Towards the end of this article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Rob Walker writes, “Refusing to be the fodder for someone else’s lifestyle-making machine because you are building your own strikes me as a hollow victory. But maybe I’m just too old to get it.”
That’s certainly the way I feel. The story examines the phenomenon of underground T-shirt makers, who forge an idea and create products—mostly clothing and other items that transmit a brand name—around it. The “ideas” are sketchy; there are various takes on subverting consumer culture, although none of the explanations about what’s subversive here made much sense to me. I saw a bunch of examples of this sort of designer T-shirt at the Pitchfork Music Festival. In the struggle to express one’s individuality, or at least membership in an elite, non-mainstream community, nearly everyone looked like they were on the same team. It’s one thing to buy a white T-shirt and customize it as an extension of your own personality, and quite another to buy a manufactured model to try and accomplish the same task. Would the Baffler please stand up and explain all of this to me?