In yesterday's post we looked at Versace plagiarising – pardon – "paying tribute" to Joy Division. Yet the Joy Division situation has by now gone completely out of control. In recent weeks there has indeed been a proliferation of overpriced band T-shirts and sweats.
On sites such as Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Barneys and LuisaViaRoma you can opt between a T-shirt or a sweat with Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" album cover, a top announcing The Clash's Sandinista Tour, or a tee with The Misfits' of Black Flag's logo, but there are also a couple of garments dedicated to Blondie.
"Designed" by New York-based brand R13 (by Chris Leba), these pieces retail between €250- €275 (T-shirts) and €330 (sweats). Some of them are also covered in holes or fake tears and rips that "prove" you have been wearing them on an adventurous never-ending tour in which you worked as a loyal roadie and acted as a rebel groupie.
Now, as genuine music fans know, a band T-shirt is a great way to publicly show your allegiance to a music icon. The infinite possibilities of the Internet weren't available when I was a teenager and this meant that, when I couldn't find a T-shirt of a band I liked, I just made it by chopping up photocopies of album covers, articles, quotes and lyrics, collaging them together and then having my "artwork" printed on a T-shirt.
I would swap with other fans the most successful "designs" I made with (badly recorded) bootlegs on tapes that still made me happy. You may argue this was illegal, but, well, it was fun and the shirts and bootlegs were not for sale. In a nutshell, it was a fan thing and not part of a major business and the process meant you were a sort of devout member of a secret sect of fans.
So seeing a band shirt that you may create by yourself or that you may buy at a fraction of that price (a quick Amazon search with the words "Joy Division T-shirt" will produce garments going from £6.99 to £27.99) being sold by supposedly luxury retailers at immoral prices, deeply puzzles and disgusts me.
I'm not even sure if I'm more disgusted by the price, by the possible copyright infringement issues behind them (frankly, the excuse that a band's logo is not trademarked is a bit of an easy way out, the history of bands' logos is indeed a troubled one, with designers receiving at times no royalties or being paid very little...), by the fact that they show the fashion industry is mainly producing unoriginal fads, or by the fake holes on the garments (I honestly find it hard reconciling bands such as The Clash with this trend/with such prices).
Apparently, some (note: "some") of these pieces that plagiarise - pardon - "pay homage" to these bands are made from the "softest blend of cotton and cashmere". In a nutshell, they are not supposed to show your musical knowledge or allegiance to a band at a gig or in the street, but your cool status, showing off you are so perversely wealthy that you are able to afford such an item (even though you still love camouflaging this with an artificial patina of labour represented by the holes on it...).
In a way I'm terrified. What's next, indeed? Gary Lightbody's anonymous, plain and distressed T-shirt in Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" being repackaged as an extraordinary and exclusive item, and being revomited by some supposedly hip designer in a cashmere blend?
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