Elevating the T-shirt to, well, low couture
December 18, 2009
I know T-shirts – worn one virtually every day for the past 35 years. (And if it hadn’t worn literally to shreds, it would have been the same one every one of those days: the Grateful Dead tee that read, “Eat, Drink and See Jerry.”)
I know what T-shirts are meant for: to pledge your allegiance to a sports team and to warn strangers that you have gas and know how to use it. Tees seem to have become increasingly clever: one with the image of an oversized sandwich, underscored by the four-letter phrase “SILF,” had the newsroom cracking up recently.
So T-shirts are a great means to convey base impulses. I never would have thought of them as a luxury item. Till I pulled an Alp-n-Rock tee onto my previously umpampered body, and moved into a new dimension of low-couture bliss. The long-sleeved shirt, made of organic cotton and recycled polyester, is thick, indulgently soft. I feel guilty wearing such a thing in the midst of a recession. (To ease those pangs, take comfort in the knowledge that part of the sales proceeds fund the building of girls’ elementary schools in developing countries.) But I was also thrilled: I woke up in the middle of the night the day after putting on the shirt and, I kid you not, the first thing on my mind was slipping back into my Alp-n-Rock.
The impact wasn’t limited to my personal tactile experience; clearly, it made a visual impression. Among the immediate, totally unprompted responses from those around me:
“It’s like a medieval Aspen motorcycle shirt.”
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“You look like an advertisement.”
The visual design of the Alp-n-Rock line is inspired by famous European ski resorts, but a little something seems to have been lost in the translation from Alps to Rockies. My Aspen-centric tee says “Snowmass” down one sleeve, while “Ajax Highlands Buttermilk” are relegated to the back, squeezed together in small print. Makes me suspect whoever designed the shirt hasn’t actually been to Aspen.
Small matter. I’ve spent a lifetime living in T-shirts that were all about the message. I think I can get used to a tee that is all about the material.