It didn’t take long for the masses to try to make money off the movement.
Print-on-demand (POD) sites like Cafepress and Zazzle now have a bazillion versions of “I am the 99%” t-shirts and other power-to-the-people products. What to make of all these people trying to cash in? Are they crass capitalists undercutting the whole ethos of the Occupy idea? Regular folks (out of work? underpaid?) trying to pay the rent anyway they know how? Or creative artists supporting the message while supporting themselves?
Maybe a little of each. But I’ve decided the marketing of Occupy is OK as long as the t-shirts and bumper stickers and cups are coming from individuals, not corporations with highly compensated executives. In fact, I’ve whipped up a few Occupy designs myself.
One thing I like about buying off the POD sites is that at least you don’t end up with a huge corporate logo all over your chest. What’s with that anyway? T-shirts should belong to the proletariat, shouldn’t they? T-shirts started out utilitarian in the early 1900s when the Navy issued them to sailors. By the time the Depression rolled around (the early one, not this one) the comfy, cheap shirts were de rigueur for farmers and others who worked outside.
The plain white t-shirt look became popular with guys after World War II (Think Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire). In the 60s hippies discovered the tee made a perfect canvas for tie-dye, and in the 70s it became popular for slogans.
But by the 1980s companies were plastering their own logo on the outside of clothing. This unfortunate trend started with stitched crocodiles and polo ponies on the chests of preppy men. When Calvin Klein’s name famously appeared on the jeans pocket of young Brooke Shield’s butt, retailers learned consumers would pay double for the “status” of conspicuous designer labels. No matter that flaunting your wealth is gauche, logos quickly found their way onto purses, sunglasses, flip flops and especially, t-shirts.
Nowadays it’s impossible to buy a t-shirt without a logo on it. And that’s a drag. As my son put it: “Why would I want to be a walking billboard? They should pay me to wear the shirt if they put their logo on it!” A brilliant marketing idea, really, for them to con us into being an unpaid part of their advertising campaign. But it’s time for the free ride to stop.
So, if you like one of these “real people” designs, go ahead and make a statement by buying one. In the French Revolution, the radical militants of the working class were known as the “sans-culottes” because they wore long pants, not the fancy shmancy silk knee-breeches of the more moderate bourgeois. Maybe today’s Occupy crowd can be known as “sans-logo” for eschewing brand-name t-shirts. Instead of being a walking billboard, they can be a walking protest sign . . . and at the same time support a real live artist. The hyper-PC can even pick t-shirts made-in-America of all-organic cotton from POD sites . . . all designed by some regular guy. Wearing one of these masterpieces, you can put down your cardboard sign and still broadcast your message.
Of course, you could just go out an buy plain white beefy T’s and a Sharpie and write your message on your chest.
I put up a list of my favorite Occupy t-shirt designs (some my own, some by others) on a Squidoo lens. Stop by and let me know which ones you like best.
You can check out my designs by clicking on the panel below. You can FB “Like” the one you like best. Or just buy it.
Look for a personalized gift at Zazzle.
If you want to make your very own design, click on the banner below and try out Zazzle. Very easy to use. For a limited time, I have a coupon for $10 a Zazzle product.
Lots of deals on OWS merchandise at Amazon.