Street Art Obsessed Backpacker Launches New Chicago Streetwear Brand

BNtheMix/ CHICAGO/ MARCH 13, 2019/ PakRat Ink just launched an innovative apparel brand that transforms street art into streetwear. Collaborating with six local Chicago street artists, PakRat Ink turns their large scale public murals into wearable art.

What began as a love for off-the-beaten-path travel, quickly became an obsession with street art that ultimately turned into the Chicago-based startup – PakRat Ink. Founder, Elissa Barsky, came up with the idea during an extended backpacking trip through Central America and Mexico. Inspiration stuck while viewing a 10-foot tall mural of a punk version of Frida Kahlo, tucked away down a narrow alley in Mexico City. “There’s something so beautiful and mesmerizing about transforming an otherwise ordinary wall into something extraordinary. I knew I had to do the same thing with apparel,” said Barsky.

Each design begins with an actual photograph of the mural so all of the intricate, real life details from the artwork are captured on the apparel. “We do everything ourselves because we’re insane and want the highest quality garments that are a true representation of the artists’ work. Everything is printed in-house using a state-of-the-art direct to garment printer that can print millions of colors and captures the true essence of the mural,” said Barsky. Each garment includes the GPS coordinates of the exact location of the mural to give customers the opportunity to see the street art in person.

PakRat Ink is not just another trendy clothing brand. The socially conscious brand promotes street art, supports local artists and gives back to the artist community. A percentage of every unit sold is donated to After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago public high school teens opportunities to explore and develop their artistic talents.

PakRat Ink provides a unique platform for both established and emerging artists to share their art through fashion. “Once your art is out of your head your art isn’t yours anymore; it’s the worlds,” said Marco Miller, Chicago street artist whose Frida Kahlo mural is part of the collection.

Each city has a unique story to tell, captured differently by each artist. In the next year, PakRat Ink plans on adding six new cities featuring street art collaborations from each city.

The entire collection is unisex and features denim jackets, hoodies, crewnecks and t-shirts. Altogether 50 different items are available for purchase online and shipping worldwide.

View the full line at and follow them on Instagram @pakratink