More and more shops across Northwest Indiana are stocking Region Wear's line of T-shirts that promote Calumet Region pride and identity.
The Merrillville-based apparel company, the brainchild of Munster native Kevin Templeman, sells T-shirts and vinyl stickers, including "Region Proud" and "219," Northwest Indiana's area code. There's also a T-shirt with an outline of Indiana that highlights the Northwest corner of the state affectionately known as the Region.
"I noticed during my travels there seems to be a lot of local pride in where you come from," Templeman said. "You see it all over Michigan. In Chicago, you see the city flag and 312 all over the place. The part of Indiana referred to as the Region always had that kind of pride and that kind of feeling. It was already here; I just put in on T-shirt."
Local retailers, such as the Indiana Welcome Center gift shop in Hammond, have started stocking the Region Wear shirts that stress local pride. Templeman had been mainly selling them at local markets such as Hunt and Gather, Fetching Market and Three Little Birds Market in Valparaiso over the last few years.
Stores started reaching out to him about carrying the T-shirts, which are now available at Antiques on Main in Crown Point, The Market @ 119 in Whiting and Aster + Grey in Valparaiso.
"For me, it really helps to get more eyes on it," he said. "If I'm going to markets, I only get exposed to a certain amount of people."
Eventually, Templeman hopes to get the T-shirt brand in at least one store in every town in Northwest Indiana.
"I started with the 219 design, which is still the most popular," he said. "As the world gets more global, people want to represent where they're from. People latch onto the place where they grew up."
The shirts have proven especially popular with people who have gone off to college, enlisted in the military or moved away. Templeman said he gets a lot of out-of-state orders online and has gotten pictures of customers wearing the shirts all over, such as a newlywed couple that recently honeymooned in California.
He's been working on expanding the Region Wear brand, including by putting the designs on other products like sweatshirts, baseball shirts and pint glasses.
"I'm building up the online presence and doing all the events, all the different pop-up festivals," he said. "I'm making connections with people doing cool, creative things. People tell me it's a cool idea to see T-shirts that represent the area. People really seem to embrace it."
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/RegionWear/.