Monday, July 20, 2009

A tribute to T-shirts

Figure Eight, a fashion and music event saw a hip crowd turning up in full force at their T-shirt bazaar and dancing to their line-up of local bands at the Central Market Annexe recently.

Though the flyer did not say it, there was no denying that this “do” was a tribute of sorts to the humble tee with the appearance of eight local bands wearing limited edition T-shirts.

Drummer and founder of Tugu Drum Circle, Paul Lau, 46, was the first to sing to his piece of cotton covering.

Hanging out in comfort: (From left) Shahir, Fyra and Ewan clad in to their favourite tees to suit the occasion.
“T-shirts are the easiest to wear when it comes to performances. Unlike sequined stage costumes that have to be dry-cleaned, you can just chuck a T-shirt into a washing machine. I’d rather wear them than anything else,” he said.

At the gig, Tugu Drum Circle wore white limited edition tees with colourful screen-printed figures designed by Kurasaraksaksa, a label that also carries a line of unusual jewellery, bleached and worn sneakers.

Otherwise, what makes a T-shirt cool, apart from the material, is definitely the design.

According to Norhayati Md. Noh, 3,1 of Dollhouse, the idea was to achieve authenticity with inspiration from everyday life.

“It is important to express oneself and the T-shirt is one way you can do that and be noticed,” she said.

And for a touch of radical self-expression, there is no better vehicle than the T-shirt.

DTG, an acronym for Don't Trust Girls, is one such label, a division of crazeecausa, a local line of skater related merchandise founded by a Mike Tan in 2004.

“Just like girls are always saying that boys are not to be trusted, here’s an insight to how boys feel about girls as well,” the stall operator said at the bazaar.

In what he terms as an effort to promote the local music and T-shirt art scene, Warren Chan, 29, organiser of Figure Eight, said it was inevitable for these two disciplines to complement each other.

Chicken Hotel: Norhayati of Dollhouse says this T-shirt is open to your interpretation.
“Musicians are like heroes and naturally, their fans would want to have a piece of them. One way to do this (in addition to buying the band’s music) is to wear a t-shirt with a picture of the band on it,” he said.

As for the objective of connecting T-shirts and music for the Figure Eight event, Chan said he had seen this as an opportunity to help the fledgling T-shirt design scene.

“It is a young but thriving market. This is largely due to the fact that T-shirt art is more accessible to the youth unlike art (say for example the work of a portrait artist) because they can wear it,” Chan said.

At this juncture, Reza Salleh, 24, Chan’s assistant said T-shirts were not only for the young but transcends across all generations.

“One of my favourite photographs is of my grandpa in a Batman T-shirt,” he said.

As for the negative image of the T-shirt wearer being a slovenly and unprofessional character, Reza said it was as a matter of perception.

“We are not here with the agenda to say that you should wear a T-shirt to the office though I know a lot of professionals who do. We are just giving the artists an outlet for creativity because we feel T-shirt art is a valid art form and it should be given the same amount of respect,” he said.

The Figure Eight event is organised by Junk, a music magazine that targets those aged 18 to 25.

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published in The Star on Saturday June 23, 2007

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