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
THE MINK CLOTHING COMPANY
“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.
“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.”