The story of the economic transformation in the Midwest is a story about new jobs, new industries and economic growth.
But it’s also a story about how we regain our swagger.
And part of regaining our swagger is reminding ourselves what we love about where we live. There are now countless official PR and advertising campaigns aimed at doing just that. But there’s also a growing movement of young entrepreneurs who want us to wear our local pride. Wear it like a shirt.
The explosion of new businesses selling custom-designed t-shirts is not a local thing. And the growth of the “t-shirt economy” has been going on for at least the last several years.
But here in the Midwest, selling t-shirts with a local message isn’t just a business plan. It’s a transformative idea. Whenever you see one of these shirts on the street, you’re seeing a person that’s invested in the survival, growth and reinvention of our region. At the very least, they’re willing to invest $15 in it.
And wherever you live in the Midwest, there’s a now a t-shirt to show your local pride. Here’s a list of some of the t-shirt companies we’ve found:
Jupmode has mostly university apparel, but there are some designs that show off plain-old local pride. Here’s one that brings back the nearly century-old slogan: “You will do better in Toledo.”
If you live in Cleveland, there’s the CLE Clothing Co.
On the other side of the Lake, Chicago is home to one of the biggest players in the t-shirt business today. Threadless doesn’t really sell local t-shirts, but the company is probably the biggest success story in the Midwest t-shirt business.
Chicago is also home to Great To Be Here. Its sole focus is on local shirts, but the designs aren’t limited to the Midwest.
If both of those companies have too broad of a focus for you, you might be interested in Chicago L-Shirts. The company only sells designs that have to do with Chicago’s transit system.
UPDATE: Thanks to your comments here and on facebook, we can also tell you about Love Michigan, The Blonde Collective, Detroit GT, High Five Threads, Yooper Steez, Great Lakes Shirts, Rubber City Clothing, Dirty Three Thirty, Detroit Motor Apparel and Michigan Revolution.
We’re sure there’s more Midwest t-shirt companies out there, so help us fill up the list. Which company has your favorite shirt for showing off local pride?