The company’s name — Newfoundland Clothing Company — is as simple as their mandate: make “clothing that speaks of home.” Their first line of clothing is available on their website: a series of baseball tees, for men and women, adorned in hand-drawn local sayings like “What Odds” and “Gotter Scald.”
“They also come with a beautifully embroidered Newfoundland Flag, with the definition of the saying screen-printed on the inside of the shirt,” says Smeaton
For James, “the process of making a shirt began by identifying which phrases are the best blend of uniqueness to Newfoundland, and the likelihood of someone relating to the phrase.” He says people can express themselves through the shirts they choose.
“Someone wearing a shirt that says ‘Fine Kettle of Fish’ says a lot about who that person is, which is to say you might be a bit complicated, or often find yourself in troublesome situations. The shirts also make statements about life and one’s philosophy towards it.”
He says “Between The Jiggs And The Reels” suggests that a person “believes in overcoming adversity and getting things done.” Newfoundlanders define themselves with their language, he says.
The idea came from a language barrier with his mainlander wife. “She would tell me that she could not understand what I was saying when I used Newfoundland slang in a knee-jerk response to a situation. It was actually the expression What Odds that got the whole idea going because she had no clue what it meant and I looked at her like she had two heads.”
When he started researching existing products, he found “a real lack of authentic, artistic, and unique clothing that was actually produced in Newfoundland.” So he put his background in business, design, and internet marketing to use and “built a team of all-star talent.”
The shirts are produced by Papa John’s Print & Graphics in Gander, a business owned and operated by two brothers who were his neighbours on the street James grew up on. Their background, conveniently, was in apparel, and in Smeaton’s words, they’re “unmatched with over forty years of experience.”
For the hand-drawn sayings, he commissioned a local artist who specialized in typography. “We are a province of characters and I wanted to build a shirt that honors that character, moreover I believe this company has only begun to fulfill that mission.
The shirts will be done in limited runs. “Each shirt has a unique production number embroidered on it above the flag, and once the first NL001’s are gone, you will never see those exact shirts ever again. It’s a great opportunity for collectors, and an even better way to Rock Your Pride.”
They hope to expand the number of phrases to twenty before November in order to give customers more range of choice when they are considering holiday gifts.