More than just a band tee…
Once upon a time, the band t-shirt was something you bought at the merchandise stall in a gig or festival. It was something you never considered wearing out, just another t-shirt to add to your bedtime collection. The design of the t-shirt would be just the artist’s or band’s logo with the touring dates on the back, nothing more and nothing less. This is what you expected from the memorabilia.
The band t-shirt first arrived around fifty years ago. You could only get the merchandise when you arrived to the gig or festival. It was an exclusive item and showed that you got the chance to go to this amazing event. The t-shirt was also seen as a collector’s item. However, over the past couple of years, the band t-shirt has become a staple in a music lover’s wardrobe, from Joy Division to Nirvana and Guns ‘n’ Roses. Johan Kugelber, author of Vintage Rock T-Shirts told The Guardian, “what broke band t-shirts was mass distribution, just like everything else.” You can now shop the band t-shirt on any outlet from Amazon to Topshop to the bands website, they all stock their own versions of it. Not to mention Camden Market, where the stalls are filled to brim with music memorabilia.
Nowadays – whilst it still aims to show off the tour dates and the bands logo – the design is more creative. The item has become more fashionable. You still have people hunting for the most worn in, eccentric, vintage band t-shirt. However, more current artists and bands are bringing out t-shirts that you would see in a high street store.
Across every genre, you have Enter Shikari creating simple, geometric designs, Hercules and Love Affair iconic printed t-shirts and Drumcode label showing off their signature logo and minimal ‘TECHNO’ t-shirts. Then there’s Lethal Bizzle, who has created the ‘Stay Dench’ brand, which is everything from snapbacks, shorts, vests and other accessories. Last month, Jamie XX opened his own ‘In Colour’ store in Dalston for a couple of weeks. The store stocked his merchandise including the hat collaboration with New Era; you could also pick up vinyls for the samples he used on the album. The Wire magazine, every so often, asks artists to draw and design t-shirts especially for them.
There are also outlets such as Millionhand and the record labels – for example Phonica records – websites that stock all these designs in one place for you, along with tote bags, slip mats and headphones.
These artists are using their style as an extension of their music, making them more than just a band, artist or DJ. They’re making a brand of themselves and allowing their fans to show their support through other means than going to their gigs, listening to and buying their music. By wearing these clothes you’re allowing yourself to become something more than just the music, you’re becoming part of a unified group and wearing these t-shirts represents that. All whilst being fashionable. It is also known that whilst bands are just beginning their journeys, the merchandise will be the only thing that feeds them.
Here are five items The Weekid recommends:
- Adidas Yeezy Boost 750 in black coming in December.
- Jamie XX New Era ‘In Colour’ cap from Jamie XX website.
- Modeselector x AIAIAI TMA-2 Headphones via Monkeytown Records.
- Erased Tapes collection tote bag in black from Erased Tapes.