Say Hello To ShirtDeck

Good friend and fellow T-Shirt blogger, Andy from Hide Your Arms, recently revealed his latest T-Shirt project – ShirtDeck. His latest site, is quite similar to The Tee Directory in that it is dedicated to offering T-Shirt coupon codes. ShirtDeck not only provides a nice, at-a-glance view of the latest coupon codes, but it also allows you to search for specific coupon codes that you are hunting for. What’s even better, if you have a coupon code that you want to share, there’s an easy Share A Coupon button that you can click to submit your coupon. It’s so easy, it’s insane.

ShirtDeck is a project that was launched in 2011 by Andrew Bowness (owner of t-shirt & hoodie blog Hide Your Arms) as a means to collect and share coupon codes and deals from small (sometimes called ‘indie’) clothing companies. The intention of the site is to ensure that people can get cool clothes for the best price possible, and hopefully promote some cool indie brands at the same time.

Just a little back story, the original idea for ShirtDeck was for it to be a “marketplace where people could buy and sell second hand and rare t-shirts.” Keep you’re eye out for a similar type of website from Andy in the future. I should also note that along with ShirtDeck, savvy coupon hunters should also check out my Attack of the Coupon Codes section on this site!

The Ultimate List of T-Shirt Blogs

Andy from Hide Your Arms recently unleashed his newest project, T-Shirtblo.gs – a list of the best T-Shirt sites ranked by user votes. In the future, the rankings will be based on Google PageRank, Alexa ranking, and Technorati rank.

CotyGonzales.com is listed so be sure to stop by T-Shirtblo.gs and vote for this blog – for every 5 star rating you give this blog you will receive a free virtual hug and thank you! :)

Vote for me on t-shirtblo.gs

List of T-Shirt Blogs

Interview with Hide Your Arms + 1000th Post!

I was fortunate enough to sit and chat (in Internet speak, that means we conversed via multiple emails) with Andy Bowness of the popular hoodie and tee blog, Hide Your Arms! It’s a pretty long and comprehensive interview, but I think that I provide good insight into my life in and out of just this blog. I also provide some advice on how you can get more eyeballs looking at your blog. My suggestion: grab a cup of coffee or tea and get ready for a good read. You can check out the interview here at Hide Your Arms.

Interview on HYA

Can you believe it? This is the 1000th post on CotyGonzales.com! That’s a lot of posts. And it sure did come during an amazing week! In the past week, CotyGonzales.com has been featured on some of the most popular LOST fan sites, including the elusive DARKUFO. And yesterday, we were given lots of love for the 101 LOST T-Shirts for the Ultimate Lost Fanatic post by Entertainment Weekly, they called the post “Wowza”, and Carlton Cuse, one of the writers and producers of LOST who called the post “Cool.” We even made it to one of the top Hungarian Movie/TV blogs (think of it as the Hungarian Slashfilm – how about that, LOL). Needless to say, the LOST list has been spreading over Twitter (over 200+ RT’s) and Tumblr (over 700+ reblogs). Yep, this was a pretty big week. And by the way, the bacon list is still getting mucho love.

Entertainment Weekly

Carlton Cruse

Also, the Co-Tee TV Facebook Fan Page has just received its 250th fan! I’m stoked and can’t wait to meet even more of you through Facebook. Click the image below and let’s connect!

Co-Tee TV Facebook Fan Page

This might be the 1000th post, but, don’t worry, I plan to be around for 1000 more and beyond! I appreciate all of the love you guys have been giving this blog in the past year and half. It’s been amazingly fun and 1000% worth it.

10 Tips From 10 Great Indie Brands (Part II)

Can you believe it guys? Another 10 Indie Tee Spotlights have come and gone. How the time zooms by when you’re having fun, huh! So just like last time, I’ve got a wrap up post for your consumption containing ten, count em’ TEN  great tips from the last 10 featured Indie Tee Spotlight brands. Enjoy with tea and a comfy tee!

1. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously. “When we first began brainstorming ideas and concepts for shirts we thought we were going to revolutionize the t-shirt world. However, as we began studying our competition and becoming familiar with the t-shirt blogging scene we realized that a lot of people not only had the same ideas, but were sometimes better executed. It made me realize that we can’t take ourselves too seriously.” -Steve Orlando of Robit Studios

2. Hating Your Day Job Can Spark Inspiration. “We both really wanted to start our own tshirt company, with designs we couldnt find in stores. It also helps we both hate our day jobs. Ill never forget checking out Emptees for the first time and saying wow, this stuff is amazing I really want to wear this. ” -Brothers Jason and Jeff of Zombie Liquorice

3. Trial and Error Works. “There is so much knowledge available on the internet for the taking. The key is being able to sift through it. And then once you think you’ve sifted through all you can handle you take the plunge and start to put your money on the line and test things out. So my whole shop, process, everything came from being willing to learn and never be too set in my ways, which is something I think a lot of people get hung up on. You have to be fluid.” -Jon Wye of Jon Wye

4. Your Brand Should Mean The World To You. “It’s such an amazing and beautiful thing to be at the helm of a boundless and opportunistic endeavor. The identity, personality and collective attributes of my brand are nothing short of what time, frugality, devotion and hard work can produce. Prestigious means the world to me.” -William Matte, Jr. of Prestigious Clothing

5. Create Something That You Would Wear and Won’t Lose It’s Appeal. “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.” -Travis Greenwood of Found Item Clothing

[Read more...]

Indie Tee Spotlight #21: Andy Bowness of Hide Your Arms

This weeks Indie Tee Spotlight, the 21st edition by the way, ushers in a whole new perspective. Up to this point, I’ve been interviewing owners of different indie clothing brands. In this Indie Tee Spotlight, I interview someone that has become an integral part of the indie clothing scene with his honest reviews. His name is Andy Bowness and he is the founder of the popular T-Shirt and hoodie blog, Hide Your Arms. 

Andy started Hide Your Arms way back in January of 2006, and, as the name implies, started off by focusing on hoodies and jackets but has since grown to cover tees as well. Since then Andy has hustled hard and is considered to be one of the top tier T-Shirt/clothing bloggers around. I’ve got to admit that I was pretty excited to chat with Andy since he has been an inspiration to me as a tee blogger. 

Andy Bowness of Hide Your Arms

Coty: You have one the more (some would argue most) succesful t-shirt blogs around. When and why did you decide to start a fashion blog? When did Hide Your Arms first really start picking up momentum in the blogosphere?

Andy: I know OMGTees gave me a #1 ranking a while back, but I still think that Karl (tcritic) has the top blog in terms of readers, and a lot of people in the tee-osphere (we need to think of a better name for that, by the way) are writing better stuff than me at the moment, but yeah, I think HYA is pretty successful. I decided to start writing HYA when I was in my last semester at university (January 2006), which is probably exactly the wrong time to start any kind of project, I didn’t like the clothes I was finding in the city I was in at the time and was scouring the internet for stuff I liked, I noticed what Jason was doing at Preshrunk (writing about clothes and being sent free clothes), and thought “hey, I could do that!”

At first things were pretty slow, I had to really hustle to get my name out there, every time I wrote about a hoodie or t-shirt I e-mailed the designer to let them know, sometimes they’d link to the review on their blog or e-mail back to say thanks, and I think that helped early on. I made sure I got involved with the other tee bloggers that were around at the time too, there was less than a dozen of us back then, so it was easier to keep track of who was doing what and what was popular. Things really started to pick up last year, I had a solid base of traffic from the ‘really long list’ articles that I’d put out every so often that helped me to reach a lot of people, and readership tripled last year to around 4000 readers, although it’s hard to verify those numbers. I think that kicking it up to 8 articles a day towards the end of 2008 helped me too, but it was a killer work schedule (I’d do a near full-time manual labour job, come home, then work till midnight on HYA), so I’ve cut back a bit.

