"I COULD DO STRAIGHT OUTTA MISSION... AND I'D PROBABLY SELL FIVE SHIRTS."
KELOWNA - Greg Greenough knows that sometimes good things come from bad reputations.
Embracing the shady image of Kelowna's 'notorious' neighbourhood, Greenough, 47, is using his print shop to fashion T-shirts emblazoned with “Straight Outta Rutland"— a simple design showing how locals have embraced the ghettoized image of their community—with humour.
“The thing with Rutland is, it has a ton of pride,” Greenough says.
Rutland has always had a reputation likened to the Surrey of Vancouver. Though largely undeserved, it's nevertheless propagated by other Kelowna neighbourhoods involved in a long-standing rivalry. Rutlanders have long ago stopped fighting it. Now, Greenough says residents like himself just laugh it off.
“Everybody from Rutland thinks that's hilarious, and we love it,” he says.
It was Greenough's nephew who coined the slogan, a spin-off on the hip hop group N.W.A's 1980's album Straight Outta Compton. So he made him one. Today his Valley Contract Screenprinting shop on Leathead Road has sold over 1,000 shirts, now worn by anyone between the ages of six and 80.
“I could do Straight Outta Mission, Straight Outta Westbank, Straight Outta Lake Country and I'd probably sell five shirts,” he says.
Rutland pride runs as deep as the community's origins. As far back as fifty years ago, still far beyond Kelowna's city limits, Rutland was an outsider community attracting young families looking for affordable living. And it's always had a rivalry with Kelowna proper. The stories of Rutland Senior secondary against Kelowna Senior secondary schools are legendary. Greenough is born and raised Straight Outta Rutland and says the stigma was always foisted on them.
Posers may naturally be discouraged from buying one, but you don't need a Rutland passport to get one. Talk about Rutland pride—buyers take pictures of themselves all across the world wearing their shirts.
“We've had a friend who was just in Czechoslovakia just send us a picture and another friend who's in Australia - you name it, it's been everywhere," he says.
It's also been made famous. Parisian UFC fighter Cheick Kongo wore one in front of the world's press at a weigh-in. He happens to be good friends with a former Rutland resident. The shirt also made a brief TV appearance in the Ice Road Truckers series.
"One of the guys is from Rutland and he's worn the shirt on the show," Greenough says.
But he's not keen to push the underground fashion into the mainstream. Other than a Facebook page plastered with self-portraits of proudly dressed residents, you won't catch any advertising or promotions for the shirt. Greenough says it's all in good fun.
“It's not something we do to make money. Some people suggested we should take it to Rutland May Days or other events, but... it's not what we do."
While they've branched into bumper stickers and beer cozies, he doesn't anticipate much more beyond some charity fund raisers.
For those wanting to show off their Rutland pride, Greenough takes orders on the Facebook page that now claims nearly 2,000 likes and hundreds of proud Rutlanders wearing their shirts. Buy one, take a pic and you can join them.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.