I am no grammar nazi, but come on Old Navy. If you’ve been commissioned to design T-Shirts for institutes of higher learning then you better be 100% correct with your grammar. Apparently, Old Navy was not. According to this Yahoo article by Piper Weiss, Old Navy made a pretty big flub when they decided to spell “Lets” in the phrase “Lets Go” without the appropriate apostrophe. If you’re scratching your head then you should know that the correct grammar would be “Let’s Go.”
“The mistake is particularly glaring considering the concept of the tee: it’s a partnership between Old Navy and 70 esteemed institutes of higher learning. Duke, Syracuse, University of Texas and Notre Dame, to name a few, all signed on to be represented on the Old Navy tee. Now they might be regretting that decision. According to Fashion ETC, Syracuse University officials are leading an investigation into who approved the copy. Maybe it’s the same person who signed off on this Wet Seal t-shirt.”
Let’s make sure, that this is the last Old Navy T-Shirt we feature here. Go UH Warriors!
If you’re a college student or have graduated from college then you know that local college bars are an integral part of the university experience. For me, that place was Magoo’s. Located on the ubiquitous University Avenue, Magoo’s was the only watering hole that mattered for University of Hawaii students. It was old, dingy and smelled of drunken good times. Oh, Magoo’s also had a load of beer on tap and the popular $5 pitcher was a popular drink for cash starving students. I always had the same thing, a pitcher ofÂ Pyramid Hefeweizen – the smoothness of wheat bear!
In any case, Complex Magazine put together a list of some of the best college bars in the nation. Here are the top 5 college bars in America:
“Classic video games and a special that makes just about everything on Wednesdays cost two dollars? If we didn’t know any better, we’d accuse Kilroy’s of targeting 12-year-olds on allowance day. Which would be highly illegal, but kind of gangster all the same.”
“Their “Dog Day” afternoon special, $1 hot dogs and $2 draughts, is perfect for two things: a) unwinding after a hard morning of classes, and b) taking some years off your life. Which is OK; the late years are all forgetty and wrinkly anyway.”
3. Beacon Hill Pub (BC/BU/Harvard/MIT)
“Pop a shot (basketball) and have a shot (probably Jameson) at this dingy dive on the backside of Beacon Hill. It’s not really claimed by any of the city’s many schools because no one really wants it. Nevertheless, an institution.”
“Duffyâ€™s has a fire pit, live music (Nirvana played there once), fishbowl-sized cocktails and itâ€™s…in Nebraska? Wait, weâ€™d better double check this… yep. It rules.”
And all of that leads us to this T-Shirt. It’s called Liquid Courage and it was designed by college student David Smith for Rethink Clothing. Rest assured that beer will help to solve any ailment that involves a lack of confidence. Order up a pint at your institutions watering hole and build up some liquid courage! Although this T-Shirt will not boost your liquid courage levels per se, it will make for a great conversation piece while you are sucking down those pints.
Liquid Courage is available now from Rethink Clothing in Creme and Heather colorways for $16.99 (but you can score 20% off your entire order if you use the coupon code COTY at checkout).
I was checking out the latest offering from UK based Last Exit To Nowhere and stumbled upon an excellent Ghostbusters themed T-Shirt. Last Exit To Nowhere did not go the traditional “cartoony” route, like this Threadless T-Shirt, instead, they went sophisticated.Â Venkman Stantz Spengler Paranormal Studies features not only great typography but also has green glow in the dark ink, something that the die hard fans of Ghostbusters can appreciate.
Inspired by the Columbia University Paranormal Studies team in the first part of the film Ghost Busters. (The reason Ernie Hudson’s character Winston Zeddemore isn’t featured in this particular design is because he joined the team after they had left University when Ghost Busters was already established).
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!
In this episode of Co-Tee TV I wear My Better Half by Katrina Vaughan and available at Threadless and review Kent State from Homage Clothing, a brand based out of Columbus, Ohio that focuses on turning back the clock with shout outs to eclectic moments and personalities in sports, music, politics and popular culture. Homage tees “tell stories of triumph, individualism and hustle, preserving the old school and creating new legacies.”
You can also watch this episode on Vimeo, Viddler, YouTube, blip.tv and download and sync all episodes to your iPod or iPhone by subscribing for free to Co-Tee TV in the iTunes Store.
Kent State by Homage Clothing.Pros: The shirt is super soft as is the print. Comes boxed in wonderful cardboard packaging and shirts are wrapped in a plastic bag. The shirt features a custom hangtag and has a Homage Clothing branded neck tag. A pack of vintage American Gladiators trading cards came packaged with the shirt.Â Cons: This shirt is made for a very specific and narrow niche – Kent State fans! If you love Kent State Â you’ll dig this vintage tee. If not, well, you really wont care much about it. Pricey.Â Price: $32.
My Better Half by Katrina VaughanÂ and available at Threadless.Pros: Simple yet effective! People will look at this one and either laugh or smile or disagree.Â Cons: I kind of wish the dotted line extended the length of the shirt. Price: $15.