Absolutely adore this shirt. It helps that The Catcher In The Rye is one of my all time favorite books. “Catcher In The Rye, as we all know, is one of the best books in the world! Printed on this awesome tee is Holden’s catch-all term, “phony,” though we all know he’s the real phony all along. oooh the sweet sweet irony!”
It’s been a while, I know. I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’m still receiving T-Shirt in the mail. Thank you. New episodes of Co-Tee TV? Not sure when that will happen. Life’s just too hectic. But, I can still take photos and talk about the T-Shirts that I’ve received. So I will do just that. What better brand to start off talking about then Dust Jacket Clothing. When I saw their tees, I knew that I had to get a post up about this up-and-coming brand. Dust Jacket Clothing specializes in book themed T-Shirts, yes, I know, not quite that original of an idea, however, they’re really good at it.
Dust Jacket Clothing sent me two of the three T-Shirts in their product line, Dr. TK Eckleburg and Medicore Gatsby. The Dr. TK Eckleburg T-Shirt is the one that really caught my eye. Great shirt, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby. Funny story, my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, gave me this book to read in 1999. I still haven’t finished it. It’s been a running joke between us for the longest time. It’s one of her favorites, and, I just never found the time to finish it. I heard the movie is being released soon…
As for the T-Shirt, Dust Jacket Clothing uses Next Level Apparel tees. Similar in comfort to American Apparel tees, but, slightly more form fitting. The dark ash Eckleburg tee is quite soft, whereas the yellow Mediocre Gatsby tee feels a bit on the light and thin side. I can recommend them both. Perfect for the classic book enthusiast, or the F. Scott Fitzgerald fanboy. They do exist.
So far, loving the brand. Three shirts provides for slim pickings, so I’m hoping that they add to their product line up soon. My favorite books of all time? The Catcher in the Rye. Second favorite? Animal Farm. Hint…hint.
I recently discovered XCVB, a UK based indie brand. I had a look at their offerings and have to admit that I was instantly drawn to Foreign Body. I think it was the combination of odd imagery and tiny text. Speaking of the text, it seems as if come straight out of a noir novel from the 1950′s:
“So as a bloom against her throat his jealousy blossomed. Betrayal cursing through his veins like a pack of red dogs, the hairs bristled along his spine. His faults becoming perfection, his lies in harmony would soon ring true. This false and fevered glare. In vain defense she tried making eyes at him but he had made his own for her as blind as love itself.”
Despite the proliferation of the Digital Age, books never get old. There’s something about holding a hefty novel and flipping through physical pages that feels right. So it’s no surprise that translating books to T-Shirts has been a popular trend in 2010. Kafkacotton was born out of a renewed interest in books after the founder was reintroduced to Heller’s Catch-22. Likewise, Out Of Print Clothing made it’s way across the Internet after it modeled its T-Shirts after the covers of some of the most popular books.
Tee Libraree brings us even closer to the book experience. The images and phrases on the Tee Libraree T-Shirts comes from some of the most beloved books of our time. They feature both fiction and non-fiction themed T-Shirts. What’s even more awesome is the packaging for the Tee Libraree T-Shirts. The shirts come packaged in what looks like a classic, leather covered book. And even more interesting, Tee Libraree even tells you what method was used to create the graphic on the T-Shirt, either: camera, palette, stamp, mouse, or brush. The method used for each T-Shirt is signified by a tiny icon that is printed on the left sleeve.
Being a fan of T-Shirt and out-of-the box packaging, I’d love to get my hands on tee from the Tee Libraree. Maybe we’ll see this on Co-Tee TV one of these days? Maybe. I hope!
The do have a list of stores from around the globe that carry Tee Library, however, I couldn’t find any pricing or online purchase information on the Tee Libraree website. If you live in the New York area then check out Idiel Showroom, they carry official Tee Library products.
It’s been a while since the last Indie Tee Spotlight, hasn’t it! If my memory serves me correctly, it’s been almost 9 months since our last Spotlight interview with Hugo Murray of i/denti/tee. In the latest Spotlight I feature the very intriguing Brian Crabtree of Kafkacotton, a new brand that Brian dreamed up after rereading (and re-loving) Joseph Hellerâ€™s classic, Catch-22. I had the great opportunity to do a little catching-up with Brian, and he graciously allowed me to ask him a few question about his startup brand and his unique take on marketing it across America.
Coty: I’m guessing that Franz Kafka had something to do with you starting your unique line of T-Shirts. What inspired you to start Kafkacotton?
Brian: I definitely took our name from the author Franz Kafka. He writes these nightmarish stories which remind me of stark blacks and whites, long shadows, ominous alleyways -- cool connotations for a t-shirt label.
