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Hands-on Review: 8BIT t-shirts

by Chris_S on April 14, 2013

Post image for Hands-on Review: 8BIT t-shirts

Retro has become a huge niche market in almost all areas – t-shirts included. And one t-shirt company out of Ireland are taking advantage of that rise in popularity of all things retro.

8BIT has a collection of carefully designed tees based on the glory days of retro gaming. The 8-bit era produced some of the best games and established the modern-day industry as it stands now. Their limited edition run of shirts (snap them up quick: there are only four designs, and each design only has 100 or 125 versions) appeal to the kind of person who lived through the 8-bit era the first time round, and now wants to show their love for their childhood with a beautifully crafted piece of clothing.

That care in the end product comes as soon as you receive the package. Your tee is encased in a brilliant white box, sturdy enough to keep the quarry inside clean and tidy but not too heavy.

And once you open the box, and take aside the tissue paper and the cool postcard with an old-school Gameboy on a washed out beach, you realise that the shirt inside is pretty great, too. The design I received was ‘001 – Grace’ (€30) which is a limited print run of 125 (mine was #19).

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It’s a luscious representation of the kind of huge sprites from the classic era of 8-bit games that you grew up with; this footballer performing an overhead kick could have been ripped right out of something like Amiga’s Sensible Soccer franchise.

The quality is great, as you’d expect from a company so invested in producing the great packaging they do. The tiny touches such as a nicely presented package are one of the best ways to separate the wheat from the chaff in an industry where the ability to enter it is becoming ever lower. Those who take pride in their work will make sure to present it neatly.

The tee is a thick, soft one, and it holds up well in a wash. Overall, if the bright lights of the 1980s and early 90s gaming world is your thing, you should head on over to 8BIT and grab yourself a tee.

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Hands on with a blu-boy tee

by Chris_S on February 4, 2013

Post image for Hands on with a blu-boy tee

This little package arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. In case you’re incapable of reading, it’s a package from blu-boy, a tee brand started up by Bev O’Shea when a freelance graphic designer in Ireland. “I guess it’s safe to say that I got bored of playing it safe and sticking to the norm,” Bev said in a covering email. Not sticking to the norm results in some brilliant t-shirts.

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Opening the package was great. For what is a relatively young brand, blu-boy have managed to put together a really professional style of presentation that makes receiving a tee more of an event. As a little attempt to bring something new I used Vine to produce a 6-second unboxing of the shirt itself here.

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The shirt blu-boy sent was their ‘Exquisite’ design (€25.00) on a black crew neck – and I can’t fault it one bit. It’s one of the least brash designs they do, and I think the sort of understated nature makes it excellent. I’m a strong type fan, and this is great use of it. It’s subtle enough that you don’t feel overly self-conscious wearing it while standing out enough that it’s not the sort of thing you find ten a penny on the racks at any high street shop.

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Everything about this seems well made, from the thick card stock used for the brand tag on the back of the neck to the printing itself (blu-boy use water-based inks, for those of you who are concerned about the environment and want your tees to have a green-friendly provenance).

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All told, this is a really great tee – which means I’m stuck for having much to say. What I will say is that this isn’t the only good design that the guys at blu-boy have online, and it’s well worth a look at their online store to see if there are any others out there you might fancy.

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Review: Awake and Dressed

by Chris_S on October 26, 2012

Post image for Review: Awake and Dressed

Awake and Dressed is a motto for my life. I’m not someone who likes to faff about in the morning, lying in bed. I have to be up and about fairly quickly, otherwise the day’s not worth counting.

My Old Dutch (£29.99) is the sort of design typical of Awake and Dressed. It’s becoming increasingly fashionable, and (I mean this as a compliment rather than an insult) is the sort of thing you’d see in a branch of Triple S, or in a club on a weekend.

The design’s pretty great – and you’ve got to hand it to Jonny Wolf, because the whole thing is deliciously packaged. The print quality of the design is razor sharp, and has blended in with the shirt fabric brilliantly. This isn’t one of those designs that feels like it’s slathered on the shirt and is so thick that it artificially shapes it in perfect straight angles. The whole shirt is supple and giving.

In fact, it’s the shirt quality I want to talk about. I’ve got a lot of tees in my cupboard, and this one is – to my mind – the smoothest wear I’ve had. It’s so soft! I haven’t been able to put it to the test with several washes to see if that changes things, but certainly on first wear it’s like a second skin. Really, the only thing I can fault is the price – at nearly £30 it’s a little steep for my tastes, but then again maybe I’m just thrifty. Plus when you wear it you begin to realise that you’re paying for a premium product, not just an overinflated price tag.

