was on a roll. They’re not with ganja and they couldn’t get a word in, edgewise. So the next day Don dropped off this art before he left and it reads, ‘Ain’t no high like the most high.’ He's still a modern-day typography artist.” —Lei Takanashi