Maryland O’s and Natty Bohs
While losing a job may cause a lot of people to give up, it inspired Ali von Paris to start a trend.
In 2010, von Paris founded Route One Apparel after losing her job at a bar.
She said she got the idea for Route One, an online store at the forefront of the Maryland pride trend, when she and a friend designed a shirt to support the bar she worked for before it went out of business.
When the shirt sold, she decided to design shirts for the University of Maryland College Park community. From there, she went on to design products that emulate Maryland pride.
“After three or four designs, we ended up starting to do things incorporating the Maryland flag. And then immediately we realized how popular that was so then we kind of just stuck to it,” von Paris said.
Route One Apparel offers clothing and accessories that von Paris described as, in a nutshell, state pride, community pride and collegiate pride. Some of the products are focused specifically on Baltimore.
“When we originally designed the Ravens, Bohs, Crabs and O’s shirt, that was probably one of our most popular ones,” von Paris said.
In fact, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker recently tweeted a photo wearing Route One products, she said.
And he is one of many. Von Paris said that the company ships around 200-400 products per day.
Junior Skyler Jenkins owns many Route One products, from running shorts to sunglasses.
“I have knee socks that say Maryland down the side, Maryland flag shorts, Maryland flag shades, a Maryland flag Kronum jersey and even a Maryland flag speedo,” Jenkins said.
He wears it to show pride in his club sport, Kronum, which he started here in Maryland. But Skyler’s motivation to represent his club is one of many reasons that students are increasingly showing their pride.
“I see a lot of people wearing the Maryland flag shorts because they make you stand out in a crowd,” Jenkins said.
Even though sophomore Edward Chestnut isn’t originally from Maryland, he still sports Maryland-themed gear, such as having the state’s colors taped on his lacrosse sticks.
“I think Maryland has more pride than other states. I used to live in New York when I was little, but then I moved to Maryland. We definitely have more pride here,” Chestnut said.
Von Paris said that part of the trend is due to the appearance of the Maryland flag.
“But I think that our flag is extremely cool and it’s also unique because if you look at a lot of other state flags, they’re not at all as cool as ours,” she said.
And the success of Maryland sports teams helps as well.
“Sports is very mixed in with the pride of a state. If the teams are doing well, then you really like your state,” von Paris said, citing the Ravens’ Super Bowl win as a contributing factor.
Another factor in the growth of Maryland pride is social media.
“It’s kind of just been like a big growing event just because we rely heavily on social media and also the way we promote is through people sharing our products with their friends so it keeps have an exponential effect on our growth,” von Paris said.
Von Paris said that the trend started with college students, but has recently grown to encompass more than just students.
“Definitely adults, obviously adults are buying for us. I would say a lot of moms are buying for their kids. I have also noticed that a lot of corporations are buying in bulk our product to give to their employees,” von Paris said. “And I also noticed, we just had an event this weekend, a lot of our customers were little kids. So yeah, state pride is everywhere and all kinds of ages are doing it.”
Jenkins said he has observed this expansion himself.
“I have seen many adults wear the Maryland flag tie and I recently gave my dad my Maryland flag shoes and he rocks them all the time,” he said.
Jenkins said he hopes that Maryland pride is more than just a trend.
“[I] just hope people don’t overdo it like they do for every other trend,” he said.
But von Paris said she has faith in the people of Maryland.
“I’ve noticed that there are a lot of really prideful people of this state,” she said. “Whether they like the politics or not, they really like this state.”
–Brandon Wharton contributed to this article.