Just after the Spanish-American war, the U.S. Navy began issuing tee-shirts (so called because of their “T” shape when laid flat) as light, inexpensive undergarments. After World War II, the tee transitioned to civilian life as casual weekend wear, reaching its mid-century peak when Marlon Brando donned one in A Streetcar Named Desire. Today, “artisanal cashmere brand” The Elder Statesman sells what might be the pinnacle of the form: a 70% cashmere, 30% silk tee with a retail price of $495.
This tee-shirt - the tuxedo of the working man - has left us in a quandary. Of course, we want to ridicule this shirt. It is a $500, handmade-in-Los Angeles sign of the end times; it is the sartorial equivalent of New York’s $100 million penthouses, a luxurious middle finger at the 99%; it is an item that will be purchased solely by the hipster spawn of SOHO-dwelling artists whose found-art sculptures sell for nine figures.
And yet…we want this tee. No, we must have this tee. The unfinished hems are so cool, and that stylized, Ka-Pow!comic book dazzle/Broad City rip-off design is utterly captivating. This is the shirt of someone on whom the sun always shines, and through whose head the kicky refrain from Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks always plays. Whoever wears this tee-shirt will have 2015’s best summer. Please tell us what it is like.
Photos by The Elder Statesman