Save America, Buy a T-Shirt

Varsity apparel gets an old-school makeover at Homage.
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The newest location in OTR.
The newest location in OTR.

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

Touting the insignia of your alma mater never gets old—but that college hoodie you’ve had since the ’80s has certainly seen better days. That’s where OTR’s new kid on the block, Homage, comes in: The boutique’s m.o. is vintage-inspired apparel, reimagined and redesigned to be both classically timeless and effortlessly hip.

“Our design team just goes through old books they find, and thrift shops, grabbing old shirts and using those [for inspiration],” says OTR store manager Greg Newman. “When people get a shirt here, we want them to feel like they got a collector’s item, like a cool thrift store find.”

The store’s decor—primarily an eclectic mix of sports memorabilia—summons the glory days, too: The walls are decked in NFL pennants; the shelves lined with Big Red Machine bobbleheads; an NBA Jam arcade game (on free play!) sits along the back wall next to a retro Coke fridge chilling bottles (never cans) of soda.

A retro-inspired tee.
A retro-inspired tee.

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

While Homage’s mainstay of tees, hoodies, sweatpants, and yes, tube socks, skews toward college-themed—more than 25 local colleges are represented, says Newman, from UC to Xavier to UK to Butler—local pro throwbacks are well represented, too. Eric Davis (Reds), Johnny van Benschoten (he’s from Milford), “Ickey Shuffle” (Bengals), and Cyclones tees can be found with a wide variety of bigger names: Gordie Howe hat trick shirts, Jimmy V hoodies emblazoned with “Never Give Up,” and tanks artfully scripted with Dick Vitale catchphrases. Collaborations with U.S. National Parks and ESPN round out the offerings, as well as plenty of good old “Ohio” tees, tanks, hats, and shorts. Everything is made in the USA and printed in Columbus, where Homage is headquartered. “[Part of the appeal] is that once an item is gone, it’s gone,” says Newman. “A lot of people have started to collect them because of that.”

Though Homage as a brand has been around since 2007, until 2010 it only existed online. But over the last five years they’ve opened three stores: two in Columbus and the newest in OTR (which debuted last November). The goal, Newman says, is to eventually be nationwide.

As for a winner emerging in the crosstown rivalry? “I expected UC to sell a lot more than Xavier, but it’s actually been about the same,” Newman admits. “Kentucky sold like crazy because of the NCAA tournament. It’s a toss up.”

Homage, 1232 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 834-7205, homage.com

[Part of the appeal] is that once an item is gone, it’s gone,” says Newman. “A lot of people have started to collect them because of that.”
“[Part of the appeal] is that once an item is gone, it’s gone,” says Newman. “A lot of people have started to collect them because of that.”

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

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