In STL-Style, The Vines Brothers Stand Proudly For A 'Work-in-Progress' City
On the corner of Cherokee and Compton sits a building that screams STL pride. From the giant city flag painted above the door, to the “Saint F—-ing Louis” shirts displayed in the window, STL-Style isn’t afraid to wear hometown pride on its screen-printed sleeves. Twin brothers, Randy and Jeff Vines, are well-known in the community—most notably for their t-shirts, stickers, posters and very pun-ny underwear celebrating their beloved city and its distinctive neighborhoods, landmarks and colloquialisms.
“Our initial inspiration was to give people from St. Louis—whether they live here or not—a cool, stylish way to represent their city,” Randy explains as we look around the shop. From the simpler, early shirt graphics to more recent additions like “St. Louis is so000 gay!” (in celebration of marriage equality), the brothers are deeply connected to their city and strive to spread their passion to the wider world.
While the exterior may look like a common city storefront, upon closer inspection you’ll realize it’s much more than that: It’s a place that brings the community together and sparks conversation over something we can appreciate. “We purposely chose Cherokee Street because it brings people out of their comfort zone and makes them come to a street they might not normally have a reason to explore. Cherokee is kind of a microcosm of St. Louis—it’s raw and unfiltered, and the kind of place you really just need to experience to fully appreciate,” Jeff explains as Randy nods in agreement.
And it’s easy to see why people respond so well to the STL-Style vibe. Everything about the shop and the brand embodies the St. Louis spirit. not the expected touristy stuff, but the urban grittiness, the personal engagement with the STL-Style team, the random encounters with characters on Cherokee Street, are what Randy believes helps sell their products.
“With any small business, you have to also walk the walk because there are a million people who could make cool t-shirts, but you can’t replicate the soul of a place like this. We aim to provide a little slice of what inspires us about St. Louis, so that we can turn our customers into ambassadors with STL gear they’re excited to show off, and keep them coming back.”
And keep coming back, they do. You can’t go anywhere in the city without seeing some of STL-Style’s designs–“Fo’ Chouteau” being a fan-favorite. Reading the catchy slogans on the shirts, you almost have to be a St. Louisan to catch the meaning, and it’s that unique local flavor that makes St. Louis so great.
“There are some cities that just lay it all out there and don’t make you search for what makes them cool. And then there are cities like St. Louis, that are more weathered and nuanced and you have to peel away the layers to get to know it intimately. And usually, it grows on you. I would say that 99 percent of the visitors we get in the shop—and we get a ton of visitors from all over the world-—we cannot express how many people are just blown away by this city,” Randy explains.
The brothers’ passion for the city is something that radiates through them. Yet, despite being unabashed advocates for the Gateway City, they are both realistic about its flaws, “We recognize our shortcomings. St. Louis is far from perfect and no city is perfect, we know that. But no other city gives us the same sense of purpose or gratification, and that’s why we chose to come back here after college and make it happen here,” Jeff states. “We like the challenge of being part of a work in progress. That’s what St. Louis really is.”
And how right they are. While there have been some recent high-profile setbacks for the city, St. Louis continues to grow and evolve into an amazing city that sets it apart from just about any place else. Randy continues, “St. Louis was built to be one of the greatest cities in the nation, and despite its obvious decline over the years, it always has that standard to live up to. We’d like to think that STL-Style is helping to renew the city’s self-esteem.”
Pick up your copy of the Good Vibes issue at STL-Style today.
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