From the category archives:


Ban T-shirts: The Interview pt.2

by Andy on September 7, 2006

And now for the concluding part of HYA’s interview with ‘The Dude’ from Ban T-shirts, if you missed the first part you can find it here:

5. If the Democrats were to make major gains in the November election, and then go on to win the Presidency in 2008, would you begin making t-shirts which criticised the decisions of a Democrat administration (although admittedly you do only have 1 tee that is specifically anti-Republican)?

Many people often assume that because we are anti-Republican we are pro-Democrat. That is not the case for the reasons I gave to the previous question. However it is highly unlikely that we would make anti-Democrat T-shirts, mainly because our core audience is not going to wear them as it would make them look like right-wingers. What we WILL continue to do is make shirts that attack specific issues. If we think the Democrat administration is wrong about something we will say so, but it will always be done our way, it won’t be a case of taking sides with the Republicans, it will be dealt with from a left-wing point of view.

6. Do you view ban t-shirts as a business, or as more of a grass-roots political movement?

Ban T-shirts is a business with a political opinion as well as a reason for existing that goes beyond making money. I wouldn’t call it a grass-roots political movement but I would say that it is part of a widespread political movement that is yearning for change in society.

7. Do you ever feel limited creatively that your designs have to have a political slant?

Well, it’s interesting that you ask that because a few of our designs are non-political (we throw them in the “attitude t-shirts” section of the site!). When I first started doing designs I did a few non-political ones. I think that although the site is chiefly political in nature that people won’t mind seeing the odd non-political shirt up there.

8. Considering your business involves controversial material and opinions, do you ever receive hate mail from people that oppose your views, and have you had any reports of people feeling discriminated against due to their wearing of one of your products?

Yes, I occasionally get hate mail, although it seems to have died down a bit recently – I expect it will pick up again as we get closer to 2008. It’s all pretty much the same “you idiot, you hate America, our troops are fighting for your freedoms, blah, blah, blah”. Most customers seem to receive compliments on their shirts but inevitably they will receive the odd sneer or tut-tut from passing right-wingers. [on a side note, when I wore my Ban T-shirts ‘Fortress America‘ tee to a club on Satruday, the only American I met insisted on (physically) pointing out where he used to live, and when I told him that the tee was about the immigration debate he just told me that it take 13 hours to fly to Japan… politics is dead amongst young drunk backpackers in loud nightclubs]

9. Clearly a business needs to sell its products to be successful, do your designs ever have to be altered to make them commercially viable, or are you willing to take a hit financially in order to better represent your own beliefs?

I’ve never altered a design to make it more acceptable to anyone. There is some pretty hard-hitting stuff on the site and it’s going to stay that way. We do have some t-shirts that you could wear to your aunty’s but each issue has to be dealt with in its own way. We don’t go out of our way to be offensive but if an issue calls for harsh language then we’ll use harsh language (and imagery)!

10.Lastly, George W. Bush, great President, or the greatest President?

Wow, that’s like asking me if I prefer Coca-Cola or Pepsi… and that’s not really what you would call “freedom”, is it?

I hope that you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I did, and hopefully this Brit hasn’t made too much of a fool of himself trying to discuss American politics.


Ban T-shirts: The Interview pt.1

by Andy on September 5, 2006

I recently sent some questions over to someone I know only as ‘the Dude’, sounds secretive, no?

Well, not really, he’s the person behind Ban T-shirts, a tee company ‘deconstructing society shirt by shirt’, and he’s got some pretty strong opinions:

1. At a time when liberalism is fashionable amongst the younger elements of American society, do you worry that your designs will be worn more of a popular fashion statement rather than as a means to express one’s political beliefs?

I think it’s important that people identify with issues and causes, as well as promote awareness of them. Wearing a political T-shirt can help with both those things. If people think they look cool then I see that as an advantage because it means they’re more likely to want to wear them.

2. Your feelings regarding George W. Bush are made plainly clear in your anti-Bush section, and whilst many of your shoppers will agree with you, do you feel that a t-shirt with a picture of a young Bush next to the slogan “I liked Bush when he was a smackhead” pushes things a bit too far? Especially considering there is no concrete evidence (that I could find readily on Google) of hard drug abuse, he has said that he will make no comment upon drug allegations fearing that it would encourage youth to indiscretion (which isn’t exactly a denial…). In a separate but related question, is it really a good idea to produce a t-shirt with a possible libellous slogan on it?

