The Lowly T-shirt

JensVoigtHasAPosse_T_1024x1024I know people who don’t wear T-shirts. They don’t make sense to me in the way that vegans don’t make sense to me. I get that they stand for something, that they have set high standards for themselves, but cool T-shirts are fun, full stop. Not wearing T-shirts, ever, is missing out on good-natured, low-key fun. Veganism is the same thing to me. Life without cheese—real cheese, not that imitation stuff—is something approaching pointless.

Me? I love a great T-shirt. And because I have a job that really never requires a suit or tie, let alone both, I can wear T-shirts just about every day. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got plenty of stylish button-down shirts, stuff that makes me look entirely more presentable (not to mention professional) than any T-shirt ever will. But I live in California, which is laid-back the way George Clooney is cool. It’s as if laid-back hadn’t been invented until there was California; same thing for cool.

I’ve mentioned previously that the T-shirts we sell here on RKP were driven by entirely selfish concerns. They are shirts I wanted to wear, plain and simple. That a few hundred other people like them enough to buy one and (hopefully) wear it is what happens when luck collides with fun. Bam.

Reviewing T-shirts is reality-show lame, but with it being Christmas and all, I thought it would be fun to give a nod to some designs out there that have caught my eye of late. First up are a couple of designs from Stomach of Anger. As you have probably noticed, they are advertisers here on RKP. And judging from the out-clicks the ad has gotten, a great many of you have at least checked out their web site. I have to admit I was completely unfamiliar with them prior to them reaching out to advertise. I went and looked through their offerings and nearly laughed out loud when I saw the design above.

allezwiggo_1024x1024I like this Wiggins design because it riffs on another darling of England, The Who. It’s got a lot of my favorite qualities in a T-shirt: It is carried by an eye-catching design, depends on a certain amount of insider knowledge to make sense and most of all, it’s playful. And, of course, it’s a chance to make a statement about your views on your loves, or life in general. What’s not to like?

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Of course, some shirts are less playful than just out-and-out irreverent, such as this shirt featuring Floyd Landis in a Santa Claus hat accompanied by his now-famous quote: “At some point people have to tell their kids that Santa Claus isn’t real.” It is perhaps one of the few ways I’ve seen to laugh at the fallout subsequent to the USADA Reasoned Decision.

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Speaking of irreverent, the design above is being offered by Gage+Desoto. It was designed by the game studio Pajamahouse and takes a swipe at global warming. After all, if there’s no sea ice, the best option that polar bears, penguins and seals may have is the bicycle. I wish they had this in kids’ sizes; I’d get one for my son.

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No one takes irreverence more seriously than the artists at Kukuxumusu (say Koo-koo-choo-moo-soo). They’re a Basque company I first ran across close to 10 years ago when riding through the Pyrenees. Many of their shirts use recurring themes; some play (prey?) on the longstanding tensions between the French and the Spanish, with the French portrayed as frogs with bulging eyes and the Spanish characterized as bulls. Others take swipes at the Catholic church for the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the church worldwide.

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Recently, Kukuxumusu released its first cycling-themed shirt. In celebration of this year’s Vuelta start in Pamplona, the company teamed up with Miguel Indurain to offer a shirt that celebrated cycling. Some of their designs (particularly the ones celebrating the Festival of San Fermin) are like something straight out of Richard Scarry’s children’s books, with a cast of dozens and a great many ridiculous things worth noticing, if only you slow down enough to really look.

One of these days I’m going to talk them into doing a design for RKP. I have no idea how I’ll do this, or what subject might be used as it’s starting point, but I love what they do too much to give up.

 

 

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9 comments

  1. Chris

    I discovered Stomach of Anger when they did a T-shirt to raise money for Wouter Weylandt’s family after his fatal crash in the 2011 Giro. As a matter of fact, I wore that T-shirt today, although it is probably nearing retirement. It was a great design and a generous overture to attempt to help the family stricken by an event that I watched live. My stomach was in knots during the finish of that stage and I wept as the remaining 8 Sky riders, along with Tyler Farrar, crosses the finish line arm-in-arm the next day.

    Stomach of Anger did what they could after that event, so they’re alright in my books.

  2. Rod

    Ditto on the 108 shirt for Wouter’s family. Still got mine, and got a few for my LBS friends.

    The basque shirts are awesome! Thanks for that link.

    Rod

  3. Hoshie99

    Hey now – if you ever spent time in a slaughterhouse or dairy farm, veganism quite likely could make sense to you. I won’t even tell you why I quit eating veal….

    But no t-shirts – never!

  4. Dan O

    Give up t-shirts? Never! At 51 years old, I still rotate through my collection – bicycle, motorcycle, and music related – call me Dork Boy.

    Looked through the Stomach of Anger site – cool stuff…

  5. WV Cycling

    I grew up in a military family where my father put on his khaki uniform every day for as long as I can remember. Then most of the family activities involved affluent people in their boring slacks and ties.

    Sadly, I have grown up viewing these clothing based character attributes as part of being successful. I have more khakis than jeans, and more dress shirts than T-shirts. I still have most of my going on 10year old T-shirts from right out of high school, but alas…

    With a Volvo and khakis, is this what I dreamed of?

  6. 51,2

    Kukuxumusu totally rule, those vegan Basque separatists (the website used to have some politics, along with very nice screensavers). I’d buy several rkp t-shirts with Kukuxumusu design on them, and hand them out to like-minded old guys like me . My kids would buy them too. They also used to make other items, like spiral-bound notebooks with elephants whose trunks are making hand gestures. Great to take to boring work meetings and watch people try to figure out if they were rude gestures. Interested readers should search about them, an interesting story. And , surrounded by them as I am in our part of the midwest coast, I don’t get vegans either.

  7. Peter Lütken

    +1 for T6. I’ve worn my “Bike Nerd” shirt to two job interviews, both were successful (bike mechanics is my trade)
    As for Kukuxumusu, I guess their designs is a lot more common in Europe. My son has a 30cl steel “bidon” style bottle he brings with him to daycare, decorated with a scuba diving hedgehog crushing on a blowfish :)

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