Indie Tee Spotlight #26: i/denti/tee

i/denti/tee is a brand based out of New York that I stumbled upon while working on the Tee-Junction Teedirectory and I was instantly intrigued by their very unique product. If you enjoy T-Shirts and are a music lover (like myself) then you owe it to yourself to check out i/denti/tee. They pay special attention to the details, from packaging (each shirt comes in a vintage vinyl sleeve) to the tags (each i/denti/tee t-shirt has a “copyright” patch sewn onto the back, to showcase its authenticity). And just in case you’re wondering, every lyric they print is licensed for use. 

The i/denti/tee brand was founded by Carl Johnson, Michael Guido, Dave Quirke, and Evan Vogel out of their passion for music. I had the awesome opportunity to chat with i/denti/tee brand director Hugo Murray who was intimately involved in the development and launch of the brand. 

Hugo Murray

Coty: I’ve covered a lot of niche T-Shirt brands, but, I have to admit that i/denti/tee is one of the most well executed. How did the idea for i/denti/tee come about?

Hugo: The idea came from our love for music that has turned innocent comments into full-on debates around all things music. Dave Quirke, one of the founding partners, was debating music with a friend of his over a few pints of Guinness in a Dublin bar. Who is the greatest music artist of all time? Stones or the Beatles? What is the greatest album of all time? Zeppelin IV or OK Computer? What is the greatest song of all time? 99 Problems or Hotel California? After another 4 or 5 pints, they debated “the best lyrics of all time”. Months later in New York, Dave was reminded of this debate as he overheard two young guys in a bar debating who is the best urban artist of all time… Biggie or Tupac? Although Dave doesn’t even listen to Hip-Hop, he realized that all music lovers debate music. So many music tees feature band logo’s or artist photos – but it’s the lyrics that are at the heart of music.

Coldplay

Coty: While many indie tee brands have adopted American Apparel as the shirt blank of choice, i/denti/tee uses EDUN LIVE blanks. What was the deciding factor when choosing the EDUN LIVE blanks over other brands?

Hugo: We admire the work that Edun Live do. Each one is ‘grow-to-sew’ African – from the cotton they source, through the spinning and knitting stages, all the way to the final logo print on the inside of every music tee – the benefit of each goes back to the people working on the product in sub-Saharan Africa. So when Dave Quirke came up with the idea for i/denti/tee – he immediately asked his good friend Bono and wife, Ali Hewson, if they wanted to be involved and they jumped at the chance to get on board as a strategic partner and supplier.

Identitee

Coty: Explain a little why all of the lyrics seen on the i/denti/tee shirts begin with the letter “I”. Will future i/denti/tee shirts continue this with this trend?

Hugo: The reason why all our lyrics begin with the letter ‘i’ is that these are the most expressive kind – so it makes a statement about the wearer… “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”, “I wanna dance with somebody”, “I love rock n roll” etc. Self-expression is at the heart of our brand, so we will always print lyrics that begin with ‘i’.

Identitee

Identitee

Above: Franke Rodriguez (i/denti/tee brand director) being honored at the PIFF Awards last Thursday. i/denti/tee was honored with the “Pay it Fashion Forward” award from Fashion Delivers for being a cause-driven t-shirt company.

Coty: i/denti/tee shirts are all packaged in a vintage vinyl style sleeve. With the ever growing popularity and proliferation of digital music, do you still purchase and listen to vinyl records?

Hugo: We certainly blow a lot of money buying music on iTunes, but a few of our team still buy vinyl too. Whether people still buy vinyl or not these days – the sight of a 12″ record sleeve brings up feelings of nostalgia in any music lover – that’s why we package our tees in them.

Identitee

Coty: And finally, I’ve got to ask you, what are your 5 favorite songs of all time? How about your de facto favorite album?

Hugo: My personal top 5 songs?!?! Wow, I could spend hours on that one… (1) “15 Step” by Radiohead (2) “Over the hills and far away” by Led Zepplin (3) “Holy roller Novocaine” by The Kings of Leon (4) “Lady don’t tek no” by Latyrx (5) “Close to me” by The Cure. Favorite de facto album: Vampire Weekend (self titled) – life is always better listening to those guys – it should be prescribed listening for people with depression.

Coty: Just in case you guys are wondering about my favorite album of all time, I’d have to say it’s The Beach Boys’ 1967 release, Pet Sounds. I can listen to that album endlessly on any given day. 

Identitee

i/denti/tee will be giving away 500 downloads from the iTunes Music Store  and all you need to do to enter the drawing is either follow them on Twitter, be their fan on Facebook or register on the i/denti/tee website. They will be announcing the winner of the 500 iTunes downloads on July 3 so be sure to get in on that. They will be having more giveaways in July, including: concert tickets, tees autographed by the artist, etc. so be sure to be on the lookout for that! Finally, thanks to Hugo for taking the time to chat with me! Now everyone: go listen to some awesome music!

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