Think Piece- Care For The Bands You Wear

5 Seconds of Summer, One Direction and Miley Cyrus are just some people that have sported the classic band tee, but when it comes to the general public, where do you stand?


Queue the skinny ripped jeans, intentionally or DIY with a pair of vans authentic or maybe converse if you’re still playing that game. Wait, something seems to be missing. Oh right, it’s a band t-shirt! Here are some recommendations for shirts that by wearing them, you’ll definitely appear ‘cool’ to your peers- Metallica, Guns & Roses and why not, Nirvana.

Everything seems to be changing and we are the generation to witness a large portion of it- technological advances and I bet you didn’t think about this, but the visitation of iconic rock t-shirts settling amongst the floral kimonos and The Simpsons collection in H&M. Lucky for some, they don’t need to fork out a mere £10 to see a band play at the Asylum, Birmingham before waiting at the merch stand to purchase another item that costs more than what you can get in retail stores. There goes the days of standing at the merch table and thinking ‘What t-shirt should I buy?’ But what about the people who actually want to do just that?

At least then you’ll know they are there for the music itself and not because it’s ‘cool’ or because it is ‘the trend’. Pretty much all of us have find out during our time in school that it takes a large amount of time and effort trying to fit in, Ain’t nobody got time for that. And as much as we dread looking back at ‘what we used to be’, admittedly you couldn’t have went through school without falling into the Pete Wentz/Fall out boy phase. Out came the hair straighteners, eyeliner and a flat cap beanie.

Alternative band t-shirt have become apparent recently with the rise of retail stores selling these products, boosting their profits but shrinking the confidence of music fans being able to approach a fellow Guns & Roses fans for example with the fear of embarrassment on their half for not knowing anything about the band but made the purchase as ‘it looked pretty’. The saying ‘each to their own’ is applicable in this circumstance, but not so much when compiling a list of the pros and cons of these types of people. We’ve gone past hipsters and the ‘trendsetters’. It has gone past the point of not being able to find a name for these sorts of people, that’s how worrying this is. Come on guys, this is our generation! I’m all for starting something new or being the ones who make a difference, but stepping into the territory of bands like ACDC and Metallica, you would rather keep out of that right? Maybe not. I believe this to be solely around the romanticism of nirvana, especially front man, Kurt Cobain. Now with the release of his documentary ‘Montage of heck: Kurt Cobain’, there is more exposure through the use of merchandise and more viably accessible to an audience of who were not born before the tragedy or the rise of their musical career.

Fashion from the 90s is what has made a comeback, recreated from a generation hoping to make a difference with the use of social media and the internet. A vintage looking graphic band tee tucked in with high waisted jeans and platforms is the ‘essential’ items in the wardrobe of the majority of bloggers/youtubers out there. Don’t get me wrong, of course people know of Metallica and The Ramones, but the lines between actually knowing the artists and their music or buying the item if it just looks fashionable is blurred.

A contemporary band that have got people talking are 5 seconds of summer as through the majority of Instagram and publicity photos sees each member rocking a band tee. Mentioned numerously their inspirations are bands such as Green Day and Blink-182. What people were up in arms about was at the Billboard music awards, singer Luke Hemmings, pictured second to the right was sporting a Misfits sleeveless vest. They were around way before 5sos were even born, but that doesn’t mean that showing part of his cultural significance in his own way is a bad thing. Also the debate of whether they are classed as pop punk or pop does not restrict them from expressing other parts of their personalities, other than through their own music.



How many of us convinced ourselves in younger years that we would stick to one genre and that would be it? As we get older, we appreciate variety more so than we ever imagined, especially when it comes to music as it is seen as a form of expression; whether that’s singing along or purchasing visual merchandise.

The media cannot be blamed for everything, but large portion of stereotyping and how someone should be/is perceived comes from their end. ‘Guilty pleasures’ is a term that is out there, referring to things you are embarrassed about liking or would be seen as ‘something I thought you would like’ if told to close friends. If someone is not dressed to match their interests or the type of music they listen to seems to be something that leaves people muddled. From past experiences, when asked about what sort of music I am in to, the mention of rock music leaves the look surprise and being intrigued as if we are looking at it stereotypically, I wouldn’t say it fit into someone who listens to rock. None can define personal preferences by appearance, I’m more than happy to turn up the radio to a One Direction song if I enjoy it.

It’s a tricky one. Beyond the thought process and meaning behind classic rock anthems like ‘Drain You’ by Nirvana and ‘Man in the Box’ by Alice In Chains is the replication of the grunge style from the 90s. Style over substance.

Not always thought about with the audience is the selling of band merchandise helps the bands more than we can imagine, especially smaller/emerging artists. The struggles of working in a tough yet challenging industry like music is a goal many work towards and can only do the majority with the support of their fans. Whether rocking the tee as a genuine supporter of the band and their music, fair play. Wearing it for fashion reasons still support them, of having people coming up to you, asking how you got into the genre plus the connection music has as a whole. If you’re not as clued up on them, it’ll push you in the direction of finding out more about said band- who knows, they may end up being your favourite band. There’s no test when it comes to proving how much of a fan you are. Purchasing a ticket to see them on multiple dates would prove as dedication but so it wearing the shirt or buying as little as a wristband.

You can’t truly tell someone’s musical preference just from first impressions but a good band t-shirt will always get the conversation started.

With this being said, it’s not all the time where sporting a band shirt were considered part of mainstream, so with anything isn’t it always best when you are able to share it with as much people as possible? Or are we still stuck in the phase of ‘I liked (insert band name) first so you cannot!’

Here’s what some people had to say on the topic when I took to Facebook asking about their opinions on wearing band t-shirts without not necessarily knowing of them.

Claire Downe: “I bought a Nirvana shirt in penny’s (Primark) today and I was chuffed because I love the band and then I saw like 20 other people who don’t even know the band.”

Stephen Thompson: “Rather than judge the people who buy the t-shirts straight away, maybe you should ask them. Spend some time wandering around town asking people who wear these typical Primark band t-shirts like do you know the band, do you have a favourite song by them, did you see them live ever etc.”

Suvie Tholen: I just don’t like walking up to someone because they’re wearing a cool band shirt and then they don’t even know the band. It’s quite disappointing.

Heather Clarke: “It’s no different in my opinion to someone wearing a Jack Daniels t-shirt even if they don’t drink it”.


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