Friday, August 12, 2005

Other than Threadless:

New York Times :

"With a T-shirt, it is much easier to show your work than trying to find a gallery," says Toshiki Okazaki, as quoted by Guy Trebay in The New York Times (7/21/05). According to Toshiki, who runs a Manhattan boutique called Zakka,, that's why some artists are producing limited runs of T-shirts. It's the perfect canvas if the artist wants some exposure but maybe doesn't care so much about making money. Of course, some artists are making money with the concept. Kadorable,, for instance, sells its artsy T-shirts to subscribers, who pay $145 a month to "receive a shirt a month by mail for five months."

Then there are those who really aren't artists at all, but have seized -- or simply stumbled -- upon an apparent demand for limited-run, "often crude and uncommercial-looking" T-shirts that you can't find at, say, Target. Or even your local vintage-apparel boutique. That would be Kristin Bauer and Liz Vassey of, "a company that makes T-shirts that read like semaphores flared from the battleground of contemporary romance." Their shirts, which carry phrases like "ignore me and i'm yours," caught on after Kristin, an actress, wore one of her shirts while doing publicity for a TV show. Next thing you know a TV Guide reporter wrote up her shirts and the orders started pouring in.

"It all goes hand in hand with the vintage thing," says Molly Spaulding, of Narnia, a boutique. "People like the idea that there's only one, there's only one size. They like the feeling that it's their own style." For all its intended "cool obscurity," the trend toward short-run T-shirts is actually edging toward mass marketing. Prada, for example, recently collaborated "with the Chilean graffiti artist Flavien Demarigny (a.k.a. Mambo). And although Kadorable's shirts may be produced in a basement in Brooklyn, they have been featured in GQ (hey, somebody got The New York Times to write this story, too, and of course we played right into it). All told, an estimated 1,500 websites currently are selling limited-edition T-shirts, and Olin McKenzie of suggests they'll be around for a while: "T-shirts, like blue jeans, are forever," he says. "Nobody is going to stop wearing them anytime soon."

Now that everyone knows and wears Threadless, where is the exclusivity? Even online stores in Singapore have brought them in.

So here's my list of "Other than Threadless" Tshirt designers worth a peek:

Tank Theory.
Rock'n Clothing
Media Fury
Es Gibt
Fit for use
Secret HandShake
Full Bleed
Hello Base
Perplex and Lola at Virgin Threads (another cool store by itself)

So there, an entire list of creative artists to support. And if still haven't got that Tshirt after seeing this, shame on you.