Hide Your Arms Banana

Coty: You’ve built a pretty strong and recognizable brand with the Hide Your Arms blog. Have you ever considered selling Hide Your Arms branded tees or hoodies?

Andy: I’ve been intending to sell HYA hoodies & tees pretty much since I started the blog, but I’ve never got around to going through with it, hell, I don’t even have a proper logo yet!

I think there’s a big risk with putting out my brand of goods, as soon as I have something to sell it means that I’m competing with all the people I write about, and something about that doesn’t seem quite right to me. I wouldn’t do any of the designing myself, there’s a reason why I write about t-shirts rather than design them, but I would love to release some designs that have been created for HYA on a specific theme, I think it could be really cool if I got it right.

Andy Bowness of Hide Your Arms

Coty: Currently, who are some of your favorite indie designers and why?

Andy: Oooh, this is a tough one, for a couple of reasons; first, I don’t really like to play favourites, and secondly, I’m pretty terrible at remembering names. At the moment I like Olly Moss, though more for the stuff he puts on his Flickr account than the tees he produces (not that they suck, they’re good too), I think that Linty Fresh/Eric Terry make some of the most wearable designs out there, it’s always good to see Sven Palmowski/a.mar.illo win in a design competition, Tony Aguero/aliadotony has designed loads of tee that are in my wardrobe, I love his style. I don’t really spend much time looking at art if it isn’t on a t-shirt, but I make a point of keeping tabs on Kozyndan, they’re a couple that make me wish I had more walls so that I could put their posters on them.

Coty: Other than Hide Your Arms, what do you do for your day job? Are you a designer by trade?

Andy: Well, it’s not really a job, but at the moment I’m an intern at the top advertising agency in Philadelphia. Back in England I fulfill a variety of roles at an interior design and project management business. Both sound more glamorous than they really are, I really wish I had some design skills, but I just haven’t got the chops to compete with most of the people I feature on Hide Your Arms, so I’m not going to embarass myself by doing so. I have learned a couple of things at my internship though, so hopefully in the future I’ll at least be able to make the infographics that go with featured posts (like the long lists I do every so often) look a bit better.

Coty: You recently moved from the UK to the states. How did the move go and how do you like Philly? What’s your favorite part of living in Philadelphia?

Andy: The move was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I got myself a great apartment in less than a week, and when you have to fit your entire life into a suitcase and backpack you don’t really have to do a lot to ‘move in’ to your new place. Philly is great, it seems to get a bit of a bad rep, but pretty much everyone I’ve met has been great, which has made moving to a city I’ve never been to before and don’t know anyone in a whole better.

Where I live in England is pretty rural, I have to drive if I want to go anywhere, so for me to be able to walk anywhere in the city I want to go is great (it’s a very walkable city), there’s loads of excellent restaurants here (and I’m not just talking about cheesesteaks), and there are always events going on to keep me busy when the internship and Hide Your Arms don’t.

Andy Bowness of Hide Your Arms

Coty: As a blogger, what tips do you have for creating and maintaining a successful blog?

Andy: Write about something you’re passionate about, otherwise you’ll get bored quickly. Keep posting regularly, try to post every day if you can. I usually write lots of posts ahead of time whenever I get the chance, and then set them to be robo-posted at some date in the future, that way there’s always something new going on my site, and it gives people a reason to keep coming back. It’s important to get your name out there and get involved with the rest of the blogging community in your niche; leave comments on other blogs, follow ‘teeple’ on Twitter, not only is it going to help you network and get mentioned on other sites, us tee bloggers are generally quite a nice bunch of people.

Coty: What other blogs (not just t-shirts) out there are your favorite to read?

Andy: I think I’d probably die if Notcot.org didn’t exist (note: slight exaggeration), it’s amazing. Phoodie.info, Phillyist and Philebrity have been a great help for me getting used to being in Philadelphia, so they’re some of the first blogs I check when I open up Google Reader after work. I read a lot of the usual suspects like Kottke, Boing Boing, Engadget, TechCrunch, Mashable, Lifehacker, and then there’s loads of tee blogs of course, but I’ve actually been trying to cut down on the amount of blogs I read recently because it was becoming information overload, even so, I’m still subscribed to about 150 feeds.

