Jeff Rees and Mike Kubinski have caught hold of a moment. Their T-shirt line, C.L.E. Clothing Co., is the label of choice for Clevelanders who want to assert hometown pride with homegrown style. Now, they've opened a storefront on downtown's hottest block, East Fourth Street.
"We're guessing most of the people going into our downtown store will never have heard of us before," says Rees. "It opens up a whole new market for us."
Fans of the shirts already buy online or pick them up at Native Cleveland in Collinwood, but the new storefront, across from the Corner Alley at East Fourth and Euclid Avenue, aims to attract the nightlife crowd and the tourist. In fact, C.L.E. Clothing is opening next door to the new offices of Positively Cleveland, the city's convention and visitors bureau. Shoppers will be able to walk right through the store into the visitors center.
That fits C.L.E.'s mission: creating "really positive but fun designs" with local themes, as Kubinski puts it. Some of their newest shirts, conceived in rainy spring and debuted in luminous summer, play with the idea of local tourism: "Vacation in Cleveland: You're gonna love it!" exhorts a sky blue T in a retro typeface.
"This time we wanted to add Cleveland's sense of humor into our designs," Kubinski says.