West Loop T-shirts Threadless could sell
There is plenty of material for new Threadless T-shirt designs to be found in the West Loop
05/12/2010 10:00 PM
Although some West Loopers were sad to see the condo development proposed for 1260 W. Madison go defunct, I don’t think we need more empty condos in our economically challenged midst. And so I was terribly excited hear that the T-shirt company Threadless wants take over the 1260 parcel.
The company works with designers and artists across the globe, who submit shirt proposals through the Threadless Web site. The ones ultimately offered for sale are selected largely through a cool community ranking system online. Most of the shirts are graphic-driven, and offer a bit of whimsy or a touch of snark. “Gravity: it’s how I get down,” reads one such shirt.
Threadless’s coolness factor will solidify West Loop as a hip, energized neighborhood, especially if they treat the Madison-facing facade as a blank canvas expressing their creativity and verve.
Speaking of blank canvases, there is plenty of material for new Threadless T-shirt designs to be found in the West Loop.
I could imagine the West Loop-inspired shirt telling bits of our community story. Perhaps the Threadless online raters wouldn’t vote them up, but it’s still fun to imagine what the West Loop-centric T-shirt might look like.
So, designers, pay attention. Here are a few suggestions.
First, I’d like to see a creative rendition of “the meat market and the meet market,” featuring the juxtaposition of personalities around the Fulton Market district. Another natural is the “It’s Greek to me” T-shirt. Perhaps we could regale Threadless voters with our rich and varied backdrop through shirts based on “the advent of otolaryngology and a history of street walkers.”
For those of us who have been foolish enough to get into our cars on a night there’s a home game or concert at the United Center, how about a shirt showing two animals — a hawk and a bull — stalled in stadium traffic with Bruce Springsteen aboard one of the bars’ trolleys or the Madison Street bus?
A shirt entitled “Faceoff” could depict any number of neighborhood rivalries: Starbucks versus indie coffee shop loyalists; Skinner magnet versus local parents; or soft loft versus true loft lovers.
Here’s one Chicago Journal’s editor produced all too readily: “The nervous-looking-dog-owner-who’s-letting-Fido-run-off-leash-in-Skinner-Park” shirt. This would need to be followed up a month later by the “Whitney-Young-baseball-player-sliding-through-Fido’s-poop-on-his-way-to-third-base” tee.
Some slogans don’t require graphic interpretations, such as “Daytrippers Unite.” (Note to those interested in this one: Best worn on the weekends while mowing your suburban lawns far, far away from our coveted street parking.)
Who could forget the “Your building blocks my view” design? It would be perfect attire for walking by that new development you’ve been cursing, and a stylish piece to wear at the next contentious neighborhood development meeting.
If you work in the West Loop and often find yourself late to the office, you might consider the “An Oprah fan took my parking spot” tee.
And then there are the shirts featuring neighborhood fixtures, some of the folks who’ve lived here for at least 10 years, like my friend Vince and restaurateur Jerry Kleiner, who played an important role in shaping the neighborhood.
I picture Vince’s Threadless shirt showing him riding his iconic WWII-era motorcycle down Jackson Boulevard, illuminated by an autumn sunrise. Meanwhile, Kleiner’s T-shirt might depict pondering a restaurant. Titled “Pick a corner, any corner,” the shirt would show him scoping out storefronts at Green and Randolph, planning fine dining for Chicago’s old Skid Row.
Writing this column took twice the time it should have. I admittedly spent hours scanning Threadless.com for cool T-shirt designs and using their “share it” button to send Threadless job postings to friends via FaceBook and Twitter.
But that’s what makes Threadless’s arrival exciting to contemplate. Their concept is simple, elegant and fun.
Are there other West Loop-centric T-shirt designs that I missed? Readers likely have ideas of their own. Send the Journal your version of a sure-to-be favorite local T-shirt at firstname.lastname@example.org, or let us know through the comments section beneath this column at the Journal Web site, ChicagoJournal.com. Just click on the columnist link under the opinion section.