The whole idea with the smackhead shirt is really just that politicians, and particularly Bush, need to chill out a little more. There is a lot of hypocrisy regarding issues such as drug use and sex and I think it is unhealthy especially at a time when the religious right is gaining such a strong hold on American politics. Young people, in fact not just young people but probably many people of all ages, would appreciate a little honesty from politicians and for them to stop trying to come across as squeaky clean.

As far as the slogan being libelous goes, it would certainly take American politics to new heights of ridiculousness for the Bush administration to take a t-shirt vendor to court because they didn’t agree with the wording on a shirt. I’m sure it would help sales, though!

3. Jon Stewart has commented on the Daily Show that sometimes the comedy just writes itself, would you agree that the current Bush administration has given you a lot of ammunition for satire and slogans? Or would you have found just as much material during the Clinton administration?

I think that during this administration there has been a lot of brazen lying that has resulted in tragic consequences both for the US and other countries. I would like to see Jon Stewart’s comment in context, but I personally would not call what is going on in American politics comedy. The neo-cons have their own agenda which is not good for America or anybody else and there is a large segment of the American population that does not see that or which is feels so powerless that it does not care enough to do anything about it. To answer your question, though, yes, the Bush administration does provide me with plenty of ammunition for slogans because of its behavior. I think there certainly was material, and plenty of it, during the Clinton administration, but it was probably not in the public eye so much as what is going on now, mainly due to the Republican obsession with attacking Clinton’s character.

4. Do you feel that for your business to be successful it is necessary for George Bush to have low approval ratings and for policy to be dictated by hawkish neo-cons? If there was to be more bipartisanship within American government and an alignment (or at least compromise) between the Democrats and Republicans on key issues of policy, is it possible that there would be less interest in your brand, and sales would fall as a result?

I think that because of the internet people are now much more aware of issues than they were before, not just personalities. There are a lot of alternative news services out there now and lots of blogs giving non-mainstream opinions on current affairs, I don’t think it is so easy to pull the wool over people’s eyes as it was, say 20 years ago. People are fed up with the status quo in American politics and realize that there is next to no difference between a Republican administration and a Democrat one. Their lives are going to be pretty much the same whoever is in power. People are sick of the stalemate and they’re starting to demand real changes. So, I think that there is a significant number of people who are going to continue to buy our shirts, whoever is in power. That said, current events do have an effect on sales, it’s only natural that that is going to happen.

That should be about enough for now, check back in tomorrow for the conclusion of the interview, where I totally rip off one of Stephen Colbert’s favourite questions.

Find the concluding part of the interview here.

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Piers Fawkes interviews Oddica

by Andy on September 1, 2006

As part of the series about the ‘online t-shirt revolution‘ (the explosion of small labels on the internet), PSFK have lived up to their remit as trend-spotters and have conducted an interview with Oddica. I must admit that there wasn’t much in the interview that surprised me, but then again, I have been a close follower of Oddica and its rapid evolution, so if you aren’t quite as tee obsessed as I am, you’ll probably enjoy the read, even if one of the commenter felt that it was a “over inflated self indulgent chummy article” (if you haven’t got anything nice to say…).

PFSK interviews Oddica


As a logical follow up to yesterdays first half of the interview with Rafael Vera of The Handsome Sausage, I present, shockingly enough, the second half.

I’m a stickler for not crowding the front-page, questions and answers after the jump.
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One of my favourite aspects of writing Hide Your Arms is that I get to interact with a creative community of young designers who are out there doing something different from the norm.

Un-earthing great clothes and showing them to readers is very rewarding (as are the freebies…), but sometimes I like to try something a bit different and get a greater understanding for what inspires the clothing that I promote here on Hide Your Arms.

With that in mind I asked Rafael Vera, from The Handsome Sausage, if he would like to do an interview. My charm and wit clearly won through, as he agreed to and promptly answered my (admittedly uninspiring) questions.

First four questions from the interview after the jump:
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