Hate-scrolling my way through Instagram the other day (don’t lie, we all do it), I came across a particular caption that filled me with moderate levels of eye-rolling anger.
It was a lovely street style pic, from a lovely blogger, who was wearing a generic band T-shirt.
"All about the graphic tee lately," she captioned the post.
Graphic tee? …a band tee? Is that all a musician is reduced to these days, a ‘graphic’ to pimp up your #ootd?
This is a logo that represents the blood, sweat and tears that a band has put into their art, a logo that represents the entirety of their storied and well-worn music catalogue – and everything that that music means to people.
It isn’t, however, a ‘graphic’ to make you seem more ‘alt’.
How many bloggers sporting a Guns N' Roses tee from H&M on the reg do you think were at their gig last month? None?
I mean, I'm still wondering exactly how many bloggers think Thrasher is a band, on a side note. LOL.
If you think I’m being overdramatic about the people who created these 'graphics' and whether they even care about you sporting them as a #current fash statement, think again.
Thrasher, for example, doesn’t even want Rihanna and Bieber attempting to borrow their cool to lend an air of alt-culture to their outfits. So I can only imagine what they think of bloggers wearing them at fashion week in order to court an #ontrend outfit shot.
“We don’t send boxes to Justin Bieber or Rihanna or those f***ing clowns,” the editor told Hypebeast last year. “The pavement is where the real s*** is. Blood and scabs, does it get realer than that?”
This distaste is unsurprising. Band tees (and in this case, merch generally) have long been a form of non-verbal signalling – a way to express yourself through fashion when you don't give a shit about fashion.
Merch is, well, anti-fashion.
(On a side note I think Metallica would be horrified to know that pink Metallica tees are being sold at H&M.)
Meanwhile, the fashion industry rants about conglomerates taking money from small makers. About ethical fashion. About the sin of the rip-off handbag. So wait – we're all going to sit here hating on Zara’s fast fashion profits, while also wearing an AC/DC tee from Topshop? OK, just checking.
The profits for musicians have been dwindling for years. Streaming has seen a small window open up for artists to reclaim some of that, but it's not what it used to be. Often, the only way you can ensure money gets straight to artists’ pockets, is to buy a ticket to see them play. And then buy a tee at the gig. But what percentage of sales (if any) do you think goes to a band when you buy a shitty generic tee from a conglomerate?
Don't care? Then maybe stop sharing those articles about Zara ripping off a small artist, while also pretending to champion original copyright owners. I see your clicktivism, girl.
The least you could do is listen to an album or two on Spotify first. Buy a ticket to their gig. Wait it out and buy an authentic tee at a gig. Show some respect for the art.
But at the very, VERY least, if you’re wearing a band’s logo as a fashion statement, be able to name a single song or album they have made.
I dare you.
Follow Bianca’s band-tee loving journey of various bands she *actually* listens to over at @_thesecondrow.
Tests on their back catalogue welcome.