It's one thing to be proud of the place you're from, and it's another to wear that place like a badge of honor.
Bobby J. Hodge, founder of the local fashion company City Chapters, has taken that idea to its most logical conclusion. Inspired by hip-hop fashion and urban streetwear, Hodge makes custom jackets with the name of the wearer's home city emblazoned on the back in big block letters.
"It connects with people because of the city aspect," Hodge explains. "If they like streetwear fashion and they love their city, and they see one of my jackets, it's going to connect with them."
Hodge, 30, was born in Denver and grew up in Medical Lake, and says he's always been interested in fashion. In fact, he was voted Best Dressed in high school. But he was often in trouble as a teenager and a young adult, and he spent six months in jail following a bar fight when he was 21.
"I was gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, my birthday. I missed all those important things in life in that six months, and I got a good taste of what it's like to be locked away from the world," he says. "I needed to go to jail. I needed to learn some lessons. And when I came out, everybody knew I was different."
In 2011, Hodge wanted to get his act together and launched a clothing line called 3rd Kind Apparel, with designs revolving around the number three. The idea for City Chapters came shortly thereafter, when Hodge read about a T-shirt line that featured graphics of Toronto subway stops. Hodge started City Chapters officially in early 2017, turning his customers into walking billboards for their hometowns.
Ordering a City Chapters jacket is a simple process: Customers can currently choose between four different styles of nylon coach's jackets, and then customize it with the name of any city they want. Hodge makes the jackets by request in the basement of his South Hill home, printing the lettering onto sheets of vinyl and then pressing them onto the jacket with an industrial iron. Each jacket runs $75 and can be ordered online at citychapters.com.
Six months in, Hodge had already been contacted by the national skating apparel company Zumiez, commissioning a large order of jackets. He's also had product stocked at local men's clothing store Kingsley & Scout. Rapper Lil Jon has ordered an Atlanta jacket, which he's worn in concert, and Chewelah-native R&B singer Allen Stone has a Spokane jacket.
"I've sent a jacket to every continent except Antarctica," he says.
Hodge hopes to eventually give a portion of his profits to the same at-risk youth charities that helped him out when he was in dire straits. For now, though, he's cranking out City Chapter jackets one at a time, in between his regular gig as a freelance graphic designer.
The purpose of the line goes back to that idea of connection and hometown pride, Hodge says: What better way to advertise that "Spokane doesn't suck" than repping it on your clothes?
"For a long time, people were like, 'I hate living here.' And I dealt with that, too," Hodge says.
"But I see the potential of what Spokane can be. I just went to Ireland in November, and I was wearing one of my Spokane jackets over there, and I probably met 10 to 12 people just because I was wearing my jacket. It just causes that connection." ♦