Sweet tees: Local designers' high-style T-shirts

Mink, Ides of March, Threadish, SLOH, and Bluelucy take the tee to a new high.


The Tampa Bay designer tee scene has expanded since local apparel company Black & Denim (now with a retail location at Channelside) made a mark with its distinctive American-made, Americana-themed attire. Now many new brands have marched into the picture, each with its own perspective. The tees featured below cost $20-30, more or less, which makes shopping local super affordable (and, as always, fabulous). (For extended interviews with the designers, go here.

“We wanted to establish a signature that would make us stand out.” —Matty Mink

The candy-colored t-shirt with a camouflaged ferret — or was it a weasel? — on the front caught my attention. Then the soft patch on the sleeve caused me to feel up the stranger wearing it at my friend’s birthday brunch. Turns out, the camo creature is a mink named Sir Barrington, the color is “mint” and the t-shirt is from The Mink Clothing Company.

Every shirt bears the furry patch. “It’s this little certificate of authenticity sewn right to your clothes in plain sight,” says co-founder and creative director Matty Mink.

Dig it.

“Mac [the guy Matty brainstorms with] came up with the original idea for the patch. We were in that early stage of the company where we were trying to really define the feel of the brand. Mac suggested putting a little piece of fur on the sleeve. It just made total sense.”

They experimented with it to decide on exact measurements and placement. “Even the way the patch is sewn on is extremely particular.”

Matty suggests pairing Mink with your favorite jeans and “dopest” sneakers. “But,” he says, “I’ve seen people wear a Mink tee under a suit jacket with chinos and Gucci shoes and look better than everyone else in the room.”

Inspired by: “Music plays a huge role. I always listen to music when I design. Gang culture has been another big inspiration, but it’s really just life in general. I’ve been inspired by everything from a vintage advertisement to a girl I met at a club. Oh, and weed. Weed is a HUGE inspiration.”

Manufactured by: Hidden. Sworn to secrecy.

Tee availability: Online at minkofficial.com and at The Urban Unit in Clearwater mostly, but also at Dynasty Clothing (Largo), On Point Fashions (St. Pete and New Port Richey), and Trendsetters Apparel (Seminole).

Also up their sleeve: Tube socks at oddsoxofficial.com


“Style is such a cool f
orm of personal expression.” —Dwight Morrison

Idol worship is alive and well for Ides of March. “Our designs are inspired indirectly by ancient Roman ideology, with a little bit of hip-hop references sprinkled throughout to make for an interesting combination of themes,” says co-founder and designer Dwight Morrison. 

Even though the Brutus jersey tee has an air of violence, I do like the powerful front-to-back design. A lot. And on another note, their “Betrayal” hoodie is pretty killer.

Pair with: Slim/skinny fit denim or joggers and a dope pair of kicks.

Don’t pair with: Overly baggy jeans (Dwight’s pet peeve).

Also offers: Tank tops and hats (snapbacks, 5-panel, and beanies).

Tee availability: Online at iomxv.com and at Soleciety Sneaker Boutique in Wesley Chapel.


“My designs are often influenced by movies and pop culture.” —Rachal Chisholm

A hippo declaring “I don’t like your shoes” comes off as “Hippocritical” and is one of the latest designs by Threadish (along with an “Inglorious Banthas” one and a few other Star Wars-fueled memes).

“T-shirts aren’t just clothing; they’re portable art,” says Threadish founder and designer Rachal Chisholm. She started Threadish while attending high school and is now a student at USF with plans to take Threadish to the next level. She would love to see her shirts on anyone from Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or Star Wars — or on Conan O’Brien.

“We sent him an original Threadish t-shirt long ago and we never heard anything. But we still love him! Maybe I should send one to Jimmy Fallon.”

Pair with: A good sense of humor and maybe some sweet jeans.

Would love to see it at: Tampa Bay Comic Con.

Coming soon: Handmade jewelry.

Tee availability: threadish.com


“Your outfit is your statement to the world and we make it our goal to make sure that statement is a powerful one. A statement that exudes swagger, sexiness, self-assurance,” —Cedrick Bowden

SLOH stands for “Sexy Level on High” for the ladies and “Swagg Level on High” for guys. “Our brand philosophy is pure and simple — confidence,” says Cedrick, who owns the company with his brother, Fredrick Bowden.

I like the lipstick kiss version for girls and appreciate the attention to detail with the upward-pointing arrow completing the H in the SLOH logo.

Designed by: Local graphic artist Huston Lett.

Wear to: Trendy restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Coming soon: Men’s v-necks, sweaters and hoodies.

Tee availability: slohapparel.com

And while we’re on the topic of local tees, check out the “World Tour” t-shirt created by Chad Mize of Bluelucy. The idea isn’t a new one but he did put a St. Pete spin on it, coupling the city with the culture capitals Paris, London and Tokyo. The first shirt came in black with white lettering, the second featured navy with yellow, and soon there will be a rainbow-colored version to celebrate St. Pete Pride. Available online at bluelucy.bigcartel.com and at Blue Lucy Gallery (653 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg Mon.-Fri. 3-7p.m. and Saturday 12-6 p.m.)

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