Why a band t-shirt is just as important as the music

ramones-first-album-tshirtIf you’re into music as much as I am, band t-shirts are probably the most frequently worn items of clothing in your wardrobe, and they’re most likely to be a screen printed Gildan t-shirt. Many items of clothing will go out of fashion in a short amount of time, however the band t-shirt is in a timeless room where it’s having a few beers with it’s fellow associate denim jeans.

Believe it or not, it’s was actually a phenomenon during the mid 70’s called punk rock that gave the t-shirt new life, with backyard designers taking DIY (do it yourself) mentality to the next level and putting together their own screen printing rigs. Designers such as Vivienne Westwood also fueled such an amazing fire that was not ready to smoulder by presenting outrageous designs with bondage gear, safety pins, spiked dog collars, bike or toilet chains and  using pop art images to screen print onto t-shirts with an unlimited amount of designs. One band that relied on t-shirts for income was the Ramones. Another excellent design that is still around today is the famous Misfits print with the white skull.

When the 90’s appeared and the new generation (gen y) started to grow, the t-shirt became less of a fashion statement and more of a middle road for safe clothing. The industry had started to fall and every label was out to dominate as much as they could. Bands started to promote themselves, book their own tours, sell their own albums and print their own t-shirts. As the internet was introduced during the mid 90’s, bands started feeling the effect of CD sales falling and the t-shirt became a solid source of income for bands. When a band has a batch of t-shirts screen printed, they’re usually paying anywhere around $15 per t-shirt, depending on the colour, the amount of colours in the design and how many t-shirts they want. You can see that bands selling their t-shirts at $20 are not making much money at all, however it’s still more than CD sales as P2P networks such as Napster and Limewire became popular.

Batfoot t-shirtToday not much has changed, CDs are still being downloaded through torrent portals and the t-shirt is still a number one source of income for bands. People wear t-shirts for many reasons today, whether it’s a fashion statement, loyalty to a product or cultural reference. T-shirts have been around since the 60’s and they’re one thing that’s accepted acorss all generations. As for bands, it’s common that a bands merchandise is it’s bread and butter with shows generally paying for transport and drinks and CD sales more often running at a loss.

Some of the most amazing designs for t-shirts come from metal bands with complex colour gradients and extremely detailed shading. Sometimes punk rock brings back their roots with pop cultural reference designs, however most is recycled these days with vector cartoon style designs that show a DIY influence.


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