These are the sort of t-shirts that people want to be seen in these days; they’re very fashionable. And I haven’t seen many brands doing it better than Awake and Dressed.

(Costliness = £29.99)

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Review: Tee Pony has a terrible name, good shirts

by Chris_S on October 14, 2012

Post image for Review: Tee Pony has a terrible name, good shirts

Andy already mentioned Tee Pony a little while back and had nice things to say about their designs – so naturally, we decided here at HYA to delve a little deeper and get hands-on with a review.

Tim from Tee Pony sent along release 014 – Gorilla for me to wrestle with, along with a nice little note, a business card and a handy carrying bag for the whole package. On a purely decorative note, it’s great to see tee brands putting this much effort into the presentation of their work. As Tee Pony say on their site, they’re a boutique, limited-run (500 pieces a pop) tee company and it’s good to have a little theatre introduced into the product. You want to have the anticipation of unwrapping the shirt. It makes it much of a bigger deal – and so the little touches add to the excitement.

The tee is a super soft stock, and the printing is great. The reason why I’m so keen on this design is that it’s one of the least outlandish on the site. Andy’s already made his views clear on a lot of the Tee Pony designs: the good, original ones are great; the lesser ones which rely on pop culture references kind of bring the brand down.

That’s a note that really can be carried over to other tee companies – and actually, to almost any company or brand there is. You don’t want your work to date – especially if customers are paying £29 for an exclusive tee. You want a lot of wear out of it, and you want to be able to return to it in five years time and not have it look dated (try wearing a Budweiser ‘Whassssup?’ t-shirt today without being laughed out of a club. The way fashion works you could stuff it at the back of a drawer for another five years and it becomes ironically retro, but still…)

In response to Tim from Tee Pony’s note, I am enjoying the tee. In fact, it’s had two wears (and a wash each time, thanks!) in the first week of owning it, and I’ve had a couple of positive comments about it. These guys are putting out a great product and are a brill new addition to the tee world. Keep checking back with them for their new designs each week: the current bike-based one looks superb.

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Post image for Mechanic Industries combines magic and gambling

Most people I know have a sideline these days. It might be that they clean cars on weekends from their day job; others might enjoy going to horse tracks and becoming a part-time professional gambler. So it’s encouraging to see a t-shirt designer who has a sideline too. We got an email from Jimmy K at Mechanic Industries explaining how his day job parlayed into a sideline (which then transformed into a tee brand. Stick with me!):

A Mechanic is a card cheat that utilizes advanced sleight-of-hand techniques to gain advantage over their opponents. Mechanic Industries give magicians the competitive edge with an arsenal of premium products. This advanced product line taps into the very essence of what Magic & Gambling is all about – advantage.
Appearing in June of 2012, Mechanic Industries Ltd is based in the UK and specializes in the design and production of the highest quality gaming & gambling products for use by magicians, flourishers, poker enthusiasts and avid gambling fans alike. We are fanatical card magicians, poker players and leading designers. It is our aim to become the premium retailer for all things magic and gaming. 
So of course it makes perfect sense for them to start designing t-shirts too. There’s only the one design at the minute (‘Work Wear’, £24.99) but I like it, and it comes in three different colours. These guys might be a brand to watch in the future.

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Black Thunder are a first for HYA

by Chris_S on July 7, 2012

Post image for Black Thunder are a first for HYA

Portgual hasn’t given a lot to the world, to be honest. You’ve got a lot of salt cod (but that’s also popular – and more associated – with Scandinavian countries), and Christiano Ronaldo (who isn’t necessarily the best face you want to put forward). But now there’s another thing to add that Portugal has contributed to the world: Black Thunder Clothing Company.

Black Thunder was founded in 2008 by the graphic designer and illustrator André Silva, and they put out a variety of brash and bold t-shirts which would look great on the streets of Lisbon or some other continental city. Oversized illustrations and ballsy type make this the sort of thing you wear if you want to get noticed, but it’s quite hedonistic (especially their lookbook for the Summer ’12 line). We’re pleased to say that they’re Portgual’s first entry on HYA, and we’re happy to welcome them.

If this sort of thing’s your style, then the shirts are priced fairly competitively, from €12.50 to €15. It’s maybe not the sort of thing I’d wear (I like my designs more subtle), but there’s definitely a market for this sort of shirt when done well – and to my eyes it seems that Black Thunder are doing precisely that.

