Baring Your Chest

Geek culture is all about the t-shirt. From the days when Superman yanked open his buttons, cool has been defined by the logo between your nipples.

I’ve been trying to work out (Superman’s nipples aside) just where this is going.

Five years ago, at Star Wars Celebration Europe, the Grand Moff Tarkin offered me sixty quid for my Gentle Giant Tour tee – and, frankly bemused, I turned him down.

At Kapow! last year, the ‘who’s got the coolest tee’ battle really heated up with some fantastic contenders – but was won by the bloke with the ‘Han Job’ image. Included here for full impact.

A couple of months back, thanks to the intervention of @loudmouthman and the networking of twitter, I was able to send Colin Baker a sixth doctor costume tee, purpose-made for him by Titan Merch.

And then yesterday, I had a phone call from a financial journo doing an article on t-shirts worn in the City. Three-piece suits are no longer required, it seems – if you work in the high gloss of Canary Wharf, it’s all about your tee.

And that made me chuckle. It also made me think.

The costume tee thing has been a recent stroke of Titanic genius – not just the good Doc, but everyone from Dredd to Venkman has appeared (or will) on chests at Cons all over the world. The Canary Wharf thing, though, implies that this has bust out of the Con circuit and is joining the rise of geek culture in the mainstream.

Look at the Haynes Manual x Star Wars tees – don’t they do exactly the same thing?

Taking this one step further, Threadless has cross-bred social networking with Etsy with geek tee cool and enables you to upload and showcase – and possibly have made – your own tee art. There are companies like spreadshirt and streetshirts which allow you simply make your own. And look at how far our friends at Genki Gear have come!

Where this meteoric rise of cotton cool will end, I have no idea – at the moment neither the sky – nor the neck – are the limit. As the lines between types of genre ‘platforms’ blur – films to toys to garments to games to artwork – the expansion is exponential…

It’s easy to see one thing, though. Whether Geek Chic or Hot in the City, it’s all about baring your chest.