It seems like every kid with a pirated copy of Photoshop, an account on deviantART and an eye for vectors and monochromatic color schemes has his own T-shirt line these days. And websites like threadless.com—a T-shirt design contest website of sorts—are where all (or some) of that product turns up. Last year alone, the online enclave sold $6.2 million worth of T-shirts.
So yeah, it's not too difficult designing your own Tees: you know, something punny or ironic (usually illustrated by something really freaking cute—like, I don't know, a squirrel wearing a sailor hat blowing rails off a pink toilet or something); reference something hip (a current submission on threadless.com features the Dali Llama—complete with wire-thin handlebar mustache); and remember, if you're going to include text, it has to be either in all lowercase or all caps (hip fonts as of late: Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, Gill Sans MT, Century Gothic). Proper capitalization is a big faux pas in the design world.
But the hard part is actually getting people to wear your designs.
This guy here, though, doesn't seem to be having any trouble with that. On any given day at UC Irvine, you might see five or more kids wearing his Riot 5 Tees around. And there is always an abundance of people signed up whenever a new batch of shirts are due out—all printed on sweatshop-labor-free, American-made T-shirts, of course. The shirt features an eye-popping turquoise, linear drawing of a man, just to the left of some all-caps text in the same shade of turquoise on a brown American Apparel slim-fitting Tee. Turquoise and brown? One of the best (and not that popular) color combinations around.
Paired over a yellow Tee and with some dark, skinny Levis, this outfit gains even more street cred because of its consistent DIY mentality—even the cap, an old Ambiguous trucker hat with a crude cover-up paint job, has that unruffled made-at-home look to it. His mostly purple-and-red flannel and the gold Fauxlex he picked up while studying abroad over the summer in Mexico add his own personal touch to a seemingly blah ensemble. The best part, though, has to be the Converse Chuck Taylors, featuring an intricate hand-drawn rose outline design.
And the trucker hat? He insists he's going to "bring it back."
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