CP photo by Rebecca Addison
Downtown Pittsburgh will have a new tenant this holiday season. Officially opening on Black Friday, Steel City
, an online clothing and accessories retailer, has taken over the storefront at 625 Smithfield St.
Run by husband and wife team Brandon and Carly Grbach, Steel City sells vintage-inspired shirts, sweatshirts, hats and more. And all of their wares celebrate Pittsburgh.
"It's mostly '60s- and '70s-inspired apparel," Brandon says. "We try to take the touristy kind of shirt and we upscale it with quality material."
Brandon found out about the Smithfield Street location during online clothing retailer ModCloth's pop-up shop
there earlier this year. And thanks in part to a grant from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Steel City will inhabit the space through Christmas Eve.
"I love Downtown. It's so iconic and I just wanted to give it a try," says Brandon. "With a brand like Steel City, it's all about Pittsburgh, so where better than the heart of the city."
Brandon first got involved in apparel design after dropping out of the University of Pittsburgh. "I just took up apparel design as a Hail Mary," he says.
He was hired to create a Pittsburgh zombie T-shirt, and his design, which parodied the Pittsburgh Pirates logo (substituting the pirate with a zombie and giving him a baseball bat wrapped in chains with a gun thrown in for good measure), was turned down by the client. But it was popular elsewhere and gained Brandon notoriety after former Pirates player A.J. Burnett wore the shirt in pre-game interviews.
Today Steel City is the only independent brand featured by the NFL. And they once raised $14,000 in two weeks for Breast Cancer awareness
"It really has been a collaboration of a lot of people to make this work," says Brandon.
Carly says a large portion of their clientele are "expat displaced yinzers." Forty percent of Steel City's online sales are to out-of-state buyers. And they've even sold to a couple of boutiques in Japan.
For a sneak preview of what they offer, check out Steel City's soft opening tonight from 7-9 p.m. during Light Up Night's festivities. Stop in for refreshments and a 15 percent discount on everything in the store.