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Random Objects ring in the summer

by Chris_S on June 9, 2012

Post image for Random Objects ring in the summer

I’ve just spent a weekend in a caravan in Wales, and though it rained solidly for one day, the other two days were bright, sunny and almost Mediterranean. That can mean one thing: it’s summer time.

Of course, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s much better to rely on Random Objects’s summer line release. We’ve written extensively in the past about this brand, and regular readers will know we’re a fan. Luckily the Summer ’12 releases (or rather, the first part as the press release we were sent teases) look to validify our good faith.

‘Be Polite’ (up top, $24) is a great example of a strong typographic tee. In a bright blue, the white text really stands out and it’s the little details such as the highlighting of the “and” which really separates this from the sort of thing you can pick up for ten bucks on Cafepress. It also preaches a good motto too: if I could, I’d be asking Random Objects very poliltely if they’d let me do a wear test on this design.

The other three designs are a little less strong to my eyes, but are nonetheless something which would fit well in any wardrobe. I’m not a fan of tank tops, but for those who are ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’ ($20) would be a great buy. It’s the sort of thing you’d wear in Instagrammed photos with the sun streaking across the sky behind you.

‘A Sailor’s Life’ ($24) looks like a shirt you’d buy in a high-end department store (which isn’t meant as a slight) and has an inspirational message; ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ ($24) is a smart play on the age-old turn of phrase which is equal parts cute and scary. Most importantly, I can imagine wearing all of them with some shorts while padding along the beach. Summer is here people! Enjoy it!

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All hail our robot overlords!

by Chris_S on May 21, 2012

Post image for All hail our robot overlords!

Robots are cool. I think that much we can all agree on, right? I mean, there’s been a fixation on robots for about the past 70 years, with sci-fi films and utopian visions of the future imagining that we’d all be living in space pods, served by robots wearing French maid outfits with pneumatic silver boobs. For some reason, robots just capture the imagination. They seem to connect with us as an image of our potential: eventually we will be able to master creating humanity (of sorts) and will render it in metal.

Which is why I like these two shirts by Design By Humans quite so much. They popped up in my inbox as part of a regular email from the site, and I was drawn to them immediately. You’ve got two separate designs here, I think. Halftone Robot by Old30Bastard is very much a hipster Transformer. It takes up the whole tee, and its shapes are angular and true to life. I particularly like that the robot’s head looks like its a repurposed boombox. At $15, you’d be criminal not to get this.

Then there’s the slightly more expensive ($20) Violin Bot. It’s cute, it’s quirky and it’s the sort of thing you’d see in Futurama. In fact, I’m not entirely sure a similar idea wasn’t in an episode of Futurama when Bender starts a band, playing himself like a washboard. BUt if anything that makes me want this thing more. It’s a beautiful design and it’s sure to bring a smile to people’s faces.

Costiness: $15/$20

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Post image for United Colours of Avengers t-shirt is awesome

 

I haven’t yet seen The Avengers. I haven’t yet seen half of the films which acted as 90-minute trailers for The Avengers Assemble. But yet I want this t-shirt. It’s a big deal, and it’s the sort of thing which is going to cross over into the mainstream from sheer nerdy geek chic. You’ve got to be careful with things that start in geekdom, though: often, what geeks wear isn’t what most of us (even though we’re at heart a similar breed) would wear in public.

But ‘United Colours of Avengers’ by Somethinggeeky does seem to bridge the gap. It comes in a t-shirt and hoodie, and at a smidgen under £12 it’s what I’d class as a bargain. Some people who know about The Avengers will get this; others who don’t will just see it as a cool, bold and colourful design. Whack it in your shopping basket and get it in your wardrobe rotation: that’s my assessment.

Costliness = £11.99/£19.99

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“Melting” Rubik’s Cube by Glennz

by Chris_S on May 2, 2012

Post image for “Melting” Rubik’s Cube by Glennz

Okay, so given the frequency of posts about Glennz you might think we have a little t-shirt crush on him. But we can’t help the fact that the guy turns out fantastic designs time and time again. This one’s another major hit.

“Melting” is something I sometimes wish I could do to the Rubik’s Cube sitting on my bedroom shelf. It’s been there for about 10 years. Every few months I pick it up and twiddle it, often messing up any good work I’d done before. Then it gets set down again, ready to collect dust. If the universe wants to combine to concentrate the sun’s power on the cube and melt it to save me the hassle of having to attempt to be smart every so often (and failing miserably), I’d not necessarily be angry.

