It started off innocently enough.
First, there were baby tees — you know, the kinds with Beatles song lyrics imprinted on the front next to photographs of Abbey Road or of John Lennon’s somber stare. Then, the revolution started — t-shirt makers (and hoodie, sweatpant, and bag) makers across the world cashed in on making merchandise with popular bands as a selling tool. The Strokes, the Smiths…heck, I can get Lady Gaga’s (hopefully, sans the prosthetic horns) on an otherwise plain shirt from Zara for under $25 bucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I always thought fashion and music worked off one another for inspiration (anyone remember that scene from Clueless where Cher got dressed to David Bowie’s Fashion? No? Well, I do!) but when does music become fashion and fashion become music? When the two combine, it’s hard to make the distinction, yet there should be some sort of line…right?
Case in point: one of my dearest friends, who I shall call Jelly Bean for the sake of her identity, and I decided to go shopping. While on our quest to find a pair of espadrilles that didn’t look like grandma shoes, we somehow ended up in Hot Topic (purely for the laugh factor, I assure you). While browsing the dimly-lit and somewhat dingy store (if you’ve been to the one in Staten Island Mall, you know what I’m talking about), I heard an over-excited shriek that sounded far too inhuman to be emitting itself from an all-too-human body. I immediately flounced over to examine the cause for such alarm to myself, and then she held up a shirt that, frankly, I don’t have the words to describe accurately: black, save for the neon imprint of a face that looked like a cross between a kitty and an alien, with the words “KE$HA” in metallic blue scrawled over the cat/alien/person’s eyes. The shirt itself was shapeless and made of a thick fabric.
In all meanings of the word, it was hideous.
“So, do you like it? Isn’t it awesome?” Jelly Bean exclaimed, holding the shirt up proudly.
“Um, do you even like Ke$ha?” I refrained from stating the obvious — that I’d rather wear a plastic bag than get near that thing.
“No, but I like the shirt! What does it matter if I listen to her or not?” was J.B.’s ever-so sensible reply.
Let’s assume that the shirt was, indeed, not horrendous-looking. Was it right, though, that Jelly Bean wanted to buy a so-called “band shirt” (the cashier at Hot Topic’s words, not mine) of a band that she doesn’t even listen to? Doesn’t that destroy the whole point, then, to walk around like a walking billboard? Hypothetically, if you don’t make the distinction between “good” music and “bad” music, it still shouldn’t matter — band shirts are only meant to be worn by fans of the band, not by someone that randomly decided that they like the shirt. False advertising, people.
For the record, Jelly Bean didn’t buy the shirt. The $20.50 price tag for essentially a printed Hanes undershirt deterred her.