Proud Townees Offer Westport Wear

Last summer, Ted Vergakis was on vacation in California. He saw someone wearing a simple T-shirt, with 2 words in beautiful script: “King’s Highway.”

Ted’s a Westporter. He had no idea what the shirt referred to. It could have been “a San Diego biker gang,” for all he knew.

No matter. He wanted one.

His oldest son Theo went to Kings Highway Elementary  School. His youngest son Alecko is a student there now. The family calls it “a special place,” and seeing those words crafted on a T-shirt seemed both cool and rare.

Ted realized that though there are places to buy things that say “Westport,” they don’t feel as if they were created specifically for here.

Ted and Stephanie Vergakis.

Ted and Stephanie Vergakis.

So he and his wife Stephanie decided to create a hand-drawn script for Westport, and a unique illustration that can’t be found anywhere else in town.

This was not a total stretch for the couple — but not exactly what they’d been planning either.

Both grew up in small Massachusetts towns. Both started their careers in advertising, managing creative departments and producing campaigns.

Stephanie went on to work in fashion, at Donna Karan. Ted spent several years running the global creative group at IMG — with clients like the Olympics, NCAA, sports stars and models.

Now they run their own studio, called Offmad. They provide creative and strategic support to clients like Kayak.com, PwC, Vroom and others.

Ted and Stephanie's Westport hoodie.

Ted and Stephanie’s Westport hoodie.

Their route to Westport — via Manhattan and Hoboken — was similar to others’. When they felt the need for more space, and realized the commute would be longer, they wanted someplace special.

“More of a destination, not just a suburban town,” is how Ted describes it.

Work colleagues suggested Westport. On weekend trips here, Ted and Stephanie “pretty much knew it was the perfect place.” They loved it all: seeing houses in the morning, then lunch at the Mansion Clam House, a trip to the Compo Beach playground, a stop at Trader Joe’s.

“We were really taken by how much at home Westport made us feel,” Ted says.

“It felt very New England and familiar. We both loved where we grew up and vacationed — Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard. Westport really reminded us of all those special things from home.”

But — like most Westporters — when Ted had his aha! T-shirt moment, he also realized that Main Street has become flooded with retailers that do not offer anything authentic and Westport-special.

So he and Stephanie decided to partner with skilled designers and illustrators. They wanted to celebrate their town, and the artists who created its legacy.

Townee's sparkling Saugatuck Bridge t-shirt.

Townee’s sparkling Saugatuck Bridge t-shirt.

Creating the sparkling Saugatuck Bridge illustration for their “Townee” apparel — which now includes short- and long-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies, fleeces and rally caps, for adults, kids and toddlers — was particularly important.

“I don’t think there’s a soul in town who doesn’t love the way the bridge looks during the holidays,” Ted says. “It’s perfect from every view — from 95, driving over it, walking through it.”

As for the company name, Ted says, “We think being called a townee is a compliment — a badge of honor. It’s someone who knows the best things to do, see, when to go places.

“Loving where you live makes you a townee. We all spend so much time  here doing normal day-to-day things. We want to remind others of how special Westport is.”

Their reminder: a line of high-quality apparel that’s comfortable, can be worn every day, and shows the pride people have in their town.

Townee launched last month. You may already have seen folks wearing Ted and Stephanie’s gear.

Just call them townees.

(Ted and Stephanie offer free delivery to all addresses. For more information — including ordering — click here.)

30 responses to “Proud Townees Offer Westport Wear

  1. Nice designs….but what’s a “townee”? When I went to college, townies (with the ie) were local teenagers who harassed, and occasionally beat-up, college students.

    • A “townee” is a slick and flashy male city dweller who is unfamiliar with country life, of course. Must be British!

  2. Loretta Santella Hallock

    Great shirts. I would love to have one. The Westport Historical Society also has a great little gift shop that not many people are aware of.
    Peter, what I think of a “townie” is someone like me who grew up in Westport and went to Staples. Or perhaps anyone who has lived here for more than 20 years?

  3. From a Loooong Time Local….. LOVE IT!

  4. The original Bridge tee shirt was designed, created and produced by Westport residents to publize the efforts to preserve the then 100 year old bridge. https://preservewestport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Preserve-the-Bridge-TShirt-e1459260540915-768×1024.jpeg
    All the money collected went to preservation.

    • This is awesome. Thank you for sharing! We just launched in mid- December and are starting to think of a good cause to align Townee.us with. Maybe one that helps Westport directly, another community, or a cause we feel needs more support. More to come.

    • Werner, Are they still available for purchase? I love it.

      • I tried in vain to find the original silk screens at the request of our preservationists. I’m told there is a cache of them in East Norwalk. They would be 40 years old. Maybe someone who unearths some will post it.

        • We can but hope. Even the font makes me happy. Just recently I rehung the old Migsy Burroughs/ Nelson Katz “We Make People Happy” Ice cream cone from that long ago Baskin Robbins contest. The art of the 70s is really singing to me these days.

  5. Love the bridge, baby!

  6. Love the bridge t-shirt. As for the term “townie” (never saw it spelled “townee”) I proudly refer to myself as one, and don’t consider it a slur. Perhaps in those towns where it is viewed as somewhat embarrassing to be a local (like a rural college town) it might have a negative slant, but that dynamic is not present here. I’ll even show you the secret townie handshake if you qualify . . .

    Next topic – how long must you live in Westport before you can claim to be a “townie” – or can you only qualify if you were raised here?

  7. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    Love the shirts.

  8. Thank you Loretta and Amy for pointing out that not only does Westport Historical Society have Westport wear but a whole shop of Signature Westport items made especially for Westport, CT and some with local photos taken by local photographers and artists.

    Barbara Peck
    Assitant Director, WHS

  9. Just sent some to LA!!!

  10. Sally Campbell Palmer

    Very nice! And a good price, too. Thanks from another old time Townee!

  11. Bought one for myself and the hubby. Would love to connect with you Ted, we own a brand design agency (little big brands) and I feel like OffMad might be a good fit for some needs we encounter.

  12. Ted and Stephanie, Very Cool! My wife gave me one of your shirts with the bridge for Christmas. I love it. She was doubly impressed because you delivered it right to the house. You should know that the bridge is in the State DOT’s crosshairs for destruction. A group of us, your fellow “Townies”, are fighting to preserve it. Please check out our website and consider signing up to get our email updates. We would appreciate your involvement. Best John F. Suggs http://WWW.preservewestport.com

    • Amen

    • Hi John. Yes, I’ve read all about that. I’m with you when it comes to preserving the bridge. It’s a symbol of the town and we should all do whatever we can to keep it here. I’ve signed up – Stephanie and I look forward to fighting the fight with you all. Thanks for everything you, Helen, Wendy and Morley have done so far!

  13. Luisa Francoeur

    The bridge design is quite lovely. Have you considered an additional design or two, such as the Minuteman statue and/or the cannons at the beach? They are both iconic and I have never seen either of them in another location.

    • Hmmm. Maybe the town or state (depending on the icon) could trademark the image and license it…Pebble Beach posts the following in the path to its famous tree…”Photographs or art renderings of the Lone Cypress for commercial or promotional purposes cannot be taken or created without written permission from Pebble Beach Company.”

    • We’d love to do more designs! Westport is a beautiful place so there’s plenty to work with!

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