There’s something timeless about a T-Shirt, and Beachmont designer Regan Smith Clarke has captured history once again in his newest T-Shirt designs.
After two years in business, Clarke said he continues to make the rounds at shows around the country and is finding marked success in chasing his dream.
“I’ve been through everything from A to Z, all ranges of emotions,” said Clarke, who started his business two summers ago. “There are nights when I’m exhausted or times when I have a tough month of sales, but I have to remember it’s the ebb and flow of things. It’s then that I have to remember I’m working towards something I have dreamt about. It’s my life now.”
Clarke, 28, grew up in Beachmont and attended Revere schools, graduating from Revere High School in 2002. After graduating Merrimack College, he began working as a graphic designer – something he still does to help pay the bills. However, in 2010, he decided to put his designs on T-Shirts and start his own personal brand, called Regan Smith Clarke Clothing Company.
Since that time, he said he has attended designer shows regularly in Boston, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago.
Likewise, he has landed retail accounts with stores in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and, recently, Omaha.
That, combined with his immense online presence, has contributed to growing success for his company and his brand. He said part of the allure is that he sells a product that is accessible and popular on its own. Adding his throwback designs make the T-shirts have a unique, artistic edge – something he said more and more people are looking for these days.
“I always felt T-Shirts are really easy for people to express themselves with,” he said. “It might be cliché, but I really feel people define themselves nowadays by what they wear. The other side of it is T-Shirts are cheap; everyone has them and I don’t think they’re going to go out of style soon. I consider T-Shirts accessible art. It’s much different than something hanging in a gallery, but I would argue that designed T-Shirts are probably the most accessible art there is.”
Following that artistic edge, Clarke released a new summer line of shirts recently that borrows from the nose art of planes that flew in World War II.
During the war, he said, crews from air companies adopted drawings that became unofficial mascots. Many times, those mascots were painted onto the front of the planes flying into combat. Clarke said he always looks to the past for his designs, and this subject matter really hit home for him on a personal and artistic level.
“My grandfather just passed last year and we were close and he was a Korean War Vet,” said Clarke. “So, every time I see these I think of him. Vintage art like this is timeless and has that rustic feel to it. To me, it feels World War II was clearly a justified war and you could make the argument that was the last truly justified war. It was a very patriotic time.”
Likewise, he said one mascot design in particular spoke to him – the Lone Wolf.
“I do like the Lone Wolf best, for me personally,” he said. “I feel like I’m a contrast by nature. If I see someone doing something, I like to do the opposite. The idea is to do your own thing and stay hungry.”
And in his business, that’s exactly what he’s done in the last two years.
Clark said that his enormous online presence took off in March 2011 when his brand won an online ‘March Madness’ design contest. The contest featured 64 designers – just like the NCAA basketball tournament – and each designer went head-to-head with online voters deciding the winner.
Winning that major contest, he said, drove his online presence way up.
“Winning that definitely put me on the map a little bit,” he said. “You have 64 T-Shirt brands competing and it drove people to my website to make purchases. One of the things we’ve really worked hard at is developing our social media profile. We are a small company and have to take advantage of every opportunity. That has included having a strong presence in all social media outlets.”
Businesswise, he said that the tough economy hasn’t cut into the growth of his company, particularly because people might be turning away from more expensive designer items and towards something more affordable like a designer T-Shirt.
“The down economy hasn’t hurt me as much as something more high-end,” he said. “I’m selling T-Shirts and a bad economy hasn’t really affected me in a way where someone won’t spend $20 for a T-Shirt at a show.”
And speaking of shows, Clarke said he spends a great deal of his time travelling around the country to get his name and his brand out to the public. This September, he’ll be closer to home at the Boston Arts Festival – a major show for him.
For more information on Clarke’s company or to take a look at his new line of shirts, go online to.