Costliness = $21.95

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hhv.de: a German record store?

by Chris_S on April 24, 2012

Post image for hhv.de: a German record store?

hhv.de is seemingly some sort of music shop based in Berlin that does a lot of tees (2970, to be exact). Berlin’s a long way to go to buy a t-shirt, but thanks to the joys of the internet (uhhh duhhhh) you can actually get a lot of pretty good designs for relatively little money.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a single label; rather, it seems a repository for a whole bunch of different labels. Some are big (Zoo York, Vans) and some are small. Similarly, there’s a lot of dross on the site – or rather, a lot of stuff that you can get elsewhere (I’m talking about band t-shirts here). But then there are also some absolutely stunning shirts that I’ve not seen many other places. Of course, everyone’s tastes are different, but there are seven that I whacked right into the basket in the vain hope that €144.48 + shipping would magically appear in my bank account (sadly, it didn’t). Of those, I’ve picked out a top four for you to take a gander at in case you have more money than me.

Above at the top is a shirt by Adam Hayes for 2K by Gingham, and I love the old-fashioned style text that’s on it. It’s the sort of thing you’d see on a 1950s poster for a speakeasy (I’m aware that’s historically impossible). For a smidgen under €14 it could be yours.

Another 2K by Gingham t-shirt, this is a mix of the geekiness of Threadless with the fashionable sort of tees you see people wearing in clubs. This one’s a little more at €16.95.

I wish I had €34.95 for this t-shirt – I really do. I love the typography on this, and the morose message that it gives off. It’s the sort of thing that people who live for Facebook will find amazingly cool from a distance, before realising what it says up close.

This is an elegant, springtime shirt from Sixpack France x Museum Studio, which is the costliest of the lot at €39.95 – but then again, it’s only been on the online store for six days. I like the colours and the gentle rose detail, and I think it’s the sort of thing which isn’t quite a brash statement t-shirt, but also isn’t your boring normal tee either.

Anyway, these is just the things I personally like. You really need to head on over yourself and take a look to find out.

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Literary tees from Truffle Shuffle

by Chris_S on April 21, 2012

'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte

I’m an English Literature graduate. It was a couple of years ago that I graduated, admittedly, but you’ll find that almost all bloggers on the internet are those who took an unhealthy obsession with books to the extent that they paid thousands of pounds to be taught it in tertiary education. And so this post is for all those who spent three, four or more years of their life reading 5 full novels a week and writing about them.

Truffle Shuffle have a brand of tees called ‘Out of Print’, which are based on some of the best novels in history. They’re beautiful, retro designs, slightly aged for that dog-eared effect that you get from the best-loved paperbacks in your collection (no word on whether the t-shirts come with the fusty old book smell though). I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t crave these shirts – and badly.

The one problem? Cost. At £27.99 a shirt, it’s something that a guy who took a non-vocational degree has to press his nose up to the glass for and save his pennies over the weeks. But save up I will, and end up splurging my cash on one. The question is which one to go for: ‘Animal Farm’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Catch-22′ or ‘A Clockwork Orange’? (PS. Truffle Shuffle, what’s up with not putting ‘Wuthering Heights’ on a guy’s tee? We like Bronte too!)

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Barber Shop Window: cool wrestling t-shirts?

by Chris_S on April 19, 2012

barber shop window t-shirts



I don’t want to alarm you or anything, but the three words “cool wrestling t-shirts” can in fact be used in the same sentence without the world exploding. Seriously, it’s not a contradiction in terms. Admittedly, professional wrestling hasn’t been cool since about 1997, but that almost doesn’t matter. I haven’t watched wrestling since I was 16 – these things called girls got in the way – but I can still appreciate the smart, snarky designs which are a mile away from the stuff the WWE (apparently the WWF had to change their name after the World Wildlife Fund sued them) produce.

Barber Shop Window has a simple motto: “to create shirts that wrestling fans enjoy, would want to own, and wouldn’t be embarassed to wear to the bar.” I’d argue they go further. These things can be worn by non- or lapsed wrestling fans like me.

They take an increasingly standard model of selling. Shirts are available for a limited time period and on a short print run, before being taken off-sale. Any leftovers (usually in odd sizes) can be picked up for about $25 (first-run shirts usually run $20). The shirt stock’s good, the printing lasts and is clear. I’m currently wearing the ‘Monsoon-Heenan 2012′ shirt pictured above; it combines my favourite commentary team from my formative years with my love of American politics (fuelled by The West Wing). I wish I had the Fuji Vice t-shirt, based on this…unique vignette from the 1980s. If you’re nerdy like me, the chances are you’ll find something here for you.

