Tee Up: Tourne de Transmission’s AW13 T-Shirts
Few garments define streetwear’s sartorial dominance from mid 20th century and onwards as the T-shirt. As a mouthpiece for slogans, a white canvas for graphic art and the ultimate in casual simplicity, it has come to represent both youth movements and pop culture. The T-shirt continues its reign to this day; its catwalk appearances, especially as a printed forum for opinion, might be few apart, but it still rules the streets. This makes the short sleeved top the perfect symbol for a generation of customers hellbent on making themselves heard. Plenty of brands has examined this pathway in the past, and continue to do so. Countless famous brands started as T-shirt labels – Patrik Ervell, Our Legacy and Martine Rose’s LMNT, to mention but a few – before developing into full scale fashion brands. The same goes for London-based Tourne de Transmission.
The brainchild of a fashion PR supremo, the power of a printed message isn’t lost on Graeme Gaughan. T-shirts are statement pieces without being show pieces, the difference being that you don’t need a catwalk to make them count. TDT is of course about a lot more than Tees – look out for the trainers in collaboration with Swear, lush leather jackets and logo sweats – but they were the starting point and they continue to define the brand. More then other pieces in the collection, they are able to set the tone and mood through the visual language of words and images. Gaughan uses them to tell his story, each season there’s a new message, a different theme. In honour of T-shirts in general and the Tourne de Transmission ones specifically, I chose my favourites from the upcoming AW13 collection (see above), asked the G man himself to explain and got given these exclusive images from the actual screen printing process (below).
‘Smile’ was from AW13 which was based around Jack London book ‘People of the Abyss’. It’s basically a diary of living in the east London slums (what now is Spitafields, Mile End, Stepney and Bethnal Green) during the industrial revolution. It was actually a Collage doctorate by a middle class man who had emerged himself in squaller and poverty to write this biopic. It’s quite disturbing and the conditions people lived in are pretty awful, but what made me think is that he always mentioned kids or young people in the slums with a smile on their faces, expecting this great future from all the industry. This is where the ‘Smile, a revolution is coming’ idea came from.
The orange square came as a reference of the blast furnaces of the industrial revolution and iron ore. TDT tends to stick to a monochromatic palette but we have started to add a dash of colour and this orange felt right for the season and references. Turns out a few other designers felt the same… maybe it’s something to do with our own economic times or climate… There’s a lot of smiling at the moment, but what is beyond that?
The ‘Substance’ print came about for two reasons – being a massive fan of anything Joy Division and New Order, I have always wanted to put the word ‘Substance’ on a Tee, and it also fitted nicely with the theme of the collection given its industrial and blast furnace theme. The rock formations in the image made me think of men picking away and digging for coal near to where I grew up in the west Midlands, a place called Coalbrookdale where the industrial iron smelting started in the 1700s.
‘New Social Order’ Tee
This, again, has a not so distant Peter Savile / New Order ring to it, but it is in fact more to do with a phrase often used in conjunction with the Industrial revolution. It was a time of great change, and with ordinary people or ‘industrialists’ being able to make their own fortunes it was indeed a time of massive social change.
This was a quite stark reflection of the conditions detailed in Jack London’s book. The term Slaves to the Modern abyss has so many meanings, even today. It was a term the author used about that time but I think he was also looking to the future himself. There are some things that hasn’t changed – social pecking orders are still present, and the overwhelming tidal wave of new technology seems somewhat like how the Victorians looked with excitement at the new technological age. But everything is at a cost… even if it’s a hidden cost. Sounds somewhat sombre but I have my reasons…
More info on Tourne de Transmission HERE