Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reinventing The V-Shirt With Affliction

AfflictionThere has always been a love-hate relationship with T-shirts. Everybody wears them, but few people consider them fashion. Not really, even if one of them happens to be your favorite.

It might have something to do with how they started. Around the Great Depression, it was the default garment worn by farmers and ranch hands. That didn't change so much until Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire as a precursor to their popularity in the 1960s. Two decades later, the 1980s heat-transfer look made them uncool. It took the 1990s to rescue them again.

What to watch for this summer is a return to the retro styling of V-neck T-shirts. While it was common as a work shirt in the 1940s, the V-neck became more popularized for its sports applications. This time around, it's one of several detailing features that help take T-shirts up a notch.

Neckline cuts from split crew to V makes tees more interesting.

While designers have always wanted to make better tees, it has been the greater emphasis on the neckline helping some people appreciate the tee again. Affliction has known it for some time. It's how the clothing designer originally made its mark.

Warbird Squadron SS V-Neck TeeTheir new summer line has some interesting twists, but many of the designs look better with a V neck. The Cedar SS V-Neck Tee (above) is just one example with silver foil on black and the design offset from the center. But when you look at the greater body of work being done at Affliction, you'll see plenty of other elements in the mix.

When you browse the various designs, you'll note that some include black yarn stitching around the sleeves. Others include a seam down the front like the Warbird Squadron SS V-Neck Tee, creating the illusion of a button down. But all of them, even if the traditional scooped crew still carries the top tab, work with the V-neck stylings.

V-Stain TeeOf course, Affliction isn't the only one increasing its selection of V-neck tees. I spotted a Volcom V-Stain Tee sporting a regular fit V-neck to its line with allover stain pattern this weekend. And Ben Sherman had added an SS Henley T with 4-button placket with allover heathered detailing. Sure, the Henley is a design unto itself, but this shirt relies on the V-neck as much as the placket.

All of the T-shirts are 100 percent cotton. However, Affliction's blend tends to feel lighter and fit tighter than other brands. But once you know how the shirts fit, it's easy enough to order them any time, online or off.

A quick flashback to how every Affliction design gets its start.

While not everyone appreciates the designs, Affliction tends to fit because many of its T-shirt designs originally grew out of a concept based on tattoos and biker art. All of the designs start out as hand drawn black and white illustrations before coloring, layers, and dyes are mixed for the final designs. Their team has insane talent, often setting trends to watch for.

Originally opened in 2005, the company started with simple skull and crossbones designs before branching off into other Xtreme-related genres, including mixed martial arts. It was by sponsoring several UFC fighters that the small clothing line grew into the multi-brand company it is today.

The V-Shirt By Affliction Draws A Line At 7.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Affliction Clothing recently opened its 2,500-square-foot flagship store near its corporate home in Seal Beach on June 4. The opening was attended by dozens of tattoo artists, metal artists, and leathersmiths. Live music was provided by The Black Cloud Collective. While I missed the opening, I visited the store last week. It's smartly industrial and spacious.

The Cedar SS V-Neck Tee is available from Affliction Clothing direct for about $54. So is the Elevated Truth SS Tee ($58) and Warbird Squadron SS V-Neck Tee ($58). You can also find the SS Henley T ($59) at Ben Sherman and the Volcom V-Stain Tee ($22) from Becker Surf.
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