One of the best things about independent t-shirt brands is that you know you own something unique. You’ve got a design that hasn’t been mass produced by a bunch of underpaid children in Asia, and every time you buy one of these shirts you are not only supporting a skilled artist, but you are buying a piece of art that you can wear regularly and show off to the world.
One of the worst things about independent t-shirt brands is that no matter how awesome they may be, they can be a tremendous pain to find. To cut down on some of that Google searching, here are ten of the best brands you’ve probably never heard of.
Facelift shirts offers more than just organic, recycled, soft shirts that you’re no doubt going to enjoy wearing. They have what may be the first ever shirt whose design is enhanced by flashing strangers your abs. Not only do they have their own unique design on the outside, but if you grab the shirt and put it over your face like you’re from Jersey Shore, you get a whole new personality at your fingertips.
Go Ape Shirts features some of the most well-known artists in the t-shirt world under their own independent shirt label. Started by Josh Perkins, an artist that has printed at Threadless, among other places, Josh offers his own screen printed AA shirts with funny and cool designs of all different flavors that you are certain to love.
Edgar R. McHerly has his own cult following in the t-shirt world. When too many of his designs were getting snubbed for Kawaii prints over and shirt.woot, Edgar decided to open up his own store and sell some of the dark and interesting designs he’s become known for. Be warned before you go over there though: Some of the shirt designs may blow your mind.
It is a well-known fact that there are not nearly enough cupcake shirts in the world. Thankfully Cupcake Cuties Apparel is looking to put an end to that. This UK based apparel company may be one of the only cupcake shirt companies that are designed for “Emo, Alt, Indie, Metal, Rock or Trendy” fashion styles. Hopefully they start a trend.
You know what’s cool? Bears. You know what’s really cool? Bears that are chillaxin’ like people. As long as you’re not Stephen Colbert, you’ll probably get a kick out of some of the tees over at Bear Annihilator, designed by 4 college students that wouldn’t mind if you rocked out to one of their totally bearable designs.
6. S2S Nation
S2S Nation is a Canadian company that had a cool idea: Offer environmentally friendly and wickedly soft 70% Bamboo shirts while accepting user submitted designs and offering a prize to all of the winners. The company is new and not well known, but they already have some sweet designs like Panda Revolution, The Creator, No Fear and more. Plus if you’re an artist you can win cash prizes. That’s something.
7. The Affair
Back before there was television, iPhones and YouTube, there were these things called “Books” (Boo-uck) that people would read because reading was fun-damental. In honor of those days, The Affair decided to create a clothing line of literature inspired art, using some of the world’s most renowned writers, including Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and more. Their designs are limited so check it out soon before they, like books, become a thing of the past.
Random Objects uses primarily text based designs, but has a wonderful use of canvas and designs shirts that provide a little bit of wisdom in an otherwise chaotic world. When you want a shirt that makes the world a more intelligent place, you want a shirt from Random Objects
9. 604 Republic
Under the tagline “Gear for Every Geek,” 604 Republic has much more than simply geek-centric designs. They also have zombies. Lots of zombies. Based in Vancouver, Canada, the store was founded by Sebastian Arciszewski, who also founded another pop-culture t-shirt store called Split Reason. Geeks, gamers, and those that think clothes with geek and gamer references are as excellent as they are will probably find his shirts to be some of the coolest tees around.
Based in the UK, artists Matt and Harry believe that art should be wearable and thought provoking. Most of their shirts either reference an issue with society, or show trees rocking out. Either way, you’ll probably approve.