By and large, I loathe printed t-shirts. From an objective aesthetic point of view (if such a thing exists), they’re functional and often fashionable, laying bare the wearer’s up-to-the-minute awareness of the cultural zeitgeist and their own cultural affiliations. From a subjective, personal style point of view though, they’re difficult to wear (more often than not wearing the wearer rather than the other way ’round) and are usually either emblazoned with some excrutiatingly dumb slogan plucked from the latest reality TV show or a banal portrait of Rihanna (yeah, River Island, this one’s for you).
But sometimes a collection comes along to buck the trend.
T-shirt brand COLLECTIVE has prided itself for a while now on printed tees that, thankfully, go against the grain. To date, they’ve collaborated with two British talents, the stalwart photographer Terry O’ Neill and designer Savannah Miller (Sienna’s sister, and one half of label Twenty8Twelve). Now, it’s the turn of the late but to-be-lauded Irish photographer, Bob Carlos Clarke, who despite his suicide in 2006, lives on through his highly stylised, sensual and sometimes downright erotic photographic work. Helmut Newton is the obvious but all too convenient reference here; Clarke’s work bears a distinct similarity, but is perfectly capable of holding its own.
With this latest offering, Collective team with The Little Black Gallery and the Bob Carlos Clarke Foundation to re-convey 11 of Clarke’s extremely rare prints on premium organic cotton garments, which are produced in a sustainable manner and which aim to further Fair Trade in Africa.
Before I started collecting noteworthy fashion tid-bits on this blog, I may have been known to engage in a bit of light scrapbooking action involving shoddily tearing or cutting out images from the well-thumbed pages of magazines sourced from my sister, and then pasting them together to form the least coherent moodboards this world’s ever witnessed. One of the first to fall fate to a PritStik-ing was the above-right totally sexed yet serene portrait of Rachel Weisz by Clarke, For Dolls That Do Dishes (2004).
The tees retail at £60 each, and are available from Harvey Nichols and COLLECTIVE.