For years now, a staple of my relationship gifting has been the humble Houston t-shirt. My husband is a man of simple tastes (unless we're talking about beer), so anytime gifts are exchanged I usually throw in a tee so that in case the rest of the present is a dud, at least he has something he likes. In a pinch I say it's from the dog.
I've actually been banned from giving him any more, as he says he has "enough" T-shirts, as if that's even a thing, but my ardor for giving people tees is undiminished. They're fun, easy to personalize, they almost always mean supporting a local designer, and they're affordable, meaning they make great stocking stuffers or white elephant gifts. There are loads of cool tees in this town, but here's where to find a few of my faves.
This brand doesn't release that many new designs, but the ones they have are hard to resist—the triple Texas is my travel to-go (also my sleeping go-to, my figuratively running to get coffee go-to, etc.). While the tanks may have been designed for guys, they look surprisingly great on women, too.
Okay, the full name of the brand is Fuck Yeah, Houston's Awesome, so from there you should have a good idea of what you're getting here—stuff that might make certain people start looking for pearls to clutch. But even if that's not your style, who could resist a Clutch City tee modeled after a Topo Chico label?
Finally, the T-shirt for the man (or woman) who prefers a collared shirt but likes having something slightly nerdy and inscrutable to wear underneath. Houstorian wares reference local memes (hello, Mattrose), neighborhoods and the Astrodome, but mostly the Astrodome, and as a bonus most designs come in an array of colors. Current favorite: Houston's most under-appreciated landmark, the Niels Esperson building.
For most tee brands, designs for men are the default, making State Line Designs a refreshing exception. The Houston-made line of tees and tanks cover the Texas lifestyle as well as specific shout-outs to H-Town, with font choices, glitter accents and cuts that are feminine and wearable. What could be more cheeky and Houstonian than wearing a tank top declaring "not my first rodeo" to Rodeo Houston in 2017? (Answer: literally nothing.) The makers have posted a notice that they are not currently accepting online orders, but the site has a list of of local markets and events where they'll be selling throughout December.
This is the perfect site for the Houston sports fan that doesn't want to wear the same gear everyone else can pick up at the stadium store, plus a few other local-focused designs. The must-have for this season is a James Harden-inspired "Season's Beardings" long-sleeved tee that will put everyone else's ugly Christmas sweaters to shame.
It was that Polonius guy who first said brevity is the soul of wit, and it must be true, because I can't get over the simple genius of taking the words "Home Town," and turning them into H Town through the magic of typography. There are other keepers in the line, too, not to mention its one of the only local brands creating cool University of Houston gear.
I know, I know, this is a store, not a brand, but owners Carlos and Leila Peraza always have interesting Houston (and non-Houston) tees that I can't find anywhere else.