Why New Orleans?
We started Dirty Coast in 2004 to up the ante on what was passing for local apparel. After the storm, our work took on new gravity as the city rallied around shared symbols and a renewed sense of pride. Now—more than 17 years later—we’ve evolved along with our city, becoming both a tourist destination and a local favorite. Our shirts are secret handshakes, game day standards, and Mardi Gras uniforms. They venerate our icons, promote our causes, and celebrate our way of life.
Photo: A photoshoot with friends after our first fashion show at the Republic
400+ of shirt designs later, we’ve honed a distinct voice and fostered real trust with our community. We’ve developed a reputation for knowing where to find the perfect poboy, which dive bars have the best jukeboxes, and which festivals you can’t skip.
Everything we make is a proclamation of love. When you truly love something, you share it with as many people as you can. And so, whether you’re a Charity Baby, a transplant, or simply passing through, Dirty Coast helps you be a New Orleanian wherever you are.
We take our connection to the Crescent City seriously. We invest in local creators, partner with those around us making a difference, and lend a hand whenever we can.
Photo: Blake, the founder of the company, in our new flagship store
You don’t need to be witty to sell t-shirts. Want proof? Take a stroll down Bourbon Street and see what passes for clever: Drunk #1, Drunk #2, and I Put Ketchup on My Ketchup. But to galvanize a motley city under one banner, to revel in its glorious contradictions, to celebrate its hard-won triumphs, and to critique its foibles and hypocrisies—all with t-shirts? That takes some talent. And it’s a challenge we’ve gladly taken on.
AS NATIVES TO NEW ORLEANS, THERE WAS NO BRAND TO REPRESENT US WHEN WE STARTED IN 2005.
We wanted something we would wear to express our connection to the city.
WE HAVE BEEN LUCKY TO BUILD A STRONG COMMUNITY OF FANS SINCE 2005.
Some have gone so far as to tattoo themselves with our designs and phrases.
WE HAVE HELPED RAISE FUNDS THROUGH SHIRT SALES SINCE THE BEGINNING.
WWOZ.ORG has been one of our longest running community partnerships.
It started as a personal need by Blake to wear shirts that would proclaim his love for New Orleans while poking fun at our culture. Working with local designers and illustrators, the first 10 designs were first put up on Cafe Press for sale.
Be a New Orleanian, Wherever You Are
Once the feneral levees and canals failed, the city filled with water and Blake and Susan were displaced to Lafayette. While there Blake designed our "Be a New Orleanian" sticker and printed them fopr when he could return ot the city.
6 weeks later the his neighborhood had resored power and internet so he moved back and began to distribute the stickers at businesses that were open. The response to the sticker is when we knew there could be a greater mission of the company. That shirts can not only express local pride but also raise awareness and funds.
Blake & Patrick
This is the duo who took Dirty Coast to the streets post-Katrina and eventually with our first storefront. The early days were fast, fun and experimental.
We needed images of our first 15 or so shirts so we organized a meet up at the Fly with some good friends. Beer and Daquiris were provided and we ended up with our first promotional images to try and spread awareness.
Our First Public Appearance
Up through Jazz Fest 2006 we had been selling shirts online only. It was Jazz Fest that year when we set up shop in front of a friends house near the track. We handed out free stickers and sold what we could to passers by.
Our First Fundraising Shirt
It was out friendship with Levees.org that led to the design of our first fundraising product. We could design, promote, produce and spread the word about organizations while building a larger audience for both us and our partners.
Our Fashion Shows
We of course used the growing awareness of our brand as an excuse to throw a party. We started having fun fashions shows each year where friends all chipped in to help us put them on.
The Dirty Coast Tattoo Projects
As we saw the growing examples of our fans getting tattos with our designs, we decided to pay for some ourselves and launched or tattoo project. Fans get free tattoos, a local tattoo artist gets a bunch of work and we have fun doing a crazy marketing project. Win. Win Win.
We had this idea to buy a billboard in Atlanta before the Saints game and troll them about their epic Superbowl loss. We raised funds through GoFundMe but then the billboard companies wouldn't let us reserve space due to fears of vandalism. So we pivoted and rested a plan to fly over the city before, during and after the game. Check mate. Your move Atlanta.
We go bigger.
After 16 years on Magazine Street, first with a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop and then one across from Whole Foods, we decided to take a chance and renovate an old building just down the street.
Our team members Price and Cat took the lead and designed and oversaw the buildout out of a new flagship store we are all very proud of and excited everytime a customer sees iot for the first time.
We strive to create t-shirts that transcend the laundry pile.
Our designs aspire to a higher standard than mere recognition, tribalism, or kitsch. At their best, our shirts stoke nostalgia, spark conversation, and make people laugh. They elicit knowing nods at your neighborhood bar and hearty “who dats” in foreign airports.
We make t-shirts because they’re democratic, both in appeal and in execution: everyone wears them, and anyone can make them.
At Dirty Coast, we believe they can be civic-minded too. We are always looking for local partners we can support with a t-shirt. Fundraising tool and conversation starter, a well made shirt is a walking billboard and the wearer the spokesperson.
While we still love making t-shirts, our ambition has us seeking bigger canvases than a screen print can provide. There’s simply too much worth sharing here.We want to write, record, film, and photograph. We want to evangelize our city with whatever tools we can, providing both breadth of interest and depth of understanding to convey our delirious love for New Orleans. With a little help from our friends and collaborators, we can create an online home for knowledge, opinions, and stories that help us love our city better.Here, we can share enthusiasms, give recommendations, and tell tall tales. We can cheerlead, criticize, and engage in a little friendly argument about who we are and what we want from our city. You’ll leave with a new favorite song, a cocktail recipe to try, and a few deep cut facts to share at your next crawfish boil.