Graphic T-shirts touting Louisville and Kentucky have been a working-class fashion statement around these parts for years. Musician Scott Ritcher was selling T-shirts stating, simply, “Louisville: The Biggest City in Kentucky” a decade ago. WHY Louisville, a Bardstown Road shop founded in 2005, did even more to accelerate city and state pride in T-shirt form.
Now, national retailers are getting into the Kentucky T-shirt game.
Here’s a T-shirt available on the Gap’s website:
Horses! Bourbon! Trees and, uh, barrels!
They hit some of the highpoints.
For a response to the Gap’s Kentucky tee, I went to WHY Louisville proprietor Will Russell. Russell notes that WHY Louisville’s T-shirts are designed by artists who live or are from the area, meaning their “native passion and insider take on the design shines through.” But Russell said he understands why a Gap would do a Kentucky tee.
“Kentucky has a sexy shape,” he said. “You can’t blame the big retailers for cashing in on the Kentucky game.”
So how did the Gap do design-wise, anyway? I asked Russell to critique:
“The Gap’s Kentucky tee is fine. People love bourbon and horses so I’m sure they will sell the hell out of them,” he said in a Facebook message. “The main problem is you have to go to the mall to get one which in my opinion is a wretched hive of scum and villiany. Be cautious out there, or perhaps you can avoid that racket altogether and support local independent businesses.”