Portland apparel company repping Blazers, Timbers opens first store

Portland-based sportswear company opens store

A Portland graphic designer who broke away from the big sportswear companies to start his own business is about to open his first brick and mortar clothing store.

Grafletics started from love of sports, and now it's taken off to love of state.

Take a look around Grafletics' new storefront at 1620 SE Claybourne St. in West Moreland, and the heart of Oregon is all around.

Whether it's paying homage to iconic Mt. Hood on hats and sweatshirts, to celebrating the year 1975, when the Timbers were originally formed, or putting California in it's place, geographically-speaking, with a logo that says "Oregon is Above California;" Grafletics is about pride in your place.

"The idea is, we kind of make things for the community here, but we also make things for people who have moved and want to represent a piece of home," said Grafletics founder and owner Rick Gilbert.

The graphic designer has worked with the big guys like Keen, Columbia Sportswear and Under Armour. Then three years ago, he tried something on the side. He spent $500 to make five different styles of his own shirts. They sold out in a Portland boutique so fast, he knew he had something special.

"I'm like, people are responding to this thing, there isn't a whole lot of marketing involved in it, it's literally just the product and a lot of people don't know that, but this is a brand that was built by Portland," Gilbert said.

Up until now, Grafletics apparel and accessories has only been for sale at Made in Oregon stores, the U.S. Outdoor store in downtown Portland, Grand Marketplace on Southeast Grand, Boys Fort on Southwest Morrison and at Grafletics.com. It's done so well that Gilbert decided to go brick and mortar.

His customer is a sports fan who loves the community. People have gravitated to his simple but unique designs that can easily be worked into their wardrobe.

"People want to represent themselves. They don't necessarily want to represent a brand," he said.

But if the brand is yourself, it's hard not to. Damian Lillard is a fan, and has taken pictures wearing the T-shirts that bear his name. One of the most popular right now in election season, is a t-shirt that reads "Lillard McCollum '16" with stars and stripes, resembling a political sign.

"If I make a design for Dame, I'm going to send him a shirt," Gilbert said.

Grafletics has the blessing of the Trailblazers organization and the Timbers, selling the gear in their team stores. And now this Portland start up has a retail home. It's come a long way from Rick Gilbert's garage.

Thursday Nov. 3 is the official grand opening of the store. Former Blazer Brian Grant will be there signing autographs from 6 to 7 p.m.


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