Fashion to a Tee
Vardagen Fishers Experiencing Success With West Coast Expansion
Photographer: Brandy Hornback
When Jared Ingold began designing and printing custom t-shirts in a friend’s garage, the Ohio native was not planning to take the fashion world by storm. In 2006, he was merely having fun creating his first ugly Christmas sweater t-shirt. He didn’t expect it to be sold in 45 countries around the world.
“It kind of grew from there,” he says.
“It” is Vardagen, a graphic t-shirt brand and the creative arm of The Art Press (Ingold’s print shop located near downtown Indianapolis) that has been in Fishers for the past eight years and has recently begun making its mark on the west coast. According to Ingold, Vardagen designs have been featured on the Urban Outfitters blog, been worn in a national Starbucks commercial and have even been spotted in Hot Topic.
“Everything we make is unique,” Ingold says. “We do the entire process ourselves. We hand draw everything. We mix our own inks. We print our designs on the softest garments. We are not just the same old mass produced mainstream logos and graphics.”
Vardagen is a Swedish word meaning “every day” and Ingold says people can interpret the term any way they choose to. A t-shirt is something people wear every day, but a Vardagen shirt is a crazy mix of style, quality and design, with plenty of humor thrown in for good measure. One of their more popular graphics features a skeleton laboring in the fields with the caption, “Working ourselves to death.” It’s an ironic nod to the idea that although we may need to work in order to live, the constant toil can lead to an early grave.
“We are not a ‘Life is good’ brand but a crazy mix of things that come together in one place,” Ingold says “Our designer, Daniel Jewett, started with me about two or three years after I got the business going and everything you see now is his artwork. There is no shortage to his creativity.”
Of course, it’s not easy to start a brand out of nowhere or to blaze a trail in the Midwest, but Ingold feels there is no limit to what Vardagen can do. In 2015, Ingold added a Sure Shot espresso bar to his Fisher’s store after seeing them in New York boutiques. It’s something unique for the Midwest, but Ingold felt strongly that the community needed a coffee bar that was not a traditional franchise and when none opened up he said he’d do it himself.
“It’s an idea that is ahead of its time,” he says.
Of course, his most ambitious project to date was Vardagen’s expansion into the Los Angeles marketplace. In 2017, Ingold was determined to see how his brand might fare in a new market. He found a spot in the world-renowned shopping district of Abbot Kenney and created a pop-up store that was only intended to be open for 30 days.
“It was expensive but I had a hunch that it would do well,” he says. “We made back all of our money on the project as well as a profit so we extended it until December and now we’ve extended it again for another year.”
It was a hunch that paid off and while both stores continue to do well, Ingold says Vardagen is a community-centered, earth-friendly brand that will never cater to a specific market.
“Authenticity is very important to us,” he says. “If we don’t love it, we don’t sell it.”
Vardagen is located at 8684 E. 116th St. in Fishers. You can visit them online at shop.vardagen.com or call 317-572-5570.