Rivertown Inkery long sleeve Cincinnati shirts
Ohio Life

Rivertown Inkery & Apparel, Cincinnati

Doug Burns celebrates the Queen City’s past and present with designs he hopes customers will enjoy for years to come.

Doug Burns’ wardrobe has always been peppered with vintage T-shirts. The difference now is that many of them are his own creations. Burns, who founded Cincinnati’s Rivertown Inkery & Apparel in 2013, started small by selling shirts and prints featuring his designs at the city’s pop-up markets and getting a good reception for what was at the time a hobby.

By 2018, the operation was a full-time business, and Burns opened a storefront in the city’s Oakley neighborhood. Although his designs have evolved over the years, one thing remains the same: vintage-inspired looks that draw from Cincinnati history are king. Burns’ designs give new life to local landmarks of years past, like Queen City Beach and the Reds’ former home of Riverfront Stadium. Another shows an overhead view of the ballclub’s Crosley Field, which closed in 1970.

“People come up and are like, ‘Oh, I remember when I went to Crosley Field as a kid,’ ” Burns says. “They look at the seating chart [and point out], ‘This is where my dad took me. We sat right here.’ So, it’s fun for us to bring out those nostalgic memories.”

Other shirts celebrate the Cincinnati of now, with orange-and-black tiger designs offering a nod to the Cincinnati Bengals and another that celebrates Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo’s star hippopotamus. Rivertown Inkery has expanded into stickers, bags and patches, but apparel is still at the heart of the business, and Burns says he aims to make clothing that customers will enjoy for a long time to come.

“We’re drawing inspiration from the past, and there are designs from 20, 30 years ago that are still really cool today,” he says. “We always want to produce stuff that’s going to last — [shirts] people are going to want to wear in 10, 15, 20 years.”  

3096 Madison Rd. #1W, Cincinnati 45209, 513/401-5086, rivertowninkery.com