Locker: the best graphic T-shirts

A selection of the latest tees, for all the collectors out there

Powers

Designer Eric Elms has led a charmed life. Before he moved to New York from his hometown, San Diego, some 17 years ago, Elms had already worked with the world famous artist and Obey-founder Shepard Fairey. Then, two months after starting at the Pratt Institute, Elms met the designer Brian Donnelly AKA Kaws and became his studio assistant. After he left the art school, Elms stepped into his first design job, at James Jebbia’s brand Supreme. By the mid-2000s, Elms had became recognised for his graphic design work – most famously for his reinterpretation of a Second World War-era pop culture character named Kilroy – and sculptures that explored different facets of language. He also launched his own design studio, Partners & Others, and the publishing label AndPress, which worked with clients such as Nike, Red Stripe, Uniqlo and Vans. Elms’s latest project is his clothing brand Powers, which takes its name from Powers Street, where his studio is located.

*Out now from doverstreetmarket.com, from £45

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Bootleg is Better Comedic Genius

Hailing from downtown Vancouver, Avi Friedman AKA Avi Gold is inspired by street culture not as some glitzy enterprise but an entity actually off the street. His brand Bootleg is Better reinterprets the age-old hustle of selling pirated goods for a streetwear audience with products that sit on the boarders of copyright infringement – kind of. Its latest collection Entertainment draws from iconography as diverse as the Hamburglar to a Paul Mooney Live at the Apollo poster.

Out now from goodhoodstore.com, priced £40

Raf Simons x Robert Mapplethorpe

It is true that anyone can do a T-shirt with a famous photographer’s print on it. Even Raf Simons, for the launch of his collaborative collection with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, admitted this to Vogue: “people have been doing this”. But what he also revealed is how deep into it he got to get it right. Simons actually reached out to as many of Mapplethorpe’s subjects as he could, a mixture of celebrity artists and downtown New Yorkers, to really learn about the images he was working with. And, to add quality to the prints, each one is inserted or fused onto the garment, rather than stitched on. A T-shirt from this collection would be for someone who really cares about Mapplethorpe, the wonderfully controversial New Yorker who died from HIV/AIDS in 1989.
Out now from doverstreetmarket.com, priced £280

Needles Rebuild Seven Cuts

Each season, Japanese-born New York-based brand Needles deconstructs a number of vintage garments and reconstructs them into one-off pieces of clothing. It calls this the Rebuild project. For spring/summer, the brand played with this idea for a series of rock band T-shirts. Named Seven Cuts, each garment is cut from seven vintage rock band T-shirts – including Journey, Led Zeppelin and the Police. As with the Rebuild project, no two T-shirts are the same.

Out now from goodhoodstore.com, priced £135

Uniqlo UT x Futura

Since 2014, after taking on the creative director role at Uniqlo UT, BAPE founder and all-round streetwear icon Nigo has continued to bring his friends over to the global retailers doorstep. First it was Kaws and now its Futura, who has designed a selection of tees featuring recognisable works including Point Man, Point Man’s Henchmen, and Atoms.

Out on 20 March, priced £12.90

6876 Modern Studies Tour Series

Modern Studies is more or less a sub-line of Scottish designer Kenneth Mackenzie’s brand 6876. It includes garment collaborations with artists and photographers, and focuses on the narrative. Basically each release has to have some depth to it. The line’s Tour series was created with the artist Scott King. Each T-shirt depicts either a Black Sabbath or Roxy Music tour in 1972, with the aim of showing how hectically they were organised. Rather than a band photograph or graphic, it features zig-zag graphics across a map of the UK to show each band’s schedules. The T-shirts are basically cold depictions of the reality of touring that should trigger the imagination to either reminisce or recreate the madness.

Out now from sixeightsevensix.com, priced £50