Wednesday, July 8, 2009

HOMAGE to Cleveland

Thanks to Thomas Mulready, I discovered a new Ohio-based company to give my money to today. I also took a few minutes and chatted with one of the head dudes over there, Ryan. Turns out, not only are they selling some bad-ass t-shirts, they have a really great approach.

The name of the company, Homage, is appropriate, as they see one of their t-shirts not just as another piece of apparel to stuff in your closet, but as a cotton/poly-blend canvas on which to tell stories. According to Ryan, each design is a story unto itself, and when you check of few of them out, you start to see what he means. You definitely believe him when he says that their small operation has a lot of love for nostalgia. You also believe him when he turns serious about the business itself, saying that they are crafting a lifestyle brand that sells shirts Made in the USA and screen-printed in Columbus, complete with throwback tags. These are not shirts you'll see being hawked in stadium parking lots for $10 a pop. Instead, these are shirts on display at funky boutiques in the UK, Taiwan, and Japan, and being sported by folks like Morrisey and Buzz Aldrin. (Yes, that Buzz Aldrin - there's a shirt about him, too.)

The Columbus-based company has dozens of different designs available, and not all are Cleveland or Ohio-centered, though many are. In fact, Ryan seems particularly fond of the Cleveland shirts, particularly the sports one. As he tells it, Cleveland doesn't have much by way of championships to celebrate, so instead what we find ourselves cherishing are the out-size personalities and charismatic field generals of our teams, folks like Bernie Kosar and World B. Free.

Here are a few of my favorites.

This is the one Thomas Mulready's e-blast initially drew my attention to, and will soon be in my personal collection. To me, it represents the way I think about Cleveland now that I'm living here, and the way the rest of the WORLD will think about it once we've gone about the renaissance. Truly, it is the best Cleveland t-shirt I've seen yet, along with this new one by the C.L.E. Clothing folks.

Who doesn't love Bernie in this town? Bankruptcy or no, dude is still King of Cleveland (and, yes, I'm aware of LeBron). You probably don't have the 3.5 million to buy his house, so why not get the t-shirt instead. According to Ryan, this one originally came out during the 2008 election and initially had political undertones, but now it is just about how Bernie's awesomeness makes him a leader, only not really.

Being a Cleveland interloper, every day I learn about more wonderful stuff in Cleveland's past that I just didn't hear about in my days in Illinois and Texas (and Louisiana and Wisconsin). The saga of World B. Free is my newest and most favorite learning experience. Not only did this dude excel at hoops, he has quite possibly the best pro-sports name ever. Apparently being born with the name Lloyd Bernard Free and acquiring nicknames like "Prince of Midair" and "All-World" wasn't enough, so in 1980 dude had his name legally changed to World B. Free. How awesome is that? Ocho Cinco and He Hate Me, eat your heart out.

For now, your best bet to get these shirts is from the company's website (here), but hopefully there'll be some in-store presence in town soon. If there already is and I'm totally spacing, somebody please let me know.

Kudos, Homage. Keep up the good work!

1 comment:

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