For our Oral History of the Graphic T-Shirt redux we connected with some of the leaders in the streetwear market to hear their thoughts on the current state of the industry and the most recent developments in the T-shirt game. We'll be rolling out our series of interviews all week, check out what jeff staple, founder of stapledesign, staple clothing, and Reed Space had to say about the current state of the T-shirt.
Complex: How did the recession affect the T-shirt game?
jeff staple: It affected it big time. I mean it was nuclear winter. That recession wiped out a lot of shit.
Complex: Sure. So where did it leave things?
jeff staple: As everyone knows, history repeats itself, and I think right now we are at the stage right before that. Everything has been cleaned out. People in the game either feel deflated because of the whole thing, or are just gathering enough energy to try . Whether try for the second time or maybe in some people’s cases to try for the first time. But I do feel like their will be a resurgence or Renaissance 2.0 of street culture.
Complex: Will we see a return of streetwear and the graphic T-shirt?
jeff staple: I think we’ll see a turn around with printed T-shirt graphics, and casual wear. The last time I wore a T-shirt, like out in the evening, I honestly can’t remember. But I can’t just use my personal choice as a barometer and be like, “Because of that Staple clothing will not be doing any more T-shirts.” There is still a fourteen year old, a sixteen year old, hell a twelve year old, that his first exposure to Staple will be a pigeon T-shirt. So creating them is about catering to that demographic. T-shirts will always be a significant core part of our collection.
Complex: Right now everyone is dressing pretty fancy. Is the chambray shirt era on the way out?
jeff staple: I think inevitably there will be a push back against he Americana, made in New York, hand crafted, hand tailored things. I don’t think that’s going away by any means, because that is genuinely really great stuff that is being put out there. And as more men are being exposed to that, they fall in love with it. That’s not something they are going to leave. But I do think that eventually people are going to get tired of being so serious and brown. It’s a natural movement.
Complex: How far out is the switch over?
jeff staple: I am already seeing it from a footwear standpoint, and footwear is such a great indicator of the culture. You can see that the Bo Jacksons are back, and the Ken Griffeys are back in their original acid green, neon, floral red colorways. You can see that technical stuff coming back now. And I think it is defiantly a pushback on brogues.
Complex: What brands are pushing the return? Who is going to be leading T-shirts and streetwear in the next few years?
jeff staple: The one brand that really comes to mind, and they are not a new guy by any means, is Acapulco Gold. I don’t know if this is true or not, but my external view of Acapulco Gold is that these are guys who are still having a piss and having fun at making fashion. They’re having a good time and tapping into that early spirit of why we got into this in the first place. They make great stuff and they also don’t take themselves too seriously. I love what they do as a retailer, and from a designer standpoint there is a lot that they do that I envy.