Yesterday, I walked down to “Rockridge Out and About,” a street fair that closed off about six blocks of College from Claremont to well past the BART station.
The event was great. It was a beautiful, sunny and breezy afternoon. All three music stages were loud and lively. Cars were stuck trying to circumvent the major thoroughfare while pedestrians roamed freely. There were yummy samples of eight different kinds of local oil, and several kinds of cheeses. I even got to meet someone from ULTRA (Urbanists for a Livable Rockridge and Temescal Area) and got to ask about upcoming meetings.
But what struck me most was the multitude of vendors selling clothing and accessories featuring some expression of Oakland pride. For a while I’ve been meaning to write about this phenomenon, and now seems like the perfect time. First, I have to admit that I kind of have a problem when it comes to Oakland goods. I barely wear t-shirts anymore, except on the weekends, but I can’t help myself when I see a clever new Oakland design. Just take a look at mine and my girlfriend’s collection:
There’s of course Oaklandish, which to my knowledge was one of the first groups of artists that started promoting the Oakland image through clothing (and other means, like movies and communal activities). From their website…
OAKLANDISH is a stealth multi-form public art & media campaign designed to illuminate the unique culture and history existing here in The Town. Since our first projects in 2K the now ubiquitous roots image has come to represent the strange luster and oddball spirit that is East Bay life.
Strangely, the Oaklandish truck was no where to be found at the Rockridge street fair yesterday…
The next artist I discovered was the man behind the now infamous Oakland cranes shirt, who runs The Girl and Rhino. He’s got lots of non-Oakland designs too, and I heard via his girlfriend that they might be retiring the crane design soon because they’re getting a bit tired of it. As you can see by our collection, my girlfriend and I are fans.
(It helps that the artist shows up to the Temescal Farmer’s Market every Sunday and we often chat.) Oh yeah – he has a newish bag that’s not up on his site: i 8 Oakland. You’ll have to find him at the market to snag one of these…
Yesterday, I stumbled upon some artists that have more recently embraced Oakland. The first was 35TH & MAC, who’s tagline is “Town Grown Flavor,” and they had some incredible designs, including these, that me and my girlfriend snagged:
They also had a nice design of the Oakland Tribune building. Unfortunately, their online store is not up and running yet, but I’m guessing I’ll see them again soon…
Next was Like Minded People, whose designs I’ve seen in Fabric8, a great store in SF that features clothing from several talented Bay Area artists. Believe it or not, I managed not to buy anything from them, but I was tempted by this shirt featuring an old school downtown cityscape:
You still with me? I hope so because there’s a couple more jewels of East Bay gear I want to share. I really couldn’t write this post with at least mentioning the “I hella❤ Oakland” shirts. If you haven’t seen these, well, I think you might be living in a cave, but I’ve included a picture just in case. More recently, someone has spun off this idea and created the “I Hella Bike Oakland” (with a picture of a bike). They’re sold at the Tip Top Bike Shop in Temescal, but I have no idea who makes them.
OK, and here’s my last one (I promise). I was thrilled to find out that Upper Playground recently opened their first East Bay store, in Berkeley on Telegraph. And to celebrate this opening, they’ve released a new East Bay line. I was even more excited to find that one of their designs featured the bus I ride daily, old school orange and green AC Transit style.
Woo! That was tiring. Now that I’ve exhausted myself and anyone who’s still reading, I do have a couple thoughts on this phenomenon of wearing Oakland pride. First off, I think it’s pretty clear by now that I think it’s a good thing. I absolutely love wearing my Oakland pride, especially when I’m in SF or other cities. There’s still a large segment of the population that thinks of Oakland as just another run down city with a lot of crime. I’m happy to showcase the talented artists who make this city a bit brighter.
Besides spreading the word about how great Oakland is, I think wearing and buying Oakland goods in general does something else important -it supports Oakland artists and entrepreneurs. It’s difficult to make it as an artist. That’s why I have a day job and write in my free time. These artists are truly talented, and if Oaklanders are going to support them, who is?
For the three readers that have made it this far, what are your thoughts on this flood of Oakland goods hitting the market? Does it raise any concerns for you? Do you fully embrace it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.