As a brand, Glory Days Apparel focuses on the beauty of Charlotte, looking both forward and backward. The company’s founder and owner, JD Harris, strives to create custom designs that represent the Queen City as a thriving one, while implementing the city’s history into each handmade work of art.
“I’m really big on nostalgia and throwback retro things, like ’90s culture” says Harris.
Moving into the 2020s means making new memories, though, and that’s what Harris aims to do when he opens up his first brick-and-mortar location in April, as he recently announced on Instagram. The store will be located in the RailYard, a block from Bland Street Station on the LYNX Blue Line in the South End neighborhood.
Harris told Queen City Nerve that picking out the right location was a long process; nothing felt right until the spot in South end became available and he knew he had found what he was looking for.
“It is a mecca where people are living and socializing,” he said. “I love the energy that surrounds there and we have already done plenty of events there. Our fanbase is probably mostly there, too.”
Harris plans to roll out a new spring collection near the end of April to coincide with the store’s opening. He plans to continue to peddle his popular tees at the pop-up events that built him such a following, but hopes the new store will add another dimension to the Glory Days experience.
“We want our store to give off the feeling of home,” he said. “We want our fans to be able to come in and try on the shirt, all while they experience our brand hands-on.”
Harris launched Glory Days in 2015 after deciding he wanted out of the finance world where he had worked for nearly a decade.
“It wasn’t easy,” Harris said. “I drew a lot of experience from my time in finance with how to manage money and work with people, especially from the customer service standpoint.”
Harris went it alone upon launching Glory Days and learned about running his own clothing company through trial-and-error for the most part.
“It helped me grow in both the business and personal sense”, said Harris. “Taking those situations and learning from them was the highlight. Turning each situation into something positive was how I was able to grow and learn.”
For example, dedicating so many Glory Days designs to Charlotte wasn’t part of the initial plan, but he’s recognized a demand and capitalized.
“Initially, I didn’t plan on doing a lot of Charlotte things, but it’s what people really wanted to have,” says Harris. “They have pride for their city and wanted to represent it in a unique way.”
His most popular shirts have ranged from the famous (a Dean Smith tribute) to the infamous (the Homer thief) to more trendy items like his Boozy Brunch design or the CLT Autobot, which mixes the Charlotte Knights, Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers’ logos to make one Transformer-inspired hybrid mascot.
“I want to design a shirt that people can have, that will also have a memory attached to it,” he said.
He also aims to make a difference with his company. He’s done his fair share with local charities, including the recent “Too Blessed to be Stressed” design, which paid tribute to Scott Brooks, co-owner of Brooks’ Sandwich House who was shot and killed during an attempted robbery in December. Harris sold the shirts at the Brooks’ reopening earlier this month and the proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity, Brooks’ charity of choice.
“It was very impactful to see the community come together and support the family and getting to know the Brook’s family so much closer,” Harris said. “We didn’t just want to make Charlotte shirts … Our brand has to be embedded with the community.”
In the coming year, Harris looks forward to expanding his brand, not only by opening the new shop but by possibly engaging more with people outside of Charlotte, though he said he will always keep the Queen City as his home base.
“It’s very exciting and terrifying because it’s all new, but I’m thankful for this opportunity,” he said.