Sun file photo from 1982
In the early 1980s, Bremerton child chic included acid-washed
jeans, double slouched socks — and Charly B sweatshirts.
It was Bremerton’s hometown brand during a time of brand-logo
mania and when there were department stores and lots of people
Local kids saved allowances and begged their parents for the
shirts. An elementary school had a Charly B day. The shirts popped
up in spots across the country, though they were sold only in
Maybe it’s because some things from the ’80s (I said
some) are trendy again. Maybe Bremerton pride is back. Or
maybe its because those ’80s kids are old enough to be
Whatever it is, Charly B shirts are back.
A few shirts are appearing around town and being shipped off to
former Kitsap residents across the country.
But before we get into that, a little background on the
They are the creation of longtime businessman Chuck Bair, who
sold them first at a clothing store he owned with his wife, Patty,
on Pacific Avenue, across from JC Penny — when there still was a JC
Chuck had created the logo, a doodled script, for their retail
store and eventually printed shirts that he sold there and later at
stores in Redwood Plaza and the South Kitsap Mall.
Nearly 70,000 shirts sold in the four years the Charly B
clothing stores were open.
But then the Kitsap Mall happened to downtown Bremerton.
“We were one of the first ones to leave because we saw the
writing on the wall,” Patty said. And they didn’t have the capital
to open a store in the mall, Chuck said.
And with the Charly B stores went the Charly B shirts.
Since that time, the couple focused on other businesses: their
property management business; Patty ran franchise Baskin-Robbins
ice cream stores; they briefly opened an Ivar’s in Redwood Plaza;
and in 2006, they opened Kitsap Lake Storage.
All the while, people kept asking about the shirts. They’d
regale the couple with memories of their shirts, remembering even
So the Bairs started printing them again and as people asked for
more, they printed more. They lined the shelves of an office room
with shirts in multiple colors. They put out a sign in front of
Kitsap Lake Storage, “and lo and behold it’s taken off again,”
Some thanks for recent demand goes to online social
One fan created a “Charly B. Resurrection”
group on Facebook and news of the shirts’ comeback was posted on
the wall of the Facebook group “I Can’t Believe
I grew up in Kitsap County in the 80′s”, which has 1,700
members. They’ve referred to it as “AWESOME,” with exclamation
points and called it a “great blast from the past.” One person
wrote, “are y’all for real? i’ve been wanting another one. to match
my black w/ multi-colored lettering Esprit tote bag that i am STILL
rockin’ after all these years ”
In April, the Bairs put up a web site to sell
the shirts and post old photos and memories from customers.
About 400 to 500 have sold.
LeAnn Williams worked in the clothing stores as a young adult,
and now works at the storage facility.
“Who’d have thought 30 years later I’d be folding Charly B
sweatshirts (again)?” she exclaimed.
The shirts’ renewed success may not portend the return of Charly
B clothing stores.
“I think it still has potential,” Chuck said, though he said he
doesn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it. “Right now
its a fun sideline.”
“We’ll just see where it goes. We’ve mad e a little investment
in it again. Its not about making money, its about bringing
something back that was important to a lot of people.”
— Angela Dice