In the age of hypebeast culture, the thrill of chasing the “drop” can be downright exhausting; more about bragging rights and branding than anything else. T-Shirt Party, a label by London filmmaker Cieron Magat, might just be the antidote to those fashion woes. “All that expensive streetwear can be so meaningless,” says Magat. “With T-Shirt Party, it’s not just about flipping a logo. It’s about having ideas.”
First launched in 2010, TSP started as something of a DIY fashion experiment. Made on a simple heat press and inkjet printer, the affordable white T-shirts were inspired by whatever weird and wonderful internet rabbit hole Magat happened to be mining in that moment, with a new style released each week. “Memes before there were memes,” as he puts it. Much like his photography, each shirt was imbued with a uniquely British sense of style and wit—take the one plastered with an image of Tim Berners-Lee, the Englishