Do you have a memory from growing up, when you realized that a tee was more than just a piece of clothing? That it was your favorite T-shirt and that wearing it actually meant something.
This is absolutely wild. I feel like I’m in a trance. As soon as you brought that up, three shirts popped into my mind that I haven’t thought about in, like, twenty years. But they’re vivid memories.
I had this Freddy Krueger T-shirt when I was about thirteen. It was black and had the character on the front holding the glove up, but it was mostly face—you know, with that classic expression. I remember it was really well-printed. And I remember thinking it was so sick. At the time, in the ‘80s, horror culture was definitely a thing. It made me feel so cool; even as a young kid, I felt so edgy wearing it. I wore it so much—these tees I’m talking about, all of them, really—that the ink started to crack and the black faded to charcoal from being washed so much, but I’d still wear it.
Before that, there was a Dennis Rodman tee, from when he was on the Pistons and it said “Dennis ‘The Worm’ Rodman” and there was an action shot in black and white behind the ettering. I remember the Pistons colors were a bit off from what they normally are. The red was a bit pink and the blue was a bit poppier, but it was so nicely printed.
There was also a sublimated David Robinson tank top. It was so well done and had these great colors on it that really popped. It was really bright. I loved that. And, I remember a Beastie Boys tee—a white tee, with a photo of them sitting on a curb, with green lettering. I loved that shirt.
You weren’t kidding about these still being vivid memories so many years later. Those T-shirts kind of become part of who you are, no?
It’s so funny that thinking back to my youth and teenaged years—I was expressing myself through tees. I can remember the feeling of putting on my a favorite tee once it was out of the wash. It was like putting on a personality. I’d match it with caps I was wearing, too. I guess I figured that anybody who saw me would know I was a fan—like a conversation-starter.
It’s like a universal handshake when you see someone wearing a tee you’re down with.
I’ve done that recently, go up to someone and just be like “I like that tee, it’s sick, man.” If I see someone with a clever shirt, or a reference to a character or a band, or anything that I like, really, I give them a little knowing nod to let them know.
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