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Where to buy great t-shirts in London

by Andy on September 5, 2008

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When I was down in London recently I was doing some shopping and naturally I wanted to see what the capital had to offer in terms of t-shirts. I’d done a little research before my trip, and found a few cool places, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was after. I figured that if I’m searching for that kind of info on the internet, then other people probably are too, so I thought it might be a good idea to make a list of clothing stores in London.

Upper Playground


Address: 31 Kingly Street, London, W1 (Google Maps Link)
Upper Playground have six retail stores, five of them are on the West Coast of the U.S., and luckily for us, one of them is in London.

Demo


Address: 19 Fouberts Place, W1F 7PZ (Google Maps Link)
If you’re going to Upper Playground, you may as well pop around the corner and head down Fouberts Place, where you’ll find Demo. It’s a fairly small shop, but it’s a veritable aladdin’s cave of top notch streetwear. Demo also happens to be the only place in the UK where I’ve seen Imaginary Foundation on sale, so its well worth a vist. Oh, and they have XLarge too.

Super Superficial


Address: 17 Fouberts Place, W1F 7QD and Kingly Court
I don’t know why Super Superficial‘s only retail shops are within a couple of minutes walk of each other, but as long as they keep producing such great designs and offering Graniph-style discounts for buying more than one tee then I’ll be paying them a visit. If you want to pick between the two, I’d pick the Kingly Court shop, it feels a little larger, and I like the way they’ve fitted it out, but I assume they both offer the same range of designs.

howies


Address: 42 Carnaby Street, W1F 7DY (Google Maps Link)
Howies are a Welsh brand (who are astoundingly frank and open in their ‘about us‘ section) that produce really cool, simple tee designs. They started out life as a skate/bike brand, so you see a lot of those themes running through the shirts. Oh, and they’re eco-friendly too!

Chateau Roux


[Picture credit: Super Indellible] Address: 17 Newburgh Street, W1F 7RZ (Google Maps Link)
Chateau Roux are a pretty young brand (launched May 2006), but they’ve managed to get pretty big, pretty fast, and opening their first store earlier this year is strong testament to that. I wonder what kind of packaging they use when you buy a tee there, because when you get one in the post its a pretty special occasion.

Lazy Oaf


Address: Kingly Court (Google Maps Link)
Lazy Oaf had a face-lift recently, and boy does it look cool. The LO shop sells all kinds of things, clothing, jewelry, and stationary to name a few, all of which have sprung from the creative mind of Gemma Shiel.

Terratag


Address: 188 Brick Lane, E1 6SA (Google Maps Link)
We’re moving away from the Carnaby area now, and heading to the land of Terratag, the guys who are all about Gundam, Graff, and Girls. They have a flagship store on Brick Lane (though they are stocked in a number of other locations across London and the rest of the UK) that shows off both their clothing lines and printed art.

Your Eyes Lie

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[Can’t find a picture of the store, sorry guys] Address: Unit 6b, Camden Lock, NW1 8AL (Google Maps Link)
Your Eyes Lie is a brand run by a British and Thai designer that make some pretty darned awesome black and white tees, though they have started branching into the world of colours.

Concrete Hermit

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[more pictures here] Address: 5a Club Row, London, E1 6JX (Google Maps Link)
Just a stone’s throw from Brick Lane, Concrete Hermit have a brilliant gallery/store that is well worth a visit. I’ve done a full review of the store that can be found here, but the short version is that they sell art and tees done by the artists that they feature in the gallery.

Magma


[Picture credit: northerncontinent] Address: 8 Earlham Street, WC2H 9RY (Google Maps Link) & 117 Clerkenwell Road, EC1R 5BY (Google Maps Link)
Technically, Magma is actually a design bookstore, but considering they sell some 2k by Gingham tees I think I can shoehorn one of my favourite London stores into this list. I can almost guarantee that if I ever enter this store I’ll be walking out with a red plastic bag that has T magazine (or something else achingly cool) in it.

Hideout


Address: 7 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF (Google Maps Link)
Hideout deals with higher-end streetwear labels such as Supreme, Billionaire Boys Club, and Neighborhood, so expect to leave this store with a far lighter wallet than you went in with.

Slam City Skates


Address: 16 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DP (Google Maps Link)
As you’d imagine from the name, Slam City Skates is heaven for skaters, but a lot of their clothing is friendly to those of us that have the balance of a top-heavy pin stood on a piece of rope between the Grand Canyon in a high-wind (… I can’t skate).

I’m sure that I’m missing loads of great stores off, but since I don’t go to London all that much I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to go exploring, so if you know of a shop that should be on this list when I’m next down in the big smoke then leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list (after a thorough vetting process of me deciding whether its cool or not).

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