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Carlos J. Morales

Review: Propaganda Clothing Company

by Carlos J. Morales on November 5, 2013

The beauty of the t-shirt culture is that it is constantly inspiring individuals to create something unique and personal to them. If the designs themselves are wearable stories then designers/brand owners are the authors. When I received the email from Propaganda Clothing Company, I was excited to dive in and see what their story was.

Propaganda Clothing Company is a brand based out of Orlando, Florida, but their dark theme is far from Disney World inspired. They use a blunt motto that states “art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth” and are strongly against “attaching a nonsensical graphic to a t-shirt”. After reading their mission statement, I was prepared to open the package – to my surprise it contained two shirts. Before analyzing the two designs, I noticed both shirts were tagless and had their logo printed. This is one the best ways a brand can promote their identity without going over the top, so I thought it was a nice touch.

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As far as the designs go, I will admit I was a bit caught off guard at first. The T800 A.D. Robot Jesus was a bit out there, but like I said earlier the author is always entitled to write his story. Who knows this shirt may cater to the religious terminator fan in you?

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From a design perspective, I thought printing on a black t-shirt was a smart choice as it allowed the colors to pop. However, I did think the design was a bit busy for everyday usage. It would be interesting to see robot Jesus (yes, you read correctly) in greyscale with the left eye shining red. Overall, I thought it was an unique design, but maybe a bit too messy to put on a shirt, it would look cleaner on a poster.

Exclusive: Expose Your Arms Review

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I am not much of tanktop guy and Hide Your Arms normally only review t-shirts, but since the owners were nice enough to send me one… I will review it! This design, Norma Jean, was a bit more conservative and it helped tremendously. Unlike the first design, this tank features a cleaner look using the likeness of Marilyn Monroe. While designs like these are not the most original, they are a great way for people to notice your brand. In this regard, this design was an intelligent move on their part; the soft shades of gray intertwining with the black and white makes it stylistically pleasant.

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Overall, I think Propaganda Clothing Company has a lot to figure out and I mean this in a good way. For a start up brand, they have a catalog of designs and the quality of material they print on is comfortable. However, the two designs featured do not really sit well next to each other. In other words, it looks and feels as if they belong to different brands. Propaganda Clothing Company is a new brand with an unique take on what t-shirts should represent. If they tighten up a few design issues and focus a bit more on brand identity in their designs, they will be in great shape as they move forward.

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Thread Confessions: Thanks For Reading!

by Carlos J. Morales on August 4, 2013

When I first started collecting t-shirts, I was young trying to understand life as a sophomore in high school. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be involved with or writing for a website like Hide Your Arms. Andy is a true class act and I am honored to be on the roster of such talented writers. There is nothing more exciting than helping indie brands get the spotlight they deserve. As a token of gratitude, I have installed a permanent discount code for Hide Your Arms readers - HYA gets you 25% off any collaboration in the Oven Fresh Dreams store.  For those of you who do not know, I am a barista and baker by trade – Oven Fresh Dreams is my online collective that intertwines my lifestyle with the stories of all the creative people I encounter.

“When I started baking (before I truly knew what I was doing), I was influenced by many creative types. This list includes Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle, Benny Gold, Mike Giant, Freegums, and a handful of other wonderful people. The artistic vision behind these artists and business owners inspire me to take O.F.D to unreachable heights. Keeping that in mind, I want to showcase the talents of the people I encounter in my journey by teaming up and releasing a series of limited collaborations. Now known as The Collaborate & Dream Series – the series focuses on printable mediums; t-shirts, posters, prints, and zines with the hopes of elevating the exposure of the artists I work with. There is nothing more important to me than helping artists tell their stories and share their gift with the world.”

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Thank you all for being amazing. I hope to review more brands for Hide Your Arms for months to come and can not wait for you to read!

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Red Light: Blue Turtle Tees Review

by Carlos J. Morales on July 10, 2013

Before diving into the review, let me start by apologizing for this latish post. It amazes me how packages, in this day and age, can get lost in the system. Now that my sample from Blue Turtle Tees has escaped the United States Postal Matrix, we can finally sit down and discuss the contents of the package. Any guesses on what it could be? If this is your first time visiting Hide Your Arms, the answer is a t-shirt.

Blue Turtle Tees – a brand that was started between friends who are into art, music, photography, and self-expression. The concept sounds reasonable and a lot of potential can come from it. A wise man once said, a team of creative minds is better than one creative mind. Okay… I am not sure if anyone has said that exact quote, but it is not a far fetched idea. Keeping this concept in mind, Blue Turtle Tees comes off as incomplete. In other words, it is at its skeleton stage – a solid concept, but lacks meat on its bones. However, I am not here to review the brand or its identity, it all comes down to the t-shirt itself.

