Jim’s classic, never-changing taste in clothing is no big secret, all you have to do is look at any shot of him -- whether taken when he’s 20 or 70. Boot-cut Levi’s or chinos, penny loafers or desert boots, corduroy jacket, and always, always, always a button-down dress shirt over a crew-neck t-shirt. It was pretty much a work-play uniform that he could go anywhere in, and did. I’m thinking about clothes and Jim because it’s time to announce he’s got a t-shirt line, courtesy of the folks at Medium Cool.
This licensing deal, designed to promote Jim as a brand by putting his iconic images on eco-friendly, edgy t-shirts, was in the works right before Jim died last March at which time it was put on hold. But, the t-shirt line is gaining momentum thanks to the efforts of Ken Watson and Kelly Tindel. The t-shirts are pigment dyed, made in the U.S. and feature a nice sampling of classic Jim shots from Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop ’67 sound check to John Coltrane in Berkeley in ’60 to John Lee Hooker and Waylon Jennings. Check out the full featured artist index of t-shirts here.
This venture, with its tagline: Wear a Part of History, is particularly apt because one of the earliest memories I have of Jim was of this magic chest of drawers he had in his bedroom stuffed literally beyond capacity with t-shirts he had collected from tours, shoots, bars, record labels, favorite companies and other artists he had encountered in his work and world travels. As far as I could tell, Jim never turned a free t-shirt down … unless maybe it was for gun control or prohibition or veganism! Yet, knowing Jim, he would have found those tees so hysterically ironic I bet he would have worn them proudly. I’m still kicking myself about the Rolling Stones t-shirt Jim wrestled out of that magic drawer and gave me right after we met (a white tee with the classic lips + tongue logo). If my memory serves me right, Jim said it was a backstage shirt for event staff from the ’72 tour. It was the mid-’80s and I must confess at the time I was way more into Talking Heads and U2 than the Stones. Jim didn’t really seem to care what I did with it, so I wore that thing until it practically fell off of me, even painting my loft in NYC in it at the very end. To add insult to injury, I just found a Stones ’72 tour shirt on eBay (asking $998!!) – I know, the hubris of youth, right?
Anyway, my point is simply that Jim loved him some t-shirts and now there are Egyptians wearing Johnny Cash in a crash pad near Cairo’s Tahrir Square and this new t-shirt line is being carried in some of the hipper boutiques in LA like Anonymous Clothing in Venice and Forgotten Saints on Melrose Blvd. and there’s more on the way.
Not too bad for a guy whose classic design and fashion sense didn’t change one iota his entire life, right? But, then again, Jim always did wear his emotions on his sleeve.