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Sarnia’s slower lifestyle fits clothing designers to a Tee

Cathy Dobson Though they aren’t originally from here the guys behind a Sarnia-based clothing line called Imperial Duds sure have a lot of civic pride.
Mike Cole, left, and Josh Walters of Imperial Duds.Cathy Dobson
Mike Cole, left, and Josh Walters of Imperial Duds. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson 

Though they aren’t originally from here the guys behind a Sarnia-based clothing line called Imperial Duds sure have a lot of civic pride.

“We have fallen in love with this place, the slower lifestyle, a better place to raise a family and enough variety without the hustle and bustle of the city,” says Josh Walters, 34, co-founder and design specialist at Imperial Duds.

He and business partner Mike Cole, 29, were born and raised in the U.S.  They both married Canadian women and eventually moved to Sarnia, where they met.

Walters spent time in Toronto where he met some people from Sarnia. When he and his wife started a family, they decided to move here and take advantage of less expensive living costs.

“What we found here was a very welcoming community that is very supportive of new ideas, said Walters.

He and Cole work at the Refined Fool Brewing Company and intend to keep their day job. But after Cole helped a buddy do some screen-printing they began talking about the lack of Sarnia-specific clothing.

“I became intrigued with the idea and Josh came up with some concepts,” said Cole.

“With the exception of the Sarnia Sting and some of the petrochemical companies, there’s nothing available that promotes Sarnia,” said Walters.

Inspired by the Chemical Valley and searching for an edgy design with appeal to all demographics, they came up with their “Chemical Valet” tee, which depicts the familiar smoke stacks, a retro car and a driver.

Since launching Imperial Duds in January, that first design has been the biggest seller on T-shirts and sweatshirts. The other popular design incorporates the Blue Water Bridge and Chemical Valley in a ski mask.

“Chemical Valley has a lot of positives, so why not wear it with pride?” asked Walters.  “Instead of apologizing for Chemical Valley, we can own it.”

Imperial Duds has five or six designs and more due this summer on the solar farm, beach, Canatara Park and the community’s love affair with French fry trucks.

Imperial Duds, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, pullovers, hoodies, hats and totes, can be ordered online at

T-shirts cost $26 each, shipping and taxes included if the shipping promo code (ship18) is used.

“We’re making very little,” Cole admitted. “It’s enough to help with marketing and our goal is to break even right now.

“But when I see someone wearing something from Imperial Duds, that’s really all I need. We’ll make money if there’s enough interest in the market.”

The pair plans to sell Imperial Duds at ArtWalk and hope to have pop-up locations in future. They also want to incorporate the work of local artists on their Sarnia wear for limited-edition tees.


Sarnia’s Braden Larose-Clarke is starting Blade Lawn this month and offers an array of lawn care services such as mowing, cleanup, fertilization, dethatching, aeration, planting, trimming, top dress and mulching.

He’s had 10 years of experience in the lawncare industry and says he enjoys the work so much, he wants to operate his own business.

Blade Lawn also offers snowplowing in winter. For more, visit, check Blade Lawn out on Facebook or call 519-331-6136. Insured with full WSIB coverage. Free estimates offered on every job.

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