Josh Jurrens and his wife are the owners of Hoodthreads, a design company specifically featuring Boston area clothing, including Jamaica Plain. Jurrens, originally from Madison, Wisconsin, now lives in East Boston, and answered some questions about the business.
Q: Are you the owner of Hoodthreads? What made you want to create the company?
A: Yes, my wife and I are the owners of Hoodthreads. The Midwest, where we are both from, is full of very proud states. We love our sports teams, our food, our people and everything that makes our states unique. When we moved to Boston I noticed that the same passion and pride we felt back in the Midwest could be felt in each individual corner of this one single metropolitan area. I had felt this before in Chicago and New York, but was blown away by the amount of neighborhood pride coming out of such a small city. Where other cities had well established brands who proudly displayed their neighborhoods on apparel, Boston didn’t seem to have the same representation. The “Boston” name can be seen on just about everything, but not the neighborhoods that make up the city. We created Hoodthreads to give the residents of Boston’s neighborhoods a way to show off their own unique identity and pride. And, for people who live nearby to show their admiration and support for the Boston neighborhoods they love. But, first and foremost, it’s all about the residents that make up this wonderful city. Boston may be small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in pride.
Josh Jurrens, owner and designer of Hoodthreads, wearing the a Jamaica Plain t-shirt inspired by the 1940 Jamaica Plain High School Track and Field team jersey.
Q: And you’re the designer, too?
A: Yes, and it’s a labor of love. I originally went to school for design and through a series of professional moves I found myself not using my skills anymore. Hoodthreads has been a way for me to get back into design and share my passion with others. It’s a wonderful experience to see the designs change over time as the neighborhoods change and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Q: What items are sold? T-shirts, tank tops and more? Have you thought about expanding to other clothing items? If so, what?
A: Right now Hoodthreads exclusively sells t-shirts and tanks but we’re actively working to expand into other items such as hoodies, totes, and many more styles of short sleeve and long sleeve shirts. We have big plans for the next year and expect to see the apparel selection grow significantly.
Q: How do you come up with your designs? What inspires you?
A: Nothing is better inspiration than the neighborhoods and the people who live there. Certain neighborhoods are known for the food while others specialize in music and others for higher education. Once you get to know what the residents are proud of, what they identify with, that can be used to come up with a design. There are also larger themes that resonate with the city, such as higher education, that is a source of pride that can be used for multiple neighborhoods. The Hoodthreads Collegiate Collection is a perfect example of taking the theme of world-class universities that the city is so proud of and putting that focus on the neighborhoods in which these institutions call home. I also love to look at old archival yearbooks, city records, and old photographs. Very few things are more powerful than nostalgia and bringing back a piece of history to share with today’s world is my favorite piece of inspiration.
Q:Presently you have 13 different neighborhoods of the Boston area (well, Cambridge and Somerville, too), how did you select the locations?
A: I traveled throughout the city for over two years before even attempting to choose these neighborhoods. And, during that time I talked to people and asked where they live, why they like their neighborhood, where would they live if they had the choice, and looked for common themes within each neighborhood. Overwhelmingly these 13 were recognized as the neighborhoods with the most local pride and were considered synonymous with Boston. Looking at other things like social media activity, hashtag mentions, photos geotagged in each neighborhood, all reveal which neighborhoods are most active. But, listening to people and visiting the neighborhoods is the only true way to feel their pride. I’ve since heard from many more people and we are actively working to launch more neighborhoods very soon.
Q: And there’s a Jamaica Plain line. What’s the best-selling Jamaica Plain item?
A: I love designing for Jamaica Plain because the residents are so incredibly proud. There is a rich history in the neighborhood that I think really resonates with the residents, especially now that so many things are changing and so many new faces are moving into the area. This may be why the Hoodthreads Jamaica Plain 1940 T-Shirts are so popular. It’s a timeless design inspired by the 1940 Jamaica Plain High School track and field team jersey that has long since disappeared. It’s a piece of local tradition and pride that I’m trying to bring back to the area. My hope is that as people see the shirts they’ll look for the origin of the design and learn about a piece of neighborhood history.
Q: There’s an Allston t-shirt that says “Keep Allston Shitty” — we don’t want Jamaica Plain to be shitty, but have you thought about slogans for Jamaica Plain? If so, can you share some possibilities?
A: Slogans must come from the neighborhood residents who know and love the area they live in. I could try to come up with a slogan or catch phrase for a neighborhood but it would never work. A slogan works for reasons that people outside the neighborhood will never fully understand. For example, I can’t take credit for the Allston slogan. “Keep Allston Shitty” comes from graffiti that was spray painted on a wall in Allston. Many people see that and think it’s offensive, but I see that as a sign of affection. Why else would you want to keep something the way it is? Calling a lifelong resident from Charlestown a “Townie” works because it caught on with the locals, not because outsiders were using the term or put it on a t-shirt. What I do is give those neighborhoods, those proud residents, a way to show off where they’re from and where they call home. I might use a slogan here and there, but ultimately that slogan belongs to the people of the neighborhood. I use these slogans as design inspiration but i’ll never try to create or promote a slogan that didn’t first come from the neighborhood.
Q: What else should we know about you and/or Hoodthreads?
A: Hoodthreads will be at a few different farmers markets and open markets during the upcoming season! Watch our Twitter or Facebook pages for updates. We can’t wait to get out and meet people, enjoy the markets, and participate in such a wonderful neighborhood tradition.
Editor’s note: Hoodthreads is an advertiser on Jamaica Plain News.