Wear Your Pride, One Loon at a Time

Few places can top the tiny town of Hayward, Wis., for Spencer Barrett.

“Some of the best times of my life were up at the cabin,” said Barrett, 23. “I’ve been fortunate to travel all around the world, but Hayward, Wis., is still probably my favorite place because of the memories.”

That unique north woods way of escaping to the lakes is a lifestyle Barrett and his friend David Burke wanted to celebrate. But with few existing options available to wear their Midwest pride, the duo decided to create their own apparel line, Great Lakes Collection.

“When you hear a loon call, you stop and pay attention to it. We like to think the Great Lakes Collection would get a similar response.”
Spencer Barrett


With a successful Kickstarter campaign backing their year-old company (they raised more than $24,000), the friends are about to take another step ahead by ditching wholesale t-shirts and partnering with two North Carolina manufacturers to create a custom line of apparel.

“We both just graduated college, are broke and kind of living on the edge a little bit,” Barrett said. “We started with just an idea, and to see an actual market for it and [have] the ability to go to this cut and sew is pretty rewarding.”

From the weight of the cotton to the color of the shirt, Burke and Barrett won’t be limited by the minimal stock their wholesale manufacturer carried. With newfound creative control, crewneck sweatshirts and long-sleeved tees with pockets are in Great Lakes’ future.

Great Lakes landed its first retail spot at Brightwater Clothing & Gear in Excelsior, Minn. You can also find them through Minneapolis-based online store, William Rogue & Co.

“At the ground level, what we’re really doing is celebrating the Midwest,” Burke said.

After all, what could be better than spreading that love of the lakes?


Burke and Barrett at their manufacturing plant in Chicago that creates their Hudson polo.