Chloe Anello writes about everything from skin care to bedsheets. Most of all, she loves asking celebrities what they can’t live without.
I live (and have always lived) in the Hudson Valley. According to Google and the egocentric New York City residents, upstate is anywhere north of New York City. This means I am in Upstate New York. (To those in upstate cities such as Rochester or Albany, who claim that the term refers to areas closer to Canada than New York City I’d like to point out that I went college in Syracuse. To people in the city, my part of upstate has always been prime long-weekend territory — a place to visit but nowhere to live. It was fashionable to claim that I live in Hudson Valley during the pandemic. With everyone living in cramped apartments and a need for nature, it became trendy to say that. And based on some of the clothes at J.Crew, Aerie (its “upstate” sweatshirt is actually so popular it is now sold out), and Revolve, it’s also cool to dress like you’ve been there.
But just as a New Yorker wouldn’t necessarily parade around the city in an I ❤ NY T-shirt (with no disrespect to the design’s creator, New York co-founder Milton Glaser), folks who actually spend time (or live) in upstate New York would not wear those. You can get a more authentic upstate look by investing in subtle, cool merchandise that will be appreciated by locals rather than snarky glances. Some of the best options, including everything from artist Dan Colen’s Sky High Farms in Ancramdale, sell out almost immediately, but there’s still plenty of great clothing to be had. Below, I’ve rounded up the best of it: T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and more, all sold by local businesses throughout the area.
You don’t need a Woodstock poster to make you smile, this Yasgur farms T-shirt will do the trick. This reference is only for those who are well-informed. Buying it from Bethel Woods, the museum for the festival and popular concert venue, will give you an additional level of clout — and directly benefit the institution that preserves the memories of the festival.
Anybody who has ever spent time in Beacon knows about this dummy light that loosely directs traffic at an intersection on Main Street. It’s a nightmare to drive there, so celebrate your success with this really cool mug from Last Outpost.
The Phoenicia Diner Merch, one of the most iconic landmarks in Catskills has become quite common. But putting this subtle mug pin on a denim jacket or tote (as you travel the state) is a great way to support it without looking like you’re trying too hard.
Cooperstown merch is also quite common since 300,000 people visit every year the Baseball Hall of Fame to shop at the local merchandise stores. A vintage tee such as this will make you stand out from other baseball fans who visit the town. And in case this shirt sells out, it’s also offered here and here in different colors and sizes.
Unexpectedly, Buffalo has some of the best merch I’ve ever seen. It’ the largest city in the state, just after New York City, and people from there seem to really have a lot of pride. This shirt tells you everything.
This Oxford Pennant shirt, made by the well-known pennant manufacturer Oxford Pennant, makes a promise that Buffalo is unable to keep.
Aside from equally popular Trax and Bank Square (which don’t sell merch online), Big Mouth is one of Beacon’s main coffee suppliers. Lots of local coffee shops stock their coffee, and because they’re stationed smack dab in the middle of Main Street, they’re easy to spot. You can wear it to show your knowledge of the best coffee spots in any area.
Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz, better known as “The Gunks,” is one of the biggest climbing locations in the country and a fairly popular biking trail. This beanie is perfect for late-fall hiking and features a beautiful patch of the view along the trail.
This funny T-shirt, designed by Ryan Williams and Boneshaker Records (a Catskills-based record company), supports a very specific movement to create a Kingston skate park.
Marlboro.NY was established by Patrick Merryman (a Hudson Valley resident and a friend). I bought this cheeky shirt from his shop earlier this year because it’s possibly one of the coolest upstate New York shirts I’ve ever seen.
For a more subtle nod to the Hudson Valley, I’m fond of his apple logo sweatshirt, too.
Hamilton & Adams, a Kingston-based brand devoted to showcasing what upstate New York has to offer, is best known for their “Upstate and Chill” merchandise. It would be a good idea to also check out their other designs like this vintage-looking keyhole t-shirt. This shirt feels more like a thrift store purchase than a gift shop purchase.
The Woodstock Film Festival will take place at the end September. It spans four days, and features independent films by both established and rising artists. A pass can be purchased here. A tee can be purchased to support both the non-profit organization as well as emerging creatives.
Beacon’s Hudson Valley Brewery has been a popular weekend stop. If you need something to remember your visit by (or to inspire you to get up there), the brewery’s merch is nearly as good as its beer.
The Walkway Over the Hudson opened in 2009 as a historical park, long after a fire destroyed the original property in the ’70s. The bridge goes straight across the Hudson River from Highland to Poughkeepsie, with beautiful views that tourists can’t seem to resist. This limited-edition tee features a subtle and cute drawing of the bridge.
