Indie Tee Spotlight #16: Found Item Clothing

Welcome to this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight! This week I highlight Found Item Clothing, a brand that specializes in taking fictional tees from your favorite movies and turning them into actual t-shirts that you can wear too. If this all sounds too familiar then that means you read this blog often and know that I featured Found Item Clothing in this weeks tee review video!

I had the opportunity to talk to Travis Greenwood, marketing manager over at Found Item Clothing, about the brand and the nuances that go into creating tees from existing, albeit fictional, shirts. He also hints at some new things happening at Found Item Clothing in 2009!

Travis Greenwod

Coty: You started Found Item Clothing because during a viewing of Real Genius – you decided you wanted an I Love Toxic Waste tee. To your disappointment, you could not find an online seller so you decided to print your own. How did you go from wanting a one off tee to deciding to start your own niche brand?

Travis: 1. It was an organic process that evolved over time. The initial goal was simply to keep a few tees for ourselves, friends and family and recoup our investment from the trial batch of 25. In time, we came to understand that other movie fans wanted these shirts as well. It was pretty quiet for the first six months, but we sold enough shirts to make our money back and fund the next round of designs. And then people started requesting shirts from other movies, and we started watching films with the expressed goal of finding new shirts to reproduce. The rest, as they say, is history…

Coty: Many of your tees focus on films from the 80’s and early 90’s. What about this time period has intrigued you and will you be doing tees based on more recent films? If so, which films do you have in mind?

Travis: That’s a good question. There’s no real formula or specific criteria here, but generally each shirt should be something that (a) we think is inventive, humorous or unique (and hence, won’t lose its appeal over time) and (b) something that we ourselves would wear out in public.

I will say that these are the films that we grew up on, bonded over and have watched throughout our lives, especially fine flicks like Spinal Tap, Caddyshack, Real Genius and The Big Lebowski. Our shirts reflect, in some small way, the strong connection people have with moving pictures, the lengths they will go to get a little slice of that movie magic for themselves. If you examine our roster of shirts closely, you’ll see that most of them come from funny comedies and/or cult films that may have failed at the box office (or enjoyed modest success), but have since acquired devoted, even nerdish, followings.

I should add that 2009 will mark a FIC first: new, original designs are in the works. They should be available for sale sometime in the next few months.

Spinal Tap

Coty: Explain a bit about how you go about reproducing these tees that are sometimes on the screen for just a few seconds. What has been the most difficult tee to replicate?

Travis: I can’t really speak to this process because it’s not my area of expertise, but in general, when we’ve decided to green-light a design, we do numerous and detailed screen captures for the movie, and also try to find any other source material for the design that might be out there, and from there we let our talented designers have at it with illustrating software. There’s also usually a lot of back and forth about the particulars of the design, and what is truest to the original. We strive to reproduce the smallest aspects – font, color, placement, shirt style – as best we can and this can be a time-consuming process. It sounds easy, but I assure you, it’s not always so. Off the top of my head, some of the more difficult tees to replicate have included Summer Games, Karou Betto and the Green Skeleton, because the images on front (and occasionally, back) are somewhat complicated and finely-detailed.

Axel Foley

Coty: The Caduceus tee from Ferris Bueler’s Day Off is my favorite tee from your collection. I would predict that I Love Toxic Waste is your favorite tee. Which tee thus far has been your best seller?

Travis: Judging anecdotally by the orders I process, I’d say the most popular shirts include Green Skeleton, Fu Manchu, Guns Don’t Kill People, Caddyshack CC and pretty much all of the shirts from Real Genius. Personally, my favorite shirts from the FIC collection are Dicknose, Cutters and the Death Before Disco sweatshirt. I’m a sucker for slogan tees that grab people’s attention.

Coty: I bet you get many requests from your customers to print tees from particular movies. What are some of the tees that people have requested? Have you ever had a request that you later did print?

Travis: Sure, we get a fair amount of suggestions and always welcome more. A lot of the times the requests are pretty obscure, but there have been few designs that were made as a result of customer requests. The Karoru Betto and Gun’s Don’t Kill People shirts were both customer requests. If we do make shirts from a request, we’ll send that person a couple shirts of their choice, so if anyone’s got any shirts, they’d like to see made, please send along those requests!

I Heart Toxic Waste

Thanks again to Travis of Found Item Clothing for chatting with me! In case you missed it, watch a video tee review that I did of Found Item Clothing’s Caduceus tee from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.