Coty: Finally, you’ve been blogging about tees and hoodies for a while now. How many freebie tees and hoodies do you think you’ve collected through the years? Has there been any one package that has really impressed you?

Andy: I don’t know the true figure because I don’t keep them all in the same place, but I’m pretty sure I’ve received about 180, of which 160 are my size, and then the rest have been given to friends and family as presents. When people find out that I get free t-shirts the next question they ask me is usually something to do with what I do with the ones that don’t fit me (people love a freebie). I don’t pay for them, but to call most of the tees I get ‘freebies’ is a little bit of a misconception. I take pictures of them, and then spend around thirty minutes to an hour writing a post, so there is quite a lot of effort that goes into each review, and clearly you put a lot of effort into your reviews as well Coty, so hopefully you see where I’m coming from. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining though, I still love it when I get a package through the mail and don’t know what’s going to be inside, it’s like Christmas all year round in the HYA house!

Hide Your Arms Shirts

I’ve got to give a big shout out to Andy for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s greatly appreciated. Keep up the great work you’re doing at Hide Your Arms!

5 Awesome T-Shirt Flickr Groups

I’ve been a Flickr user for a while now, but in no means would I consider myself a Flickr poweruser. However, I’ve been exploring Flickr a bit more as of late and found that they’ve got lots of awesome T-Shirt related groups that you can join. Thanks to bigguybigcity better known as tee blogger hideyourarms, designer Olly Moss and the T-critic blogger Karl Long, I found these groups while scouring their profiles!

Oh and before I forget – you can add me on Flickr too!

Here are 5 of my favorites (so far): 

1. T-Shirts. 10,709 Tees. This group is lied by Little Dragon and seems to be the group with the most tees added amongst this lot. Another plus with this group is its active discussion area – lots of talk going on there compared to the other groups. Here’s the group description:

Tees – hell… shirts, sweaters, hoodies – nowadays have crazy, witty and overall funny sayings, sayings and icons, pictures and colours. Post pictures of people in funny and/or odd t-shirts here.

T-Shirts Flickr Group

2. Funny T-Shirts. 500 Tees. This is the site specifically for funny tees, in fact, according to admin TheNakedPhotographer “Your shit better be funny or worth being in here or I will delete it, add shit shirts here twice and I will ban you!” Whenever you see a funny tee, snap a pic of it and upload it to the Funny T-Shirts group.

Funny T-Shirts

3. T-Shirt Revolution. 8,964 Tees. This is the group that’s all about printing and making your own tee designs. If you made the tee, post it here! They also have active discussions on transferring designs to blank tees and on blank tee types in general. If you’re a do-it-yourself-er than be sure to add this group and start contributing! The group admin is Stephane Vendran. 

T-Shirt Revolution

4. Fresh Tees. 3,787 Tees. This is the official addic[tee]d Flickr group run by Mr. Fresh. addic[tee]d is a tee blog that is based in Athens, Greece. The addic[tee]d tee blog has been around since 2005. This group does not allow “plain text” tees so be careful not to add those.

Fresh Tees

5. I Love T-Shirts. 2,136 Tees. This is a Brazilian group run by Aline Szucs. Although not in English, they do have a ton of fun tees in this group. Definitely worth checking out. And if you understand Portuguese then here’s the group description:

Camisetas são ítens básicos e indispensáveis no guarda-roupa que vão conosco a qualquer lugar! Trocas, dicas, dúvidas, são os objetivos deste grupo! Trocas: peço a todos que organizarem ou participarem, manter sempre o respeito uns para com os outros, pois este tipo de interação tem como objetivo descontarir e não “estressar”, ok? Fotos: somente de camisetas, blusinhas e afins!!! Estão proibidos: xingamentos, ofensas, material inadequado e tudo que possa prejudicar o grupo. Abs!

I Love T-Shirts