Whether its 60 or 90 degrees, there’s one article of clothing that crosses seasons and is a mandatory accessory fit for every body. The tee shirt. The everyday t-shirt identifies your cool, gives away your politics and tattles your agenda. Some are obvious mobile billboards that advertise your likes from sports team to superhero. Latest polls suggest your average Jane and Joe have about 30 tees and we can’t seem to get enough of them.
Carrboro’s The Merch is the local spot for custom designs to represent you. I visited the super-creative trio in their shop. The feeling of a man cave meets garage band hits you as soon as I stepped through the door. The decor included large band posters, Luchadora masks, and a drum kit in the corner. According to Chip, he and Patrick as co-owners, originally set out to provide tee shirts to bands. It was a pairing of two things they both loved, music and design, that came with one small financial hitch: bands didn’t have much of a budget. But fortunately word got around that they were creating quality products at a great price with quick turnaround times. The two pro’s have an accumulated 20+ years in screen printing.
Chip took me quickly through the process in six steps:
1. Draw – draw the design
2. Print – a Laser printer burns the image between two pieces of plastic to create a film positive
3. Expose – an Emulsified screen gets exposed to light
4. Light – light makes a stencil around the screen negative
5. Wash – wash the screen clean
6. Dry – dry the screen
Their top selling shirts are the ones that show Carrboro’s pride.
Next time you’re in the market for a new tee with an awesome design, stop by The Merch.http://chapelboro.com/columns/hot-things/the-merch-and-custom-t-shirts
Hot Things is a column dedicated to the quest of new knick-knacks, patty-wacks and haberdasheries. In this Hot Things debut, we’ll introduce the bespoke cravat designer, Kate Ross. The name may be ringing a bell of familiarity. Though similar to the uber supermodel, this is an altogether different Kate. I first met Kate Ross on a beautiful summer day last July. Cue the flashback music and wavy lines…
I had taken the wheel on what was a pleasant two hour drive with friends to Charlotte from Durham. Since my driving skills put us there with a few minutes to spare before the appointment, we used the time to freshen up a bit. I fluffed out my Afro, tapped my wrists with Burberry oil and popped in a piece of gum. I was there providing moral support for a friend auditioning for a fashion show model call. And naturally, I was looking forward to seeing the models, what they were wearing, as well as how the process worked.
As we turned the corner, following directions to take us around back, I noticed someone ahead of us. I was taken aback by the style and my first view of an actual “get up.” When we caught up to the speed walking fashionista, I quickly categorized her gear from bottom to top. The Blue and white saddle shoes that brought me visions of my preppy childhood – dope. Yellow chino’s gracing her calves – fresh. White Oxford shirt – sharp. But it was the bow tie perched perfectly around her neck pulling everything together that made the ensemble pure flame.
Over the next season, we did the digital dance of our techno century. Yes, we exchanged text messages, became Facebook friends and googled each other. As her name came up with multiple pages of info, I began to realize just how prolific and genius inspired she is.
Kate Ross is the head designer and creator of Distinguished Cravat, a line of custom made neck art. I say art because each tie is a handcrafted original. Kate Ross is one of those rare designers, seamlessly combining a visionary outlook, philanthropic spirit and super fresh style. The line is a collection of signature bow ties, or “cravats” handmade from up cycled vintage ties.
Each cravat has its own name inspired by a pioneer in African-American history. “Scroll of Knowledge” is inspired by poet, musician and actor, Saul Williams. Other ties are a nod to the influence of fictional characters. One such piece is “Nettie’s Blues” inspired from a scene between Celie and Nettie in the ever popular The Color Purple. The self-described Bowtie pioneer reaches back into history with Derby Noir No. 13, honoring African-American jockey’s like James “Soup” Perkins, one of the youngest jockey’s to race and win the Kentucky Derby in 1895. It is this combination of tributes and dedications that makes each tie wearable art as well as a conversation piece.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down for a Q&A with the custom cravat creator. I’m excited to share her words and vision behind the collection. Most importantly, for the month of April to recognize Autism Awareness, she has contributed two distinct pieces available for silent auction only. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to iCan House, a resource center for families with children diagnosed with a wide spectrum of autism. During our conversation, she was full of smiles and humility, traits for a quick rise to the top of her world.
June Sadler: Who is KATE ROSS?
KATE ROSS: Daily I am still finding that out. What I do know is, that I am a “Creative Elevator” in other words a “creative being embracing my own genius.” I am also the proud owner of DistinguishedCravat.com where I specialize in Exclusively Patterned Handcrafted Neck Attire; Bow Ties & “Signature” Neck Attire. I am my signature (smiling)… I am learning to leave my “creative signature” on as many moments of life that I am blessed to have. I am a Vessel of Gods…An Ambitious Soul…inspired by Love; one might say I am a living example “Love…” “of the Creative Class” …simply put…a elevator that is taking “fashion,” “art,” & ones definition of passion to another level.
Sadler: What is Distinguished Cravat?
ROSS: Humbly, we are the future of Exclusively Patterned Handcrafted Bow Ties and Classic Neck Attire. “CRAVAT,” has garnered a respectable following thus far, our private clients come from various walks of life. For Years, refined European and casual all-American neck attire have been imitated, rehashed, reinterpreted and reworked season after season but never before has there been neck attire as distinguished as “CRAVAT.” This is a new, revolutionary, remixed laid back luxury brand is inspired by the Style of a Universal culture extends beyond American boarders. “CRAVAT,” collections are style forward yet familiar, chic and prim. With historical influences we are looking forward to making history over the next 500+ years of Art, Fashion & Style. Each piece of neck attire possesses a genuine innovative quality that is a true representation of a DISTINGUISHED “CRAVAT.”
Sadler: How do you design your pieces?
ROSS: There is no science behind what I do, paying homage to the present, past & future is the foundation for my design process. I would say I am very in tune with the God in me, my heart and spirit. I listen to those elements regardless of what the rest of the world of is up to. My creative process is like creating a work of art, you don’t create it all at once, and because you don’t it leaves so much room to be inspired which create a masterpiece. With every piece especially from 2012 forward I am aiming to create definitive pieces that will not be surpassed, pieces that will challenge designers who come after me who will continue the legacy I start every time I begin creating a new Distinguished Cravat. One might say my process is that of a Pioneer, going where no one has ever gone.
Sadler: Where do you draw inspiration for yourself and your designs?
ROSS: I have designed all of my life, I just designed in different aspects of life. I don’t just design Cravats; I elevate the minds of many that I come into contact with and even that is designing. I think of communication as the art of language and every time I speak, I design my world through my thoughts, words and deeds. Every moment of life is my true inspiration, at any given moment a design I create could be inspired by any given day of my life. I realized that I had a passion for fashion when I realized I had passion for life & being a living example of Love.
Sadler: Why donate to Autism Awareness with your signature pieces and Silent Auction?
ROSS: I recently learned of the iCan House while doing research to help a dear friend whose nephew was diagnosed with Autism two weeks ago. Being a fan of this young, spirited gentleman, I was in shock and hurt at the same time. Frightened and misinformed, I began to search for a local organization in my hometown of Winston-Salem, NC that could be of help. I found the iCan House an immediate resource. As an artist I am filled with a certain joy when I create and knowing this about myself I decided to create the Autism Awareness – Distinguished Cravat Silent Auction which is a (two piece) Collection that is available by silent auction only by emailing us.
The iCan House is a special place created to help our community focus on what they CAN do by providing social opportunities for those with developmental disabilities and social skills deficits while also creating hope for those who love them.http://chapelboro.com/lifestyle/style-fashion/hot-things-kate-ross-2