The Daily Mail
has a lovely, glowing travel piece on Cleveland up this week, which normally wouldn't be anything worth noting, but the eagle-eyed author makes prominent note of the city's collective fashion sense.
It's not even a footnote or an aside in the piece. It's one of the three teasers up top, sandwiched between our shared sense of loyalty and our art, sports and music.
"...everyone there wears a T-shirt emblazoned with 'Cleveland'"
Which, while a tad exaggerated, isn't exactly wrong...?
Anyway, here's the lede:
In most parts of the world, if you were to wear a T-shirt bearing the name of a city, it would mark you out as a tourist. In Cleveland, things are different – if you’re NOT wearing a T-shirt with the name of the city on it you look like a tourist.
Whether it’s one of the sports teams – the Indians, the Cavs or the Browns – or just the famous city script, Cleveland T-shirts are everywhere you look. Moms on the school run, construction guys on their way to work, waitresses at the neighbourhood diner – they’re all proud to wear their heart on their sleeve and Cleveland on their shirt.
Yes, most of us have a drawer full of Cleveland gear, whether it's for The Sports, purchased on our own volition, or acquired as a gift from some unimaginative aunt who doesn't know us very well and didn't really have that much interest in thinking of a unique gift and boy are they just busy and hey, there's the Cleveland Clothing Co., they'll just grab something there, oh there's only XXXXLs left, well they can always come back and exchange it for something else.
Many of our shirts are bad
, of course, and a healthy portion are pooped out in the same tried and true formula (mix one part sports team colorway with some variation on text like Cleveland vs. the World) you'll find in Detroit or Toledo or wherever. Sure, Cleveland's t-shirt industrial complex leaves us with a brand per capita ratio that's probably not sustainable and definitely not necessary, but that doesn't answer the question of why, once this stuff's in our drawer, we actually take it out and wear it.
The author seems to ascribe some civic loyalty to the preponderance of Clevo gear he saw on the streets. That's one way to look at it. There's also, of course, a way to look at that as confirmation that we're a bunch of sartorial rubes.