Some things never go out of style. Since the 1950s, when Marlon Brando sported one in A Streetcar Named Desire, the t-shirt has been an iconic piece of the signature American wardrobe. Over the years people have cut, cropped, torn and branded their tees, all in an effort to make a statement of individuality with a basic item.
Chuck Freeman and Jake Hiller found their statement with the pocket. Chuck & Jake is a local apparel company that designs custom tees, with a twist: each pocket is individually sourced and made of a unique fabric with designs that are meant to reflect Austin's vibrant and eclectic vibe.
University of Texas alums Freeman and Hiller came up with the idea in 2009, during their senior year of school. Like most UT students, they wanted to stay in Austin after graduation. They also had aspirations of starting their own company. For inspiration, they turned to their surroundings.
Whether it’s been two years since you’ve graduated or 20, you probably haven’t forgotten that college students take the path of least resistance when it comes to clothing choices. (I will confess to wearing pajamas more than once to an early lecture.) A step up from pajamas is t-shirts: they're huge in college. University organizations hand them out for just about anything, from events to fundraisers, and students snatch them up. Freeman and Hiller took notice of the popularity and tried to give the tee a unique spin.
They decided to take American Apparel t-shirts and add custom pockets to each one. Freeman hand-sewed the first batch, which sold out quickly across their network of friends. As the tees started to catch on, they made more and more. Finally, they realized they had found their business. They came up with a brand, Chuck & Jake, and a motto: “Everyone deserves a pocket.” With the launch of a website, they were official.
Since 2009, Chuck & Jake has worked to grow its collection. Last year, the company teamed up with Parts & Labour to sell their apparel in-store. In 2012, they plan on expanding to other local Austin boutiques. Until then, all of their tees are available on their website, where you can also read their blog and find news about upcoming events.
Chuck & Jake will be releasing their fall line soon, debuting it at local creative collective Public School. They wouldn't disclose specifics about the line, but they did share some preview photos, seen above, and said that they plan on adding hats to the mix, as well as a collegiate line for Texas and other universities.