Catalyst Design: Creating Fashion That Causes Change

By Suzanna Summa

Fashion with conscience was the motivation behind Chris Hargrove’s brainchild and T-shirt company Catalyst Design. Formed in 2009, Catalyst Design promises to do just that: to create and distribute T-shirts that stand for more than just another emblem on a shirt — fashion that is positive and uplifting, promoting individuality, self-expression, style and social awareness.

From a young age, Hargrove used art to express himself and, throughout his life, it has always been his primary means of self-expression. In high school, he began making T-shirts on a whim. He saw a T-shirt he wanted and figured he could make it himself. Not only did he make the T-shirt he wanted, but soon his family and friends were requesting his designs for themselves. He then went on to study visual arts at Syracuse University.

After graduation, Hargrove began his career, but always maintained his T-shirt hobby. It provided him with the pleasure of creating a unique form of artwork and allowed him to share his designs in a memorable way with family and friends.

Over the years, he began getting more and more requests from co-workers, friends and family for his original designs, and T-shirts began to take center stage and become his preferred art medium.

In 2009, Hargrove made the decision to make his hobby a business, and Catalyst Design was born.

Hargrove’s hope is that the name and his original art will reflect his desire to be a catalyst for others, that not only will the shirts be original pieces of artwork, but that the concept itself will inspire others to express the things they really believe and to follow their dreams.

The T-shirt designs range from Eastern mysticism to zombie and Day of the Dead icons. Hargrove is always open to new concepts and is willing to work on any unique T-shirt idea a client may have. All his shirts are hand-painted, silk-screened and heat-sealed. They are also hand-dipped and hand-dyed (with non-bleeding colors) to create a custom look that lets no two shirts be exactly alike. The shirts are 100 percent breathable cotton with customizable colors.

“I think of my original designs as wearable art,” he said.

In the near future, Hargrove plans to begin experimenting with organic dyes and sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp and bamboo.

Catalyst Design has worked on custom T-shirts for events and nonprofits, and is well-suited to provide designs that are as unique and inspired as the organization and/or event for which they’re developed.

Hargrove is determined to become even more active in the community, and provide inspirational artwork to a variety of charities. He knows that in this way, he will help make a positive impact. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

To learn more about Catalyst Design and Chris Hargrove’s original T-shirt art, or if you are interested in enlisting his services for a special project or fundraising event, visit or call (561) 654-1303.

ABOVE: Chris Hargrove works on one of his unique T-shirt designs.