Trendy band t-shirts cause controversy

Sydney Kaplan, Sports Editor

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Going from Urban Outfitters to Brandy Melville, Julia Kempner ’16  is shopping in some of the most popular clothing stores in Westport. While there, she is destined to come across clothing items sporting some of her favorite artists. She is not talking about a Justin Bieber or a One Direction shirt; she is referring to the array of bands from the 80s and 90s whose logos are printed on soft t-shirts. These are sold with the hope that they are sending the message that their owner could be considered “trendy” or “hipster.”

“I do love wearing those old classic rock shirts myself to boast the memories of a better, more creative time in music,” Kempner said. “But when trendy stores like Brandy Melville and Urban Outfitters start using those classic artists as selling points to make teens feel more retro, it’s disrespectful to the band.”

Jackson Delgado ’18 agrees with the negative messages that these clothing items could send. “I think it’s pretty annoying if someone pretends to be interested in a band when they’re really not […] It could be disrespectful if the person doesn’t know the band or music and just wore the shirt because it looks cool,” Delgado said.

A stigma that surrounds vintage band shirts is that the owner of the shirt does not know the music. An example of this is what happened to Justin Bieber when he wore a Metallica band t-shirt on the Ellen Degeneres show. He got slammed by the metal community with aggressive messages directed at him, such as, “He probably hasn’t even heard 1 song” and “Justin Bieber singing ‘Sorry’ on The Ellen Show while wearing a Metallica t-shirt is probably the least metal thing to ever happen.” As it turns out, Bieber is actually a devoted Metallica fan, but people were judging him without knowing his taste in music.

Kempner has had a similar experience. “I recently bought a shirt from urban outfitters that was a really awesome copy of a Who tour shirt from 1976. And while I was trying it on, I was angry at the fact that I was worried people would think I’m a poser even though I’m one of the few who actually knows The Who and listens to them often.”

She continued to reflect on the fact that it has come to the point in society where even people who love these classic rock bands are scared to wear clothing supporting their favorite artists because there’s such a disconnect between millennials and classic rock.

Avery Marks ’17 disagrees with the judgement around these shirts. “I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal if people wear band shirts and they don’t know the music […] I know I have done it,” Marks said. “I know people who are more into fashion than music. If they think a band t-shirt has a cool design that will look good with different outfits, I don’t think not knowing the music should stop them from buying or wearing it.”

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