John Pugh wears his heart on his sleeve. Make that, chest.
As the owner and head designer of House of Swank, a Raleigh-based T-shirt and accessory outfit, Pugh shows love for his beloved home through his North Carolina-themed shirts, totes, koozies and more.
“Basically, I’m a stone-cold nut for anything involving my home state, and this sort of design work really speaks to me,” he says.
Others share that fervor. Over the past few years, clothing and accessories bearing symbols of city and state pride have grown in popularity around Charlotte and across the state.
Even as the slogan shirts that were all the rage nearly a decade ago have faded from the scene, local-centric style has gotten hotter – from necklaces shaped like the state of North Carolina to hip T-shirts that give a shout out to NoDa, Dilworth and Plaza Midwood from Docklands, an etsy website.
“I decided to design a better-looking neighborhood map and hoped that it would spark debate and conversation about who we are as Charlotteans based on where we live in the city,” says Evan Plante, who creates Docklands shirts with his wife, Susan. “I had no idea that there was so much untapped neighborhood pride all over the city.”
Pride aside, there’s another good reason North Carolina-centric designs are so chic.
“North Carolina, in particular, has such a good shape,” says Ginna Earl, who also creates North Carolina-shaped necklaces for her Carrboro shop, Vespertine Café. “I really don’t think I would sell as many if it was Colorado or Arizona.”
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