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At first glance, you will notice the subtle red and white of the design on this navy blue shirt. The bright colors pop just enough to reel you in; the beauty of printing on dark color shirts. Another thing to note is that Blue Turtle Tees prints on American Apparel, so do not fret when thinking about the colors dulling after a few washes. The print quality also matches the thread quality; smooth to the touch and comfortable to wear. All in all, I think the shirt does the Roxanne reference justice. To be honest, the only thing I could live without was the random use of their logo on the bottom-right side of the t-shirt. It felt out of place and did not improve the presentation by any means.

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If there is anything to walk with, it is this: the t-shirt itself is a decent debut t-shirt from a young brand. Given the right series; this shirt would totally be worth the $24.99. However, the lack of website presentation and sub-par collection alienates this design. While I understand this is not a brand review, the price tag of a t-shirt should reflect the overall presentation of the brand thus making this offer a bit over priced. Blue Turtle Tees is young and probably full of wonderful ideas, if they continue to put out designs similar to this one they may attract more t-shirt wearers.

 

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Hands-on Review: Seattle’s Choke Shirt Co.

by Carlos J. Morales on June 7, 2013

There is nothing more inspiring than two people sitting down and brainstorming – welcome to Choke Shirt Co. Born in Matt and Jeff’s apartment, Choke Shirt Co. has risen to be a Seattle based hero’s tale. What started as a weekend project at the Fremont Farmer’s Market has turned into a dream like reality for the two who started it all; currently stocked in 150+ locations around the United States. Now with a handful of employees Choke Shirt Co. is trying to leave their mark in the fashion world with their “we can do it better attitude”.

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It is always a treat to have a shirt delivered in simple and presentable packaging. In my opinion, over the top packaging can take away from the uniqueness of the t-shirt designs. However, this is a t-shirt review and not a packaging review… onto the shirts! Choke Shirt Co. clearly knows a thing or two about comfort; their designs are printed on American Apparel tri-blend shirts – loose and cozy. The print itself is also smooth to the touch and is well integrated, which earns Choke Shirt Co. bonus points due to the fact they print their t-shirts in house.

The designs themselves are playful and unique, which will appeal to a wide range of people. For example, the Gazelle Gazette speaks to me – placing of the design over words and the fact its wearing glasses. Attention to detail is key and that is why I think there will be a shirt for everyone in the Choke Shirt Co. catalog. Even being a cat person, I know that the Bad Day design will win the heart of dog lovers everywhere.

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In the end, $24.99 is a standard price for t-shirts now a days and Choke Shirt Co. delivers above standard quality. If you have the time to check out their catalog, do it. Once you find your shirt, you can expect it to fit nicely and look great.

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Take a Look: Four Eye Designs

by Carlos J. Morales on May 10, 2013

In fashion, it is easy to over analyze concept and branding. Four Eye Designs shows us that a brand can start by accident. Matt Ulery, owner of Four Eye Designs, is a man who fell in love with t-shirt printing after a six week class. Before he knew it, he was printing t-shirts that were inspired by his interaction with family and friends. Matt was nice enough to send me a few t-shirts (and then some) to review and I can not thank him enough.

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After opening the package, I was immediately impressed by the quality of the print. I personally have a weak spot for American Apparel shirts, but it is always unfortunate when the print is “caked on”. Not only is it uncomfortable, it is guaranteed to crack after a handful of washes. Matt uses water-based inks because it provides a fade free, vibrant, and extremely soft print. With that being said, each t-shirt felt comfortable to wear and was a bit a loose fitting – something I enjoy.  The designs themselves were simple and straightforward, which was refreshing.

 

Plant Sex Makes Me Sneeze – It is sad how relevant this design is right now. There are millions of allergy suffers in the world, why not wear a shirt that bands us together? I personally enjoy the dandelion usage. Disclaimer: be careful what you wish for.

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Four Ever and a Day - As a writer and a typography enthusiast, I love this shirt. The colorway is attractive and let’s be honest for a second, you can not go wrong with a classic saying on a t-shirt. The switch of for with four was an effective way to add a bit of branding in the mix.

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Logo – While the colorway is not my cup of tea, it is perfect for the warmer months in New York City. This shirt is not available in the store and is included randomly in orders. The logo shirt is always a bit basic, which is a good thing. It is represents the vision of the owner and is probably the most important t-shirt you can wear for a brand.

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Overall, I think Four Eyed Designs is a brand for those who appreciate life and all of its quirkiness. While the designs may not stand out conceptually, the available collection is simple and clean.

 

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Ichie Apparel Makes Its Splash

by Carlos J. Morales on April 4, 2013

There are a lot of brands in the world with various principle focuses; food, typography, dinosaurs, etc. You name a topic and there is probably a brand dedicated to it. In the sea that is independent apparel, Toronto’s own Ichie Apparel tries to make its splash by focusing on artistry and quality. Their mission is simple and honest – inspire creative minds by showcasing creativity in their designs.

