Regan Smith Clarke – a 2002 graduate of Revere High School (RHS) – has found his niche with designer T-Shirts, and he’s hoping to make a big splash with his latest line of designs released just this month.
For Smith Clarke, clothing has always been an interest.
“Clothes are a way of expressing whom you are – very telling of your personality,” he said. “T-Shirts are also a form of expression of your personality. I’ve always been into that.”
Yet, it took musical expression for Smith Clarke to discover his eye for design.
As a student at RHS and a Beachmont resident, Smith Clarke said he played in several bands over the years. And, of course, part of being in a band is having promotional materials.
“That’s where I started,” he said. “I was playing in local bands and that’s what led me into designing. Someone in the band always has to take up the role – the guy who designs all the flyers and promotional materials and T-Shirts. I was always that guy.”
That experience led him to study design at Merrimack College.
Following that, he began working as a graphic designer for web and print media.
That, he said, was his day job.
However, he also had his eye towards marketing his own brand of T-Shirts in his spare time.
For the past two years, he has been doing just that – refining a brand that’s built on inspiration from vintage designs. This past March, he hit the ground running with his first clothing line release.
“The premise of my brand was drawing my inspiration from vintage art, posters and old signs,” he said. “I have this vintage style in all my T-Shirts. It’s rustic and classic to me. The other part is I like to have a message or meaning behind all the designs.”
Smith Clarke said one of the messages behind his designs is being clear and being real. That’s why he has chosen real cotton shirts made by one of the premier American shirt makers.
“I’m very direct and my designs are always going to be clear and always going to be real,” he said. “I only use American Apparel. In the fashion world, they’re sort of the go-to brand. The benefits are it’s a superior quality garment – very soft – and people know American Apparel. It’s a premium product.”
In his most recent line, released this month, Smith Clarke has T-Shirts, screen prints, tote bags, button packs, skateboard decks and button up shirts.
So far, he said the early successes of his brand have come through the Internet and word of mouth.
“Everything I’ve done has been through word of mouth,” he said. “I realized also that online communities, marketing websites and message boards, being a part of those communities is very beneficial. Getting in tight with people to run T-Shirt specialty blogs is important today. I’ve actually gotten write-ups from those people.”
He has also been pushing his brand at several major specialty fairs in Brooklyn and San Francisco – known as the Renegade Craft Fairs.
He has also been doing a fair in Boston’s South End on a regular basis too.
“I’ve been doing shows all across the country and I’m going to keep doing that, along with the online marketing too,” he said.
However, as it always is with clothing sales, it has been the personal connections he has made with people that has driven him on.
“It’s been great meeting so many people,” he said. “When you sell things, the people who end up buying from you know you in the end. It’s all about that personal connection.”