Chico-based clothing company grows, gives back

There is a multitude of clothing brands that represent different places. San Francisco, Venice Beach and New York are examples of cities commonly reflected in people’s styles. While big, well-known locations generally have this effect, Chico locals may have noticed shirts, tanks or hats with features specific to Chico.

This apparel is from Upper Park Clothing, a local business that captures the town and all its beauty through artwork slapped onto a stylish jacket or t-shirt.

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Chico natives Jaime Wilhite and David Selkirk, owners and co-founders of Upper Park Clothing, created the popular brand after deciding to expand their screen-printing company. Photo credit: Nathan Graves

Jaime Wilhite and David Selkirk, owners and co-founders of Upper Park Clothing were both born, raised and educated in Chico. Wilhite, the CEO, heads up the commercial aspects. Selkirk takes on the role of art director and is deeply invested in the art behind the designs. There is much overlap, though, with responsibilities being shared.

Originally known as Upper Park Printing, the business started as a screen-printing company working out of a garage in 2011.

“I was trying to find a way to cut costs and decided to start doing the printing myself,” Wilhite said.

The operation evolved into a clothing brand as Wilhite and Selkirk began to collaborate on ideas and designs.

As the business grew, it relocated on more than one occasion. Just two weeks ago, Upper Park Clothing moved from West Eighth Avenue to its new home at 808 Cherry St. The location features a large warehouse for creation and a new storefront for distribution. The team is excited about their new shop which captures Chico with its beautiful wood finishes and steel works.

The duo draws inspiration for their art from different aspects of the region. Many icons of Chico are depicted in the designs. Monkey Face, Chestnut through Orange streets, upper park swimming holes and ubiquitous trees are just some representations of Chico that can be found in their designs.

The two have a wondrous and reverent admiration for the natural beauty surrounding the city and pay homage to it in many designs.

“We’re pretty much inspired by everything around us,” Selkirk said.

The art itself is a component that is very important to the creators. Among other goals of Upper Park Clothing is to create well-crafted, laudable designs.

“We really want to stick to intricate artwork and keep the art at a high level,” Selkirk said.

Another conscious effort in the business is to change people’s perception of Chico.

“A lot of times people come from out of town and they don’t really get to know the local scene,” Wilhite said.

By showcasing Chico’s unique features in the designs, Wilhite and Selkirk are hoping to expose what the city has to offer aside from the stereotypical things that non-Chicoans might hear.

And out of love for its community, Upper Park Clothing has been giving back. Caper Acres is a children’s park in Lower Bidwell notorious for being closed due to a lack of funding. Wilhite and Selkirk remember the park section being closed regularly when they were kids, and Caper Acres continues to have budget issues today.

In an effort to shoulder some of the weight, Upper Park Clothing has a slew of days where a portion of profits are donated to Caper Acres to help keep it afloat. This coincides with a new t-shirt that features icons of Caper Acres in an intricate design. The business has also gotten involved in supporting local events, including Bidwell Bash— Bidwell Park’s annual birthday party.

Wilhite and Selkirk said they plan to continue to support the local community through Upper Park Clothing, especially in regards to art. The duo hopes to hold art shows and musical performances at their new location in the future. Upper Park Clothing has certainly come a long way from its garage operation and does not appear to be slowing down.

“We want to put Chico on the map as far as clothing brands go,” Wilhite said.

Nathan Graves can be reached at features [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.