The Wearable Blog: Introducing Collective Tee

nerd2One Sunday in March, I was walking through a little market in Fitzroy and saw a table full of unusual T-shirts. On the fronts were some cool designs, and on the back of each was… a blog post.

Fascinated, I spoke to stallkeeper Jason Scully, one of the creative people behind the idea of taking blogs out of the the digital space and putting them onto the backs of readers in the walking world.

Jason has kindly answered a whole bunch of questions about this fascinating concept in writing.

Tell me about Collective Tee

Collective Tee is a Melbourne based street-wear brand that is redefining the humble T-shirt.  We are a social experiment,  creating a unique garment that changes the way people connect with those around them using the ubiquitous T-shirt.  We start with a story.  An engaging story that we hope people will want to share time and time again.  We then take the story to one of our many designers. The chosen designer then interprets that story and that design becomes the front of the t-shirt.  We also print the story on the inside of the t-shirt so that there is a story literally behind every Collective Tee.

How did you get the idea for a wearable blog? Was it cumulative or did you have a big lightbulb moment?

I was walking down the street one day wearing a t-shirt with Bruce Lee on it.  I was stopped by a guy who asked, “Hey, did you know that it was Bruce Lee’s birthday yesterday?”.  All I could say in response was, “Erm – no but thanks”.  That made me wish that I knew more about the design behind my t-shirt.  I wish I knew more about who the designer was and what did the design mean.  I wish I had more to say to that random Bruce Lee fan on the street.  That was how I decided to print a T-shirt which has a story literally behind each T-shirt.   Hence Collective Tee was born.

issue-4-slide2How do you expect the T-shirts to work out in the world? Will people sit still while friends read their backs, for example?

The aim is that people will only talk about the story when other people ask about their T-shirt.  It is about starting a dialogue or conversion that will usually start with the words “Hey, Nice T-shirt”.

We like that only the person wearing the Collective Tee knows the story so that they can decide how they share the story.  They can make the story their own and inject their own personality or spin on the story.   Also, we have had some people come up to us and say that the inside looks so cool they would be happy to wear the t-shirts inside out.  I told them – go for it!!

What criteria do you have for blog topics?

Our blog posts or stories have to satisfy three simple criteria:

  1. Firstly, they have to be entertaining.  For example, the stories can be funny or thought provoking.
  2. They have to be engaging.  People must want to tell them over and over again; and
  3. Lastly, we have to be able to visualise the story as an awesome t-shirt.

This simple criteria so far has led to us producing some truly unique t-shirt designs.

Who does the art for the shirts? How did they get involved in the project?

A different designer designs each Collective Tee.  Our designers are located in all parts of the world.  Designers in the UK, Indonesia, Italy and Malaysia have designed our first few issues.  We choose the designers based on their past designs and on whether we think that the story will resonate with them.  We like that a different designer designs each issue as this gives our designs a wealth of different styles and viewpoints.  However, each Collective Tee is produced right here in Melbourne so that we can support local business.

We are always looking for new designers and are more than happy for designers to contact us.  When we have a story or blog post that is suitable for that designer we will generally contact the designer to see if they are interested.

What do you see as the ultimate goal of the project?

Here at Collective Tee head office we have noticed the growing trend for social interactions to only happen online through social media.  We want to reverse this and return social interaction to the streets, bars and bus-stops of the world.  We feel that Collective Tee is helping achieve this each time the person wearing a Collective Tee shares the story behind their Collective Tee.

We would love to have a collection of Collective Tee stories.  We would love it if everyone who has bought or received a Collective Tee as a gift would send through their own Collective Tee story. We want to hear about the people they have met and the conversations they have had because of their Collective Tee.  I would like Collective Tee to actually make a difference in the lives of the people who wear Collective Tee.