Saturday, July 26, 2008

turning to t-shirts

The NY times recently ran a story called "Turning to T-Shirts to Spiff Up Downtrodden Cities". The article chronicled the efforts of t-shirt makers in cities such as Youngstown and St. Louis to create and sell apparel that "rehabilitates [the city's] image from the inside out and makes people want to stay".

Among the companies cited is Rusty Waters Apparel, based in Youngstown. The article also quotes Abby Wilson of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE), a group focused on bringing together Great Lakes cities to focus on common solutions to urban problems. "It's reframing the identity of those places that have been misrepresented," Wilson is quoted as saying.

T-shirts have long held a certain power in American culture. Advertisers use them to sell their product; people wear them to express themselves. For those of us living in the city, our t-shirts are something of a brand for ourselves - the images represent our city-loving hipster culture.

Right now, I'm wearing a t-shirt that reads, "Cleveland - West Side." It has this kitsch image of a skull sprouting wings - kind of a skull and crossbones thing. It's kind of a pseudo-Harley t-shirt for the intellectual urban planning nerd. I love it. I bought the t-shirt at Room Service, a boutique in the Gordon Square Arts District within the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

I'm sure you'll want to run right out and join the t-shirt brigade. Room Service can be found online at or visit their shop at 6505 Detroit Ave. (at the intersection of Detroit and W. 65th).

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