5 Vintage Great Lakes Tees for Your Outdoorsy Friends

by John Amato

Vintage shirts are favored for their throwback logos, old-school lettering, and the soft feel of well-worn fabric.

Your favorite vintage shirt probably captures the aesthetic and emotional energy of a specific place or time that you have a nostalgic fondness for.

At Jupmode, we don’t sell actual vintage, i.e. old and used shirts. But we do favor a vintage style for most of our t-shirts. We use a combination of design elements and printing techniques to make tees that look and feel worn-in and familiar.

We apply the vintage treatment to all of our favorite Midwest places, institutions, and cultural phenomena. That includes, of course, the spectacular Great Lakes region.

The Great Lakes are a perfect match for the vintage look. After all, vintage styles are all about celebrating age, and, according to the experts, the Great Lakes have their 14,000th birthday coming up (give or take a few thousand years).

Do you share our love for the Great Lakes region? If so, then we’ve got the vintage-style Great Lakes-themed tees for you; ones that capture the good vibes of lakeside days and nights.

In this vintage Great Lakes tees buying guide, here’s what we’ll cover:

  • How Jupmode designs and prints shirts in vintage styles
  • Our favorite vintage-style Great Lake shirt designs 
  • How to purchase Jupmode tees online or in one of our retail stores

the great lakes are a perfect match vintage look

1 - So Great! Lakes Shirt

blue and red “So Great! Lakes” fitted shirt from Jupmode

This So Great! Lakes shirt features retro 80s-style lettering. The text and imagery are neon red and blue which really stand out against the shirt’s navy blue background. 

Like many of our tees, this vintage-style shirt is made with a cotton, polyester, and rayon tri-blend. The material is soft and cozy with the perfect degree of athletic stretchiness. The print is soft and distressed for an old-school vibe that matches the throwback art style. 

2 - Lake Erie Shirt

blue and red Lake Erie fitted unisex shirt from Jupmode

Lake Erie attracts millions of visitors every year. The lake, its many islands, and its coastline communities provide spectacular views, hiking, and some of the world’s best freshwater fishing. 

For those of us who love Lake Erie, it’s important to appreciate its history. The lake was once known as an example of poor environmental stewardship. It’s taken tremendous efforts by local governments, environmental activists, and a caring public to change that reputation. 

In the original version of Dr. Seuss’s environmental-themed children’s book The Lorax, he wrote of troubled fish that were:

“In search of some water that isn’t so smeary … I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.”

In 1985, two graduate students wrote to Dr. Seuss to let him know that Lake Erie had been cleaned up considerably since his book was published. He graciously replied:

“You must think me terribly rude … I should no longer be saying bad things about a body of water that is now, due to great civic and scientific effort, the home of smiling fish.”

The Lorax was revised to remove the negative mention of Lake Erie. 

Managing the health of such an in-demand natural resource as Lake Erie is never easy, but today the lake is looking lovely. 

This Lake Erie tee uses retro artwork to capture the lakeside scenery that we hope will be enjoyed by countless generations to come—foamy waves kissing the sand as the sun sets on another beautiful day. 

3 - Lake Erie Shells Shirt

sky blue and white Lake Erie Shells Shirt from Jupmode

When you recall those joyful childhood afternoons at the lake, do you think of seashell hunts on the sandy beach? Lake Erie is known as a splendid place for discovering these little natural gems, thanks to the abundance of aquatic snails and mollusks. 

If you appreciate the simple joys of nature, this Lake Erie Shells shirt is for you. 

4 - Great Lakes, Great Times Shirt

blue on blue Great Lakes, Great Times Shirt from Jupmode

This Great Lakes, Great Times shirt bears one of our favorite slogans. The tone-on-tone color scheme uses dark blue lettering on a soft sky blue backing. 

Vintage-style printing techniques lend a soft, less solid, and more textured look to the material, with bits of white seeming to shine through the blue. 

”Great shirt! Super soft, fits well.”
— Eric, ★★★★★ Verified Jupmode T-Shirt Buyer 

If Great Lakes, Great Times is the vibe you’re looking for, here are a few more in-stock items bearing that message: 

blue Great Lakes, Great Times crew sweatshirt by Jupmode

Great Lakes, Great Times Crew Sweatshirt

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blue Great Lakes, Great Times drink koozie by Jupmode

Great Lakes, Great Times Koozie

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blue Great Lakes, Great Times tank top shirt by Jupmode

Great Lakes, Great Times Tank

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5 - Lake Michigan Shirt 

dark gray cotton/poly/rayon Lake Michigan Shirt by Jupmode

There’s really no place on earth quite like the shores of Lake Michigan. The lake’s sheer enormity, coastal landscapes and wildlife, and charming lakeside communities make Lake Michigan one-of-a-kind. 

This Lake Michigan shirt captures a bit of the splendor that keeps us coming back to those familiar shores. Puffy clouds drift through retro lettering atop dreamy beach scenery in this Lake Michigan shirt

This shirt’s material consists of a polyester, cotton, and rayon tri-blend. The gray backing is made with a reduced ink print to create a diminished, vintage look and feel. 

How Jupmode Designs and Prints Vintage-Style Shirts

Jupmode team member using screen printing equipment to make shirts

Depending on who you ask, items are considered “vintage” when they’re 20–100 or 40–100 years old.

Along with age, the other component required for vintage status is enduring appeal. Simply being old isn’t sufficient. A vintage item is also appealing, either in a general sense or to a specific segment of the population.

At Jupmode, we employ specialized printing techniques to capture the look and feel of vintage clothing.

One example is the use of halftones, i.e. tiny dots of color. Halftones create a more textured background color layer, as opposed to the solid look that results from printing with thick, heavy layers of ink.

Another vintage printing technique is the addition of an ink reducer. Reduced ink helps create a shirt with fabric that looks and feels cool and soft, instead of hard and opaque.

Vintage printing techniques are great for controlling the appearance and texture of a shirt’s fabric. Of course, the other piece of the puzzle involves the shirt’s design. Logos and images, lettering, and slogans are the components that really capture the vintage spirit.

The shirts featured above use a combination of vintage-style printing techniques along with retro lettering and imagery. And, of course, they’re all about the Great Lakes. 

Vintage Great Lakes Tees and Gifts From Jupmode

blue script Great Lakes, Great Times hooded sweatshirt by Jupmode

If you want to experience the world’s biggest and best freshwater destinations, you need to visit the Great Lakes—and if you want to rock one of the vintage Great Lakes tees featured above, you’ll have to shop with Jupmode, either online or in one of our two brick-and-mortar stores in Toledo, Ohio. 

For more vintage tees, clothing, and gifts that celebrate the American Midwest, check out these special collections: 

Jupmode tees also make great gifts for the Midwest natives you know who are currently far from home. 

To learn more about our vintage designs, printing techniques, and Midwest-themed inventory, stop by the Jupmode blog

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