I started Kafkacotton because I think reading is fundamentally flawed. We used to gather around somebody with a good story and listen socially as a group. With books, we read our stories alone so I don’t know what books you like and you don’t know what books I like. These are connections waiting to happen that just don’t. Kafkacotton makes those connections in a hip, fashionable way. Instead of putting that book back on the shelf, why not slap it on your chest and talk about it?
I also want to help give everyone the chance to read. We do that by donating 5% of our profits towards fight illiteracy. You really have to hustle to promote a t-shirt company and knowing it’s all for a good cause keeps me motivated.
Coty: You started a very unique campaign that someone named “Gregor”, a life-size cockroach costume and the 48 contiguous states. Tell us about that.
Brian: Gregor the roach! Yes, he’s 6-feet tall, illiterate, German, and on a 48-states-in-48-weeks road trip. He’s visiting one college campus a week to raise literacy awareness, give away tees, and shoot hilarious videos which we post to our blog. We started in Florida in early February and, five states later, we’re in South Carolina heading northwestish. We’re just getting started but Gregor has already been featured on CNN Radio, ABC News, and CBS News.
Why the cockroach? “Gregor” is the main character in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis where a guy wakes up one morning and finds he’s inexplicably been turned into a giant insect. I had read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and realized the most important thing was to not be boring. That’s key. You need to get people’s attention first so you can share your message second. Even if your message is positive and charitable, you need to get your foot in door or no one will ever hear it.
Coty: What’s the typical response you get when people first spot Gregor in the cockroach costume? What has been the most interesting encounter that you’ve experienced during your cockroach tour?
Brian:Â There are three basic responses: 10% are ecstatic and run up to give him a hug, the middle 80% smile and laugh, and the other 10% steer clear, watch him out of the corner of their eyes, and pray to god he doesn’t try to talk to them. The last ones are the most fun.
The most interesting experience would definitely have to be while trying to hitchhike in small-town Alabama for a video related to our new “On the Road” t-shirt. All went well until the police showed up …
Coty: You use Etsy for your storefront. What made you decide to go that route? Why not have a custom store integrate with Kafkacotton.com?
Brian:Â Good question. For a t-shirt company just starting out, Etsy is a great platform. Here are the major pros and cons to think about:
Filled with people looking for new, interesting designs.
The $0.20 fee per item is reasonable.
Very easy to set up.
Less control over your image.
Customers need to register with Etsy to make a purchase (that’s a big one).
Some customers will forget to list their size in the “Message to Seller” box while checking out. This wastes everyone’s time.
Need to constantly relist items to remain at the top of Etsy’s search results.
Your Google juice gets spread out among several relisted items instead of concentrated on one, permanent item listing.
Can’t set up Adwords goals (which basically means you can’t use Adwords).
Can’t rotate and test sales copy.
I’m glad we started with Etsy but, in my opinion, we have outgrown the site and we will actually be moving to our own cart system and revamping Kafkacotton.com in the next month. I’m really excited about the possibilities! [Coty: This is good to hear, growth is good!]
Just to be clear, even if you’re on Etsy, I definitely reccomend setting up a slick, professional website as well. A blog is critical and you need your own domain for that. Also, certain sites and people will not pay attention to an email sent from “@gmail.com”.
Coty: Out of Print Clothing has a line that, conceptually, is quite similar to Kafkacotton. Both brands bring classic books to the T-Shirt. How would you say Kafkacotton differs from what Out of Print Clothing is doing?
Brian:Â There’s even a third literary-tee company called, Novel-T! We all started in the last six months which I think is pretty hilarious but also shows there’s a real need here.
Kafkacotton is the only label creating new, original graphic designs inspired by the classics. That’s where I want to be. My passion is being able to take a book that may be 150 years old like Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and create a design that resonates with people in a new way. In that particular book’s case, I worked with Reilly Stroope who did an absolutely phenomenal job.
I’m also all about community. When I want to start on a new book, the community votes and picks it. Before I print the shirt, I post two or three completely different designs and the community votes on their favorite. For instance, I’m working on two 1984 designs right now that will go on the chopping block next week. Sometimes my favorite design gets cut but community is all about trust and you can’t fake that.
I haven’t talked about this too much yet but I’ll also be accepting design submissions in the future. Stay tuned for that!
Coty: And finally, what kind of books do you enjoy reading and what is your de facto favorite book of all time?
Brian:Â I agree with Thoreau that we should, “read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” I mostly stick to classic literary fiction and love a good, memorable character. My absolute favorite book is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22:
“Justice?” The Colonel was astounded. “What is justice?”
“Justice, sir â€“”
“That’s not what justice is,” the colonel jeered, and began pounding the table again with his big fat hand. “That’s what Karl Marx is. I’ll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning.”
Thanks to Brian Crabtree, or should I say Gregor, for taking the time out from his busy road trip across America to chat! Now, you guys go and buy some tees from Kafkacotton!