Over here at The IND, we thought everyone who was anyone had a Parish Ink T-shirt by now. Not to say it's old news, but maybe it proves that we live in a little Downtown bubble when we say our perception is the Lafayette cityscape has been be-decked to the point of saturation by the apparel company’s line of Acadiana wearables. Folks looking to display proudly their love of zydeco, plate lunches, I-10 or Drew Brees have gobbled these things up. And with good reason. The design work is clever, Lafayette-patriotic and fun.
Apparently, Lafayette’s appetite for the local-flavored merch is insatiable. Later this summer, Parish Ink will open its third location in Lafayette, fourth statewide. The newest location, which partner Tom Brown calls Parish Ink South — though that may not be an official designation — will be next door to Legends Bar in a new shopping strip at 6772 Johnston Street, near the intersection of W. Broussard Road.
Timed around the new opening, Parish Ink will also merge with its longtime Downtown cohabitant Downtown T-Shirts, a screen-printing operation owned by Parish Ink partner Brown. Downtown T-Shirts has long printed the Parish Ink gear, but the merger will allow Brown to offer the design services of Parish Ink’s art department, led by partner Bram Johnson, to his print clients.
“I’m a nuts and bolts production guy,” Brown says. “I’m no artist.”
Downtown T-Shirts primarily trades in client-submitted designs, printing apparel for Lafayette’s churches, camps and companies. There was a time, Brown laments, that he used to print t-shirts for dozens of local rock and roll bands, a trend in decline thanks to the untimely death of the once ubiquitous art form.
(Full disclosure: Downtown T-Shirts has printed IND reporter Christiaan Mader’s band Brass Bed’s t-shirts for years. Also Mader more or less agrees with Brown’s fatal assessment of rock and roll.)
Bran Johnson, his sister and longtime design partner Jillian Johnson and Brown founded Parish Ink in 2011 at its first location in the old Fun Shop on Jefferson Street. The company was one of the first new retailers to move Downtown at a time when the district was still very much in flux, and anchored the return of a once dilapidated block. The company grew to River Ranch — across from Red Arrow, a creative crafts and sundries store founded by Jillian Johnson and her husband Jason Brown — and then later to New Orleans.
Brown expects the latest addition to the Parish Ink family to arrive in September.