SUNY Oneonta has a bit of a …reputation. Get in on the joke with this crewneck from a brand that’s embraced it: Stoneota.
Albany-based brand Compas Life trademarked the slogan “Upstate of Mind,” a feeling that comes through clearly on this somewhat motivational vintage-y T-shirt.
This Hungry Chuck’s Bar tee will bring back lots of memories for any Syracuse alum who attended before the bar was replaced with luxury condos. This T-shirt will be more relevant than ever since the notorious seniors-only spot will reopen in the fall.
The Red Apple Rest closed in 2006, but for 50 years before that, this restaurant and motel along Route 17 was a beloved Catskills destination. In 1965, the business served over 1,000,000 people. Its iconic gigantic apple still sits atop the building (although it’s abandoned and worn down). This sweatshirt will be a fitting tribute to it.
Popular Hudson restaurant Lil Deb’s Oasis has some particularly charming and funky merchandise, like this cheeky tee.
Another popular summer destination is Lake George. The T-shirt is in a soothing butter shade that screams vacation without being overly cheesy.
Any baker will probably recognize Daniel Leader’s bread-baking books, especially his most recent one, Living Bread, which won a James Beard award last year. Each book features the secrets, recipes, as well as baking tips that Leader has learned while running Bread Alone Bakery in the Hudson Valley. There are many fun merchandise, but this vintage Bread Alone Tshirt stands out.
Every local high-school or college student has probably gone to at least one concert at the Chance in Poughkeepsie.
Up until the early ’70s, the Capitol Theatre in Portchester was a popular concert venue for big name artists like Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead. After a brief shutdown in the early ’80s, it now showcases artists like Sheryl Crow, Billy Idol, and Elvis Costello.
Although it has lately become a checkpoint for Instagram influencers trying to show off their culture, Storm King’s 500-acre outdoor museum is still a wonderful place to visit. Instead of (like any other clout-thirsty tourist) getting a tee that says simply “Storm King,” try these socks, which are based on artwork featured in the exhibition Indicators: Artists on Climate Change.
It’s still a huge deal to watch the annual Army Navy football match. With Army merchandise, you can support West Point by picking sides just like a local.
Whatever you do, please do not buy an “Ithaca Is Gorges” tee. The pun references the Ithaca waterfalls, otherwise known as “The Gorges,” and it is probably the most touristy shirt you can find in the area. If you don’t mind the judgement of others, they can be found here. Ithaca Tie Dyes offers a great alternative. The brand offers lots of different clothing items, from tees to socks, and while it doesn’t explicitly say “Ithaca” on it, you’re supporting a local business — and when you get compliments (which you will), you can say where it’s from.
Are you a member of the Central Intelligence Agency? You may not know. This sweatshirt, which is a bit less scary, is also a good option.
Ithaca Beer is now available nationwide. However, it was originally made upstate. Support the brewery by wearing this subtle nod to its best -selling beer “Flower Power.”
One of the most popular Finger Lakes is Seneca Lake, which has a large state park at its north end where you can fish, boat, picnic, and more. This sweatshirt, which is collegiate-inspired, is a lovely tribute.
Upstate is home to some of the most important horse racing tracks in the country such as Belmont Park and Saratoga Springs. With the recent rise of preppy clothing, perhaps now’s a good time to sport this hat supporting Saratoga Springs — the oldest racetrack in America.
Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz is an all-inclusive resort that draws people from all walks of the globe. From personal experience, I can confirm that it’s truly magical. This actually-kind-of-cute rainbow hoodie is for kids, so if you’re one of those people who can fit into children’s clothing, then this is a good choice.
Syracuse was once the country’s largest salt producer. While that’s no longer the case, the city is still referred to as “The Salt City.” Support Syracuse’s Mets-affiliated minor-league team with this T-shirt bearing the reference.
Fortunes Ice Cream in Tivoli has received rave reviews from many magazines, Food & Wine naming it the best icecream in New York State. You can also get some of the most stylish T-shirts. It is possible to order one online or in-store by emailing the item to its website.
Nalgene was created by an accidental scientist who wanted to create the first plastic pipette. The lightweight bottles were quickly popularized by hikers when lab techs used them on a 1960s hiking trip to Adirondacks. Given this history, it seems only right to sport an Adirondack Mountain Club Nalgene, which we’ve coincidentally dubbed a status water bottle — so you kill two birds with one stone.
If you call it the “The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge,” you’re clearly not from around here.
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