This article monitors movements in design styles, garment-printing applications, types of wearables, and more.
By Ed Branigan
Music affects fashion
Why go to all of these lengths to reproduce the look and feel of a garment that was produced 30-40 years ago? The short answer is because it has become fashionable. A change occurred in attitudes toward the T-shirt and its relation to dress during the growth of mass consumer culture. Think of the Hilfiger brand. In the early 1990s, Hilfiger became almost ubiquitous in the apparel world when African American teenagers everywhere took to wearing the signature logo en masse. They were emulating the famous hip hop artists of the time who publicly wore Hilfiger’s clothes. The broad appeal of hip hop culture ensured that that particular fashion style would cross over into the mainstream.
Hilfiger wasn’t the only one, of course. Other private retailers like The Gap, Levi’s, and Calvin Klein all moved in the same direction. Call it a cultural convergence. Fashion, music, sports, and entertainment all became synonymous as far as marketing merchandise was concerned. Sports stars, rock stars, fashion, movie, and TV celebrities—whether qualified or not—all began to have a pervasive influence on what we wore. For teenage boys and young men who came of age during this time and after, the T-shirt was different. It became the signboard that directed people as to what group you belonged to or what your opinions were. This didn’t just apply to the type or cut of garment that you wore, but also to what was printed on it.
At first, the graphics were as basic as before: logo driven and uniform. Front, back, and sleeve prints only with very little derivation from this. Corresponding developments in ink and machine technology began to open up manifold print-application possibilities at the same time. As far as machines go, the impetus would naturally be to make them print more colors faster and break down less—and this is, for the most part, the advancement that has occurred. At the same time, a burst of ink technology brought gels, metallics and glitters, adhesives, high-density, and texturing inks.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.