May 25, 2015

Shop Talk: Where to Shop for Graphic T-Shirts in San Francisco

If you ask us, the humble t-shirt is the staple of every wardrobe. If you’re interested in finding original t-shirts that reflect your individuality while supporting local designers at the same time, then we have a few suggestions for places to check out that offer shirts you won’t find anywhere else. So get out there and get yourself a t-shirt (or two) that enhances your unique style:

Park Life: A great store in the Inner Richmond, Park Life has an excellent selection of unique graphic t-shirts and doubles as an art gallery. They have something for almost everyone, including prints, books, jewelery and design-oriented items for the home.

Fabric8: In The Mission, this boutique offers an array of locally-designed tees and an off-beat gallery in the back (including a sculpture garden and goldfish in the bathtub).

Lower Haters: Next comes this Lower Haight collective, which promotes fashion, art and design by local artists, as well as music and apparel.

Upper Playground: A constantly rotating stock of tees featuring designs by local artists and a large selection of gear will keep you coming back.

True: Actually three separate stores (for men’s, women’s and shoes) on Haight Street, this place is well-stocked with hip-hop and street-wear inspired graphic tee options, including local designs in an array of styles.

Free Gold Watch: What’s not to like about a place that makes unique shirts that you can watch them print on site?  The store has an awesome display of totally one-of-a-kind tees with a playful 80′s vibe and a great sales rack.

Gama-Go: A great source for locally designed graphic tees, the company started in a garage in San Francisco and sells its whimsical merchandise, now including kitchen and home accessories, in stores throughout the country.

My Trick Pony: Head here for custom t-shirt orders, as well as the shirts and greeting cards this local shop sells on its web site and in the studio. If you need it, they’ll help you create a design, and there’s no minimum order. For faster service, we’d recommend making an appointment before you head in.

More San Francisco shopping

Photo courtesy of Park Life

Most Wanted: Bandit Brand Tees



If it seems like a heady mixture of Wild West sensibilities, badass biker spirit and 1970′s nostalgia sum up the aesthetic behind Watsonville-based Bandit Brand tees, it’s for good reason. Just ask the label’s designer Jen McMillan about her youth, and it all starts to make sense.

“I grew up in a super small town in the mountains of Colorado and am super nostalgic about all of the cool old Western and biker stuff I saw growing up there. I spent most of my time in an arcade that was attached to the bar where my parents hung out, and I got to grow up in the 70′s, so there was that whole Urban Cowboy look going on. Even though I thought my parents looked retarded at the time, the fashion and the music back then really bring back some awesome feelings now and help me to design the tees,” she says.

Along with the help of local artists such as San Francisco rock poster designer Alan Forbes, McMillan turns out cotton tees for men and women that beg for a perfectly worn-in pair of jeans, beat-up boots and a lazy Saturday afternoon. And for the label-averse, you’ll appreciate the fact that there’s no branding on the hand screen-printed shirts – just rock concert-chic artwork inspired by McMillan’s sketches and her ongoing obsession with small town Americana. Also part of McMillan’s collection is a selection of vintage-inspired fabric handbags and handmade jewelry featuring bison, Native American chiefs and wolves.

Available online and in San Francisco at CC Rider, Wasteland and Grant’s Tobacconists. Or stop by the McMillan’s shop, Idle Hands (805 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA), the next time you’re down her way and view them in person.

[Photography: from top, Liz Caruana, Valeri Schwartz, Liz Caruana]

More local designers


Werd Up

Could it be any grayer outside? If you’re looking for a serious shot of color, look no further than the latest limited edition designs from the creative kids at Mumz the Werd.