The perfect: T-shirt

Words: Charlotte Core

It’s the most fundamental piece of every wardrobe. But what do our panel of industry insiders – from David Fischer at Highsnobiety to Kim Jones at Dior Homme – look for when it comes to buying, designing, or thrifting the ultimate T-shirt? Scroll to find out.

Meet the panel

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Kim Jones

Creative Director of Dior Homme

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Samuel Ross

Founder of
A-Cold-Wall*

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David Fischer

Founder of Highsnobiety

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Natasha Advani

Founder of NOT/APPLICABLE

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Matt Sloane

Founder of Teejerker

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Nicholas Brooke

CEO of Sunspel

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Bosse Myhr

Selfridges Director of Womenswear & Menswear

Kim Jones – Creative Director of Dior Homme

Sum up what makes the perfect T-shirt. 

Simplicity and good graphics.
 

Many of your T-shirts feature collaborations with artists, from Daniel Arsham to Sorayama. How do these come about? 

It’s really organic; I meet with the artists and we just go from there. With Daniel Arsham, who I worked with on his 'The House' Corner Shop pop-up at Selfridges last winter [and who also designed Dior Homme’s SS20 show space], it was a way to combine art and fashion, particularly in regards to the effect time has on both, in a way that felt authentic to our work.
 

What are your favourite T-shirts from your personal collection?

Either a Minor Threat tee, or a Black Flag tee that was designed by Raymond Pettibon. Also, some more ‘Straight Edge’ [band tees] from Gorilla Biscuits or Youth of Today.
 

Plain or printed?

I tend to just wear plain black now…

Nicholas Brooke – CEO of Sunspel 

For Sunspel, the perfect tee is all about keeping it simple and focusing on materiality.


 

A lot of people tell me our T-shirts are unique. There’s a reason for this: we’ve been making them for over 100 years! For us, it’s about going direct to the source of the cotton for the highest quality fibres. We design how these fibres are spun to create a unique jersey that’s both soft and durable. We’re continually updating and improving our fits.

 

Bosse Myhr – Selfridges Director of Menswear & Womenswear

What makes the humble tee so great?

The print and fit need to be great. In general, I prefer larger, oversized tees. A good T-shirt is like a good bottle of wine; they age well, becoming better the older they are.
 

What are your favourite T-shirts from your collection?

If I had to choose one, then it’s this Keith Haring, Malcolm McLaren x Supreme one [pictured]. I probably bought it over 10 years ago now. Also, an old Number (N)ine tee from 2005 (it was designed in a band tee style) has aged insanely well. It has holes all over it and the cotton is super-soft from washing over the years.
 

What T-shirts do you currently have in your Selfridges wish list?

The Futura x Off-White collab shirts, and a hand-painted Raf Simons T-shirt – it’s a piece of art, [the collection is] super-limited-edition and each piece is unique.    

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A short history of the tee

Did you know the humble tee started out life as a jumpsuit for labourers? Workers would cut them in half during the summer months to keep cool, and thus, the T-shirt was born. Initially, tees would only ever be worn as an undergarment (or by the US forces who would tuck them into trousers, with the item becoming part of the US Navy uniform in 1913), but it soon gained popularity as a wardrobe essential in the 50s, thanks to Hollywood’s Marlon Brando and James Dean.

Anatomy of the perfect tee

David Fischer – Founder of Highsnobiety

What would you say are the fundamental elements of the perfect T-shirt?

It seems so simple, and yet it is not at all. Every detail about a T-shirt matters. The weight of the fabric, the cut, of course… These two are the main things to look at.
 

What kind of tees are you into?

I pretty much wear a plain-white T-shirt 340 days of the year… That’s my main thing, and every few years I find a new favourite. Sometimes, I’m more into lighter-weight, soft tees; sometimes, I’m into heavy-weight and oversized. What I love about T-shirts is that the price is not always the best way to figure out what’s good.
 

Of all the years reporting on streetwear drops and fashion collections, are there particular brands or styles that stand out for you?

Moving away from plain T-shirts, there are absolutely standout graphic T-shirts every season. I consistently like what’s coming from C.E, Undercover and Braindead in that area.

Natasha Advani – Founder of NOT/APPLICABLE

When sourcing vintage T-shirts, Natasha Advani is drawn to nostalgic graphic prints.

 

 

I look for graphic tees that gives me a nostalgic feeling… I gravitate towards music tour T-shirts from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, because that’s what I grew up listening to. The graphics were unique and thoughtful, which paved the way and inspired merch for artists today.
 

Matt Sloane – Founder of Teejerker

As a collector and seller of vintage band T-shirts, Matt Sloane knows a thing or two about sourcing the ultimate tee.

What is it about band tees that you love?

I think it’s really cool when a T-shirt completely sums up a sub-cultural movement. For example, Black Flag are a punk band from California who were most active in the 80s, and their guitarist’s brother Raymond Pettibon did most of the artwork for them. It’s all iconic. [Their] once-black T-shirts are now a light grey from being worn in the California sun for 30 years – and they might even have a couple of blood stains on them from old shows! That’s what makes band tees special to me.
 

How should we take care of a vintage tee?

For a tee that’s thinning, it’s a good idea to wash it in a lingerie bag, and definitely don’t tumble dry it. A lot of vintage tees are still in pretty good shape. In this instance, wash normally; it just adds to the character.
 

FAVOURITE BAND T-SHIRT, EVER? 

It would be really hard to narrow it down to just one! Recently, I got a Microsoft tee from LA [pictured]. There’s a nod to Matisse on there and it’s such a soft, well-fitted T-shirt. But this one was beaten just the other day when I received an early 90s Aphex Twin shirt – black-on-black and perfectly worn-in. A tee [that represents] the most genre-defining artist in electronic music of our generation. 

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Did you know…

Super rare band tees are seriously big business? One of the most expensive T-shirts ever sold at auction was a rare 1979 Led Zeppelin at Knebworth T-shirt: it went for $10,000 to an anonymous bidder in 2011…

Samuel Ross – Founder & Creative Director of A-COLD-WALL*

Your T-shirts feature a visible ‘mission statement’ patch – what is the statement about?

The focus for the patch is communicating the root cause and engrained values of how A-COLD-WALL* came into fruition. It’s the most concise way to inform our community. The label assists in understanding our decisions and design values.
 

What inspires the distinctive cuts and seams of your T-shirts?

Asymmetric cuts, flat locking and overlocking are key signifiers of A-COLD-WALL*. [I’m inspired by] Brutalism, architecture and hand-touch.
 

What’s your favourite T-shirt in your wardrobe? 

I have 10 A-Cold-Wall* heavy GSM [grams per square metre] T-shirts with no branding – I live in these.
 

Imagery of glass blowers feature on your latest T-shirt designs – what inspired this? 

Process, documentation and storytelling. My father is a stained-glass artist, and it’s a material I’ve been around my entire life. Shedding light on a more personal nuance is rare for me – the glass blower graphic is pretty personal.

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