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I can not thank Richard Park, owner of Ichie Apparel, enough for the t-shirt and letter. A personal note is never a bad thing to receive with your t-shirt, so I appreciate the humbling gesture. The design that arrived at my doorstep is known as Kishi Kashi ($34)  and is described in their webstore as the struggle of life and death. When trying on the t-shirt I was pleasantly surprised on how soft the fabric was. I am not sure if it is an American Apparel blank, but Park promises that the shirt is 100% cotton, and sweatshop free. The fit was a little bit snug, but not too tight. I would totally feel comfortable wearing it out and about. The design itself was a vinyl print which holds up fairly well after a few washes and if you have the slightest bit of peeling, Ichie Apparel will replace it for you! I do not know about you, but that is a plus in my book. It is the little things that help you stand out and good customer service sure is one of them. As far as the aesthetics of the design, it seemed pretty basic in comparison to some of the other designs available (my favorites being Geisha and Dragon). However, basic most certainly does not mean bad. While the helmet covering the half mask half skull represents the struggle of life and death well, I would have liked a bit more detail to help the design stand out.

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Overall, Ichie Apparel has strong theme of Japanese culture featured in their t-shirts. Personally, I think this direction can lead to a beautiful collection and Ichie Apparel will sure get there. In regards to pricing while $34 may seem steep think about the facts; the material is comfortable, the print will not scratch or peel (and will be replace if it does), and the designs are hand drawn by artists who want to inspire you with their works. Now think about the price tag when you include all of those factors in… I thought so. I look forward to seeing this brand expand its collection and plan on picking up shirts in the future.

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Toughmuck: To Fold Or Not To Fold

by Carlos J. Morales on March 14, 2013

Let me start by saying I am not much of a poker player, but I am known to gamble every now and then – life is what you make of it. Toughmuck is a brand that focuses on that notion. In their eyes life is a game filled with highs and lows, so we must learn how to make the right decisions when playing. The term muck means to fold, so the idea of a toughmuck is knowing when to let things go even when it is hard to do so.

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When I opened my package, I found a note and a logo shirt – simple enough, right?   I will be honest with you, I am sucker when it comes to baseball  script. While some reviewers may say it is safe and over done design, I think it is clean and effective. Now let’s talk a little bit more about the t-shirt, shall we? Normally, I would start off by focusing on the overall fit – however, I was sent a medium due to sales. While I was a bit bummed, at least we can see Toughmuck is off to a good start with their brand! The quality of material did feel comfortable – perfect for sweating when life hands you the worst cards possible.  If quality doesn’t sell you on this shirt, maybe the subtle branding will.  I appreciate that the people behind Toughmuck understand less is more.

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Overall, this is a classic looking t-shirt. With that being said, it is still hard to tell if people without a poker playing background would relate to Toughmuck. Their message is noble one that speaks to a certain audience and I would like to see them develop their brand a bit more.

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Connection Made: Magnet Apparel

by Carlos J. Morales on December 27, 2012

Remember when I told you back in November that Magnet Apparel was an unique brand that focused on connectivity? It is now December,  I’ve tested the code and tried on the shirt, but is Magnet Apparel ready to connect with you in 2013?

 

First, let’s discuss the QR code that is stitched on the bottom left corner of each shirt. The concept alone is great idea, being able to connect with other Magnet Apparel wearers by scanning the custom QR code and creating  profile through their site truly separates them from other brands in the industry. However, when I tried to set a profile of my own I kept getting an error message at the username/password screen. I was kind of bummed out by this, but it could have been my phone acting up or something technical beyond my knowledge. With that being said, the QR code system when working is something worth looking into.

Now let’s talk t-shirts, shall we?

Base Jump” – It’s everything you would expect from a logo t-shirt, reasonably priced ($19.99), clean looking, and represents the brand well (it’s their logo after all). The t-shirt (size: small) was surprisingly loose fitting for a slim fit, which I personally enjoy. The print quality was also on point and wasn’t too thick.

Future Vintage Genesis” – The design itself, a playful version of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, screams connectivity. I  love the robot hand on the front of the shirt (you can never go wrong with robots). The shirt had a similar fit to the “Base Jump” design, but the print quality was a little too cakey for me. Between the main graphic on the front and the spots printed around the shirt – it feels a bit heavy. By no means is this shirt unwearable, it is just not as comfortable as the logo shirt.

Overall, I think Magnet Apparel has a great concept with high quality threads. 2013 is right around the corner and I think there is going to be a lot of connections made. Hopefully, one of them will be you!

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Connect With Magnet Apparel

by Carlos J. Morales on November 9, 2012

Magnet Apparel is an Arizona based brand that focuses on connectivity. I personally love when brands realize the importance of building a community. The creative minds behind Magnet Apparel plan to achieve greatness through the connective spirit of today’s youth through bold design and product innovation – sounds like a splendid idea. Right?

What really grabs my attention is the QR code on every shirt. Apparently, a customer is able to scan the code, set up a profile, and link a social networking site of their choice (Twitter, Facebook, etc).  Needless to say, I am drawn to this concept and the ideas behind Magnet Apparel.

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