A new shop has opened in Caravelle Arcade in Christiansted offering shirts and dresses covered in vibrantly colored original prints of birds, fish, boats and even a tiger. The pieces are beautifully tropical, lightweight, antimicrobial, quick drying and can be used as rash guards.
Perhaps most important, as the territory moves to outlaw toxic sunscreens, the tops and short A-line dresses bear a sun protection factor – known as SPF – of 50 to protect the wearer from sunburn. They are lightweight and light on the skin – not like traditional underwater shirts that can be hot when worn out of the water.
The apparel is attractive enough to go from the beach to the beach bar and to work.
Bert Woodsen is the creator of Sublime clothing in the store with the same name. He came up with the idea to support his mother, who took up painting at the age of 74. She created many of the scenes used on the clothing, including a red rowboat in front of a Vincent Van Gogh like sky. Woodsen owns all of the artwork used on the garments.
The men’s styles includes a long sleeved T-shirt, and women can choose from a short sleeve V-neck dress or a flattering boat neck shirt with long sleeves and a rounded hem. All are covered with jewel-like colors – front and back.
Sun protection clothing is not new, but most companies produce garments in a single color or repeating pattern with a few colors. Sublime’s line is unusually varied.
The clothes are made on St. Croix of a tight-weave fabric treated with zinc. The fabric wicks moisture and doesn’t cling.
A six-foot large format printer and several smaller presses are used to dye ready-made white garments. A sublimation dying process is used to transfer the artwork so that the color never fades, Woodsen said.
Woodsen also sells reef friendly 30 SFP sunblock. The ban of sunscreens with toxic ingredients such as octocrylene goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021. Similar legislation goes into effect the same day in Hawaii and Florida.
Woodsen moved back to St. Croix two years ago, by way of Costa Rica. In the 1980’s, he lived on the island and owned a business in Gallows Bay.