Political conventions are hardly a hotbed of haute couture, but what people choose to wear at them -- from the simplest of screened T-shirts to the most larded-up logo-wear -- speaks just as loudly and profoundly as any runway confection. A recent case in point: one of the T-shirts commissioned for last weekend’s California Democratic convention in Anaheim.
For a Friday night event presented by the California Young Democrats, organizers ordered 500 T-shirts and tote bags bearing the words “Turn Up” (a reference to the slogan “Turn Up for Turnout”) on one side and the letters “CDY” (the group’s initials) on the front, each accompanied by an arrow and star graphic. (They also made 50 T-shirts with “Newsom” printed on one side and “California” on the other for the lieutenant governor.) The message wasn’t in the logo, though, but the accompanying label was marked with a simply, stylized “22.”
That’s short for Road Twenty-Two, the San Francisco-based brand tapped to make the T-shirts, and a name that references the road leading from the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, the largest female correctional facility in the state. Co-founded by Fif Ghobadian and Alice Larkin Cahan in November, the aim of the fledgling company is to help women who have been incarcerated (or homeless or suffering from substance abuse), transition into stable, full-time employment. The logos on the convention tees and totes, for example, were created by one of the in-house designers, Kerrigan Walthen, whose own route to the company included drug and alcohol abuse starting at age 11, and being a homeless graffiti artist at the age of 15.
FOR THE RECORD
May 19, 10:43 a.m.: An earlier version of this article identified the women's prison in Chowchilla as Chowchilla State Prison. It is the Central California Women's Facility.
With the three-day convention in Anaheim now wrapped, the company is making a limited number of the T-shirts available via its website, road22.com (click on the tab that says “commissioned work”), for $68 each.
For the latest in fashion and style news, follow me @ARTschorn on Twitter