Monday, 20 November 2017

Bands not brands

I've seen a lot of discussion lately about not needing to listen to the band on your t-shirt, which I find perplexing honestly. I can't fathom why you'd want to wear and promote a band you don't even listen to. People seem to feel attacked like it's an elitist thing, but it's literally a 'why would you even want to?' thing.

I've seen many comments of 'it's just a t-shirt, it's not that deep' which I'm not sure whether is coming from a place of naivety or just ignorance. If music has never moved you, if you've never heard something that resonated with you so deeply that it meant everything to you, if you've never had a favourite band, I find that sad. Music means so much to so many. Music makes me happy, it articulates feelings I can't put words to, it makes me feel validated in my negative experiences and has gotten me through the very worst of times. Bands have literally saved peoples lives. It is that deep. And when I wear a band shirt, it's because I want to tell the entire world 'hey, this band means the entire fucking world to me'. Not, 'cool, a triangle with a rainbow through it'.

I understand people feel attacked for being questioned by strangers on the bands on their t-shirts. And as I listen to bands that are predominantly seen as having largely male fanbases (regardless of whether that's true or not) I get it. I've had men mansplain and tell me there's no one in Pink Floyd called Syd. I've had men ask me whether I really like vinyl or that particular band, or if I'm just trying to impress a male (because why else would a girl like something???). I've been quizzed on my pop knowledge as if I'm supposed to pass some test of being a 'true fan'. Seriously, I get it, I know just how much sexism there is in being a music fan, and it sucks. But you're not helping female music fans be taken seriously by wearing bands you know nothing about. Why shouldn't women be mocked for their interests when they bought their Beatles top at Primark and don't know what Iron Maiden means despite wearing it?

Also not everyone who asks you about your t-shirt is interrogating you. If I see someone, particularly a female, wearing a shirt of a band I love, I feel a connection because I assume we like the same thing and I want to get to know that person because we share an interest. Throughout the ages t-shirts have been used to communicate to others that they share interest in a subculture, in a movement, it's always been the one item of clothing anyone could wear regardless of dress codes or restrictions. You can't wear something that makes a statement of your interests, and then get upset because people are assuming you like that thing that you're wearing. Most people aren't interrogating you, they're simply excited to have found someone who likes the same thing that means a lot to them. And surely you'd too be upset if you then found out said person was actually just wearing it as a fashion statement? Even if music is just an empty, meaningless commodity to you, surely there's something else that you feel fiercely with your whole heart that you can liken the situation to?

Lines have become blurred in recent years, with fashion stores like Primark and Topshop stocking music t-shirts which is something I've always taken issue with. Previously if you wanted a band t-shirt you'd have to either buy it from a music venue, the band's merchandising directly, and basically put a little bit of work into getting it. Nowadays someone can stroll into Primark and purchase a Sex Pistols t-shirt just because it's the right shade of pink for their skirt (also let's marvel at the sheer irony of a punk band selling their wears in the most mainstream of stores). The lines between whats a band and whats a brand have become a little blurred, which was proven earlier this year when Kylie Jenner plastered her face over vintage band t-shirts. And fashion stores themselves have even been caught using bands images without consent.

But it's very easy not to be a mindless consumer. Google is free. So is YouTube. It's not like the old days where you had to invest money in a CD to find out if you like a certain band, you can literally listen to a couple of songs on YouTube for £0.00 to find out if this is a band you want to rep or not. Because like it or not, whatever your stance on the issue, when you wear a band shirt you are representing a band. So why not make sure that it's a band that represents who you are?

pink floyd t-shirt - forever 21 // skirt - 1970s vintage // shoes - 1960s vintage // necklace - indian silver via oxfam


  1. What a fab outfit, I love that skirt.
    Oh yeah, the band tee as a fashion accessory. I hear ya. Even worse are those babygrows with rock band name on them, worn by the offspring of middle class yummy mummies trying desperately not to be like an average mum - and always are.
    Best thing ever was the young hipster who stood next to us at a bus stop wearing an early Charlatans tee shirt with Jon's face on it - Jon got chatting to him about Some Friendly - he didn't have a clue who Jon or the LP was! x

    1. I agree on the babygrows, as if babies have any sense of what their preference in music is! It similarly irks me when people claim to have been fans of a band since they were toddlers, as if they had any idea what they were hearing at that age. It just all feels really try-hard.
      That's hilarious! I heard of something similar happening to Mark Hoppus of Blink 182. It's kinda sad really.

  2. It’s never made any sense to me either why people would wear a band tee but not even like the band. I’d personally be pretty embarrassed to do it, especially because you can wear literally any t-shirt in the entire world, so why wear one that does have a meaning when you can just easily wear one that is meaningless? Why devalue something that’s cool and look like an idiot because you don’t know anything about the thing you’re repping when you can buy any other black or white t-shirt and get the same look?

    In any case, people are going to keep doing it, but it does bug me a little too. Particularly because if you do really like a band like the Beatles I wouldn’t wear a t-shirt of theirs because I feel like everyone would just think I’m wearing it for fashion, which wouldn’t be the case at all. If you wear a band tee they don’t have to be your absolute favourite band in the entire world, but if you don’t actually listen to them then why would you want to? And I totally agree that the irony is almost too much to think about how much someone like Sid Vicious would be turning over in his grave because Sex Pistols t-shirts are being sold at Primark and Forever 21, lol.


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