Photo by Jay Paul
From left: Walker Wood and Kelley Blanchard in their Jackson Ward space
The organic cotton for New Normal Apparel’s T-shirts is harvested in Pennsylvania before it is shipped to Long Island, New York, to be milled, cut and sewn into the fair-trade apparel that is then delivered to Jackson Ward and screen-printed with local artists’ designs in eco-friendly ink.
“We do our homework,” executive creative director Kelley Blanchard says of the investigative process that goes into selecting every item sold in her 1,200-square-foot shop. Blanchard, 26, met co-owner Walker Wood in a sculpture class as an art student at Virginia Commonwealth University. The pair shared a vision of opening a workshop, art gallery and retail space where local artists could create and sell their work.
“We want to put Jackson Ward on the map as a great place for arts and culture and as a place for young artists to work,” says Wood, 25. “There’s room for growth.” In December 2013, Blanchard and Wood teamed with four other friends to open the airy space on the corner of East Clay and Third streets.
Every month, the team selects a local artist to design two T-shirt prints — one that is Richmond-centered and one of the artist’s choosing. The artist is then featured in an exhibition during the First Fridays art walk and profiled on the store’s website. In November, local photographer Peter Beliaev will be the featured artist, and his photographs will be printed on the shirts. “It’s going to be different than anything we’ve ever done,” Wood says.
In addition to T-shirts, New Normal sells cut-and-sew clothing for men and women as well as locally made jewelry and accessories. It launched the first line of all-wood sunglasses to be produced and sold on the East Coast in July. Crafted by a team of woodworkers in Scott’s Addition, styles cost between $120 and $250 and are named after Richmond landmarks such as Belle Isle and Manchester. “People love to represent their city here,” Wood says. “Richmond is the perfect place for this.” 728-2778 or newnormalapparel.com.