Saturday, April 24, 2010

Expressing Social Views Through Fashionable Design

If you look up the term "social", you will come across the German philosopher/sociologist Karl Marx, and in the view of Marx, "human beings are intrinsically, necessarily and by definition social beings who, beyond being "gregarious creatures", cannot survive and meet their needs other than through social co-operation and association." It would make sense then, that fashion has always been intrinsic to the expression of social views. For myself, growing up initially in the suburbs, then later with the beautiful coastal beaches as my stage, surf wear - in particular t-shirts - mixed with my Doc Martin shoes became my uniform... you can take the girl out of the west, but you can't take the west out of the girl...

My nostalgic moment does have a point. From my own experience, before we all had the internet along with the various social media platforms where we express our interests and connect with like-minded "social beings"; core social expression through fashion, was more likely related to behaviour in our immediate environment than other social interests we may personally have had... and for me, that was primarily the surf-bum lifestyle. I loved music. I loved film. Yet this was rarely displayed on my torso. If I walk the same beaches today, the variety of what people are saying about their social views is now far more diverse. This is a result of the internet. More of us connect with new people every day, and more of us are sharing our social views within the realms of online shopping. Therefore, not only is the social connection easier to make, the fashion to express these attitudes has become more accessible.

This brings me to a collection of designers with online stores who have clear and strong social views.

SPORTS: Be A Girl Today

There are a plethora of sport-themed shops to be found online with some shops having a singular focus towards one particular sport, while others take a different approach. What I like about Be A Girl Today is their concept; conceiving a catchy tagline "girls are athletes not tomboys". It's a clear message coming from the 5 sisters behind the brand - all of whom are active in various sports - which feature heavily in their range. Not only do their designs resonate pride with "ladies" participating in sport, their tagline shows how finding the niche that you are passionate about can result in a strong marketing device. Their product line includes adult t-shirts, kids t-shirts, stickers, and bags.


Wear My Dive Art is a shop for those who are "absolute die hard underwater enthusiasts!" Is this a biased pick based on my own love of the ocean? Maybe. However, that doesn't take away from the quality and variety of tee designs that this shop has on offer. Sheryl Checkman started the shop in 2005 in order to "express her love for scuba diving through t-shirt design." As an experienced graphic designer, she has combined two loves and created a t-shirt range that I can easily imagine many dive enthusiasts wearing... when not in a wetsuit! My personal favorite is "Live and Let's Dive" - an obvious play on the James Bond flick, and a nice reminder that we should all take that R&R we deserve! Wear My Dive Art isn't just t-shirts, however. They also offer their Dive Art on gift items (or what we at Tees In A Pod call "merchandise").


SEX, BEER, DARTS. Do I have your attention? Activities in pubs, bars or pool halls are easy targets when it comes to humor, and you'll find My Dart Shirts offer their fair share of humor for all "Dartaholics". Their shop is packed with designs that all have the same focus - playing darts! At the same time, the creativity behind the range has diversity that will appeal to multiple tastes. I commend My Dart Shirts for achieving this for their shop, and recognising that even within a "social group", diversity can be found. The primary focus of their product line is t-shirts, with a collection of other gifts as well as the option for customisation.

Geeks & Gamers: Geeky Teez

It's time to "Get Your Geek On" with Geeky Teez! While browsing through the design range offered, I had to ask myself, "am I a geek or a gamer"? Never having considered myself either, I nonetheless found myself smiling at their "Genius" t-shirt. So, I guess I'm a geek! The shop, by Juna Duncan, has a clever range of designs (a pre-requisite for any shop self-labelling themselves as "geek") that tailor to the "Gamer and Geek in all of us". It's a nice blend of wit and fun; retro and modern concepts; and graphic design that recognises when a concept needs words, and when to keep it simple. Their product line includes t-shirts, hoodies, bags, clocks and more.

Pop Culture Junkies: Poptastic Tees

Poptastic Tees is a dynamic duo (Arnold is their resident illustrator, and Cynthia is their art director & webmaster), each with a personal love of 80s sayings, TV and Movie quotes, and pop culture parodies - meaning they're in good company on this page with regards to designing for a niche that you personally love. Their connection to, and understanding of, specific popular culture, together with their collaboration and combined skills, equates to a high quality online store where an 80s child like myself can reminisce; or alternatively, embrace the indifference expressed by the modern word (or sound) "meh" (found in today's urban dictionary). Their product line is primarily focussed on t-shirts, with a collection of other gifts.

These are only a few terrific examples of shopkeepers who are bringing us all great designs that assist in our expression of social views. Whether you're "old school" and remember the days where friends enjoyed a good mixed tape thumping out of the boom box at the weekend beach party - or a modern day social media junkie * - you'll be able to find just what you need on a t-shirt to help you express your views.

* This post would be incomplete without mentioning social media junkies. It's the most modern social group which continues to grow and expand daily. In sync with this growth, some designers have added designs to their shop that tailor to these social media junkies. I have yet to come across a shop whose sole focus is social media views... if you know of one, leave a comment with a link! However, there are some shopkeepers who I'd like to mention: Doschicos Tees who offer a "Add as friend" tee for the Facebook fans, and an "America's Most Tweeted" tee for the twitter peeps. Then there's our own Tim Fox and his partner Dave who offer a Twitter Bird design on their Soge Shirts shop.

Now to hear from you!
Do you have a shop that is focussed on a particular social view? Or perhaps you'd like to share one of your favorite online spots or designs? Tell us all about it in the comment box below or on our Facebook Fan Page, Teesinapod!

Created By: Amanda Vare "Manz", GritFX, Movies, TV, and Pop Culture Tshirts


  1. Thank you for featuring Be A Girl Today!
    We appreciate it.

  2. Pleasure! Truly a terrific tagline that you all came up with. Not to mention that the designs have the same impact!

  3. This is so true. I have design sections in my shop for military families and the patriotic, one for Christians, one for music lovers, and another for nature lovers. In addition to what you named, I think TV and music videos also influence fashion.

  4. Hello Kim and thank you for the comment!
    I visited your shop. You know what you're doing - separating the designs into categories makes it nice and easy to find the range one is interested in... that being music for me. "Squeeze Me!" would have to be my favourite. I love a good pun!!

    Your parting comment is spot on. I couldn't agree more.

  5. Another satisfied reader... excellent! Thanks Kelly!! :)