The first time I came across Retro Image Apparel, I didn't even know it. I was Christmas shopping for my nephews at Clover (a great kids store in Ballard), but after a quick tour of the store I was struggling for inspiration. Then, in the back corner, I zeroed in on a stack of kids t-shirts silkscreened with classic commercial artwork for a long-defunct French bicycle manufacturer. As an avid cyclist as well as a fan of great design, I rifled through the pile, picked out two favorites and happily shipped them off to New York.
Fast forward to this morning. As my wife and I were making a quick pass through the Fremont Sunday Market, we were both drawn to the same booth by a visual feast of graphic design -- Russian social realist propaganda, classic art deco product labels, and dozens of examples of commercial art for European cycling and motorcycle companies, emblazoned across everything from men's and women's t-shirts to infant onesies to aprons and jeans jackets. The mysterious purveyor of Clover's kids t-shirts turned out to be Roger, the owner, manager, and production chief of Retro Image Apparel.
In the process of picking up several baby gifts, plus a birthday present for my brother (also a cyclist, and father of the now-stylishly-clad nephews), we learned that Roger has been accumulating out-of-copyright graphic design for over twelve years, and has been turning them into unique and stylish clothing in his Ballard workshop for the past two. His cycling designs were recently featured in a national cycling magazine, and orders have started to roll in from across the U.S. and, increasingly, from Europe as well.
In addition to his occasional appearances in Fremont, Roger sells t-shirts - both pre-produced and custom orders - through his website: http://www.retroimageapparel.com. Click through his extensive catalog of classic designs and you're sure to come across an image that strikes you. Pick a color, order it soon and you're likely to have a cool shirt that your friends have never seen. Wait too long and you might have to settle for something your crowd has seen before - Roger's orders are taking off, and it's safe to say that his designs will be seen much more frequently on the streets of Seattle (and New York, and Paris) before too long.