Year-old design company modernizes Michigan's image
High Five Threads is seeking to enhance typical Michigan souvenirs by making them more hip and contemporary. To move away from clothing and designs that co-founder Byron Pettigrew says are only worn when people are working out, High Five Threads
is representing the state of Michigan with interesting designs and a strictly local attitude. This, co-founder Byron Pettigrew hopes, will inspire people’s pride in Michigan as tourists but also residents.
"We kind of got tired of seeing Michigan portrayed as being a whole bunch of lakes and fishing," Pettigrew says. "While that’s a lot of our culture up here, there is a lot more cool stuff going on. It’s a great place to live, but a lot of people aren’t seeing that.
The cool stuff that Pettigrew refers to--like breweries, wineries and unique outdoor activities--are the things that he and his business partner Lance Hill are using in their designs. The company was an off-shoot of their initial business, Lit Image Marketing and Design
, but High Five Threads was so successful that the front of their office became a retail space and the Lit Images office is now the size of a closet space, Pettigrew says.
High Five Threads sells T-shirts, sweatshirts, children’s clothes, buttons and more all with some type of Michigan design on them. But what also makes High Five Threads unique besides its designs is its insistence in staying Michigan-made. Pettigrew says that there isn’t a Michigan company that makes T-shirts so the actual T-shirt they get is from another US company, though everything else about the process is done in Michigan, including the printing of the images.
High Five Threads also sells other products as long as it fits into two categories: Michigan-themed and Michigan-made. Those products include Michigan-shaped cookie cutters or Michigan ice cube trays. Also to support local businesses, High Five Threads has Shorts Brewing Company or North Peak Brewing Company beer on tap and some Michigan wines available.
"Folks who are browsing or if they want to just come in and chat, they are welcome to do that too. That’s part of our support local idea," Pettigrew says.
Pettigrew says that this localized atmosphere that he feels in Michigan, especially in Traverse City where he lives, is one of the best things about Michigan because communities "are coming together to show what an awesome state we have." Pettigrew hopes that by creating Michigan-centered clothes that support local and are fun to wear, Michigan will start to be represented for all of the things that he loves about it.
"Michigan is the only place we want to live, it’s the absolute best place to live and we wanted to show that. To show our home-state pride on our sleeve is something that we absolutely wanted to do," Pettigrew says. "Michigan is one of the most unique states in the country and one of the most unique places in the entire world because of lakes, beaches, beer and wine. The list is endless."
Lucy Hough is a history student at Northern Michigan University and former editor in chief of the student newspaper, the North Wind.