Wednesday, April 13, 2011

“Say It with a Shirt” - T-shirt review sites


For those that have something to say, but no forum to say it in, the invention of the slogan-centered, image-forward t-shirt is more than a fashion accessory - it’s a vehicle for having a voice. The t-shirt craze has caught on with a variety of demographic groups from hipsters to trendsetters to music lovers to sports fanatics. And while there are plenty of reasons t-shirts are so popular among all those groups, there are few more universally relevant than the fact that a unique, interesting t-shirt design is a great way to express oneself and make a simple (or complex) statement. If it looks good, smells clean, and feels comfortable, a t-shirt is one of the easiest and most versatile pieces of clothing ever created. So when it comes to figuring out why certain t-shirts are so in demand for everyone from toddlers to adults, it’s interesting to look beyond the basics.
We briefly interviewed three of the top T-shirt review blog site owners . They clearly see how t-shirts are a form of expression with creative designs and styles.



1) COLIN NEWCOMER - www.troundup.com


What made you start troundup.com?

When I was sixteen or so, I was heavily into the affiliate marketing scene. I was making a lot of worthless sites and placing tons of ads on Facebook and Google Adsense, when I decided to just make a site for fun. That site was troundup. Troundup was solely a hobby blog for my interest in graphic t-shirts. Strangely, the site I put the least effort into (Troundup) became my most successful site over the long-term.







How many shirts do you have? How many t-shirts have you purchased from different countries?
I have a ridiculous number of shirts. Last I checked I was sitting around 150 designs. I’ve since donated and sold a good portion, but I’d bet I still have over 100. Most of these aren’t with me, though. The house I live in in Philadelphia doesn’t have quite as spacious of a closet as my parents’ home. Of those 150+, very few were purchased from other countries. I’m fairly certain I could count the number on one hand—the exchange rate is just too brutal for whimsical purchases.





Which TV show or movie Actor do you believe wears the most creative shirts?
I gotta be honest…I don’t pay that much attention to t-shirts in pop culture. I’ve heard that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World had some pretty bangin’ t-shirts though, so I’m gonna say that.



Do you have a top 5 artist list of your favorite t-shirt designers?
These are very loosely in order, and it’s difficult to pick just five out of the huge pool of great designers:
1. Robi Dobi—the guy beyond Fullbleed.
2. Print Liberation—while not technically one person, the fact that they’re an advertising agency gone t-shirt company is incredibly cool (and shows through). Plus…they’re from Philadelphia.
3. Glenn Jones—the bazillion time Threadless winner who was so successful he set up his own shop in Glennz.
4. Craig Watkins, aka. Wotto—I just dig his style. Even more so when I’m in certain moods.
5. Julia Heglund, aka Sonmi—Again, her style rocks. These few stem from when I was really into Threadless, but they’ve stuck with me.





2) Andy Bowness - http://www.hideyourarms.com/


What made you start Hideyourarms.com?

When I was finishing up my degree at the University of Leicester (in History & Politics, which really prepared me for a life writing about t-shirts!) I was online looking at t-shirts because I was a pretty big dude then so I couldn't find anything I liked at the shops in town, and I found Preshrunk (the original tee blog) and thought to myself, "I could do that... and get free stuff out of it." So I did. In the beginning I was strictly writing about hoodies, but people kept sending me t-shirts and news about tees so I opened things up a bit to t-shirts as well, though I do try and still post hoodies when I see a nice one.

How many shirts do you have? How many t-shirts have you purchased from different countries?
I don't really know how many I have, but I think I've broken the 300 barrier by now. The last proper count was in the middle of 2009 and I had more than 200 then. It's actually pretty rare for me to buy a t-shirt since people send me them to test, review, or just to say thanks for me writing a post about their brand. It was pretty crazy when the first sample arrived, I couldn't quite believe people would just give me stuff (even though the reviews take a bit of work), and it's still pretty cool now more than five years after starting the site. I've probably only bought a handful of t-shirts in the past few years, usually because they supported charities and that kind of thing. They come from all over the world, mostly the US and Europe, but every so often Japan and Australia too. I don't think I've ever received a tee from Africa or the Middle East, I still need to tick them off the list .
Which TV show or movie Actor do you believe wears the most creative shirts?
I find the quality of shirts in TV shows to be quite disappointing in general, it's probably a licensing issue, but indie companies rarely get a chance to show themselves off to a mainstream audience. The IT Crowd (it's a British sitcom but I think it's shown on a network in the US too) is probably the best when it comes to t-shirts, they show some geeky tees and now that the show is popular and has a cult following brands send in their own t-shirts in the hopes of turning up on screen. I do a round up of the t-shirts in each episodes, and those posts have always been popular. Of course there is also Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. The shirts he wears are fairly mainstream, but they are quite creative. I've been told that the main guy in Raising Hope wears some cool tees too, but I haven't watched much of that show yet.



Do you have a top 5 artist list of your favorite t-shirt designers?
I actually don't, partially because I don't like to play favorites with all the people I know in the industry, and partially because I'm a bit too lazy to put something like that together! Well, maybe not too lazy, but I'm sure I wouldn't be able to stop at 5 names, I'd always think of someone else that just had to be on the list.





3) Adam Hendle - http://www.iamthetrend.com/
What made you start IAmTheTrend.com?

I have always loved t-shirts, music, art and finding cool products. About three years back I was thumbing through Alternative Press and was checking out their AP STYLE section and I thought to myself I need to create a website that discovers and writes about the latest clothing lines, bands, and cool indie products. The initial concept for the website was to be a "directory", basically a yellow pages for indie. After a year or so I wanted the site to have a little more life and content that I could keep updated and that's when the site started to evolve into more of a blog instead of a directory. I first started out interviewing brands and then I slowly started working in reviews and news or brands and then overtime it really just started to evolve into what you see today.



How many shirts do you have? How many t-shirts have you purchased from different countries?
Now that you mention it I really should take the time to count all of my tees! I know I have at least 300 possibly even more. Honestly I really do not purchase tees from overseas to often. Between the weak dollar and international shipping I can't even count how many times I have had tees in my cart and then abandoned it. It's really too bad because there are a TON of great brands overseas!






















Do you have a top 5 artist list of your favorite t-shirt designers?
That's a tough question but I guess top five would be the following: Keaton Henson, Godmachine, Derek Deal, Matthew Skiff, and Mike Gaboury. There are SO many incredible artists out there so it's really not fair to only pick 5! That was agonizing! T-shirts have gotten a major makeover in terms of style, design, and the ability to project personal panache, appealing to a range of people in a whole new way. So the next time you’re feeling frustrated, happy, hopeful, or anything else that deserves expression, pull on a powerful t-shirt and say it all without uttering a word.





Slogans and clever graphics often express feelings like -political outrage, intellectual elitism, wry wit, childlike innocence, and a sense of humor at life’s funny moments – better and more succinctly than any other medium. So the next time you’re feeling frustrated, happy, hopeful, or anything else that deserves expression, pull on a powerful t-shirt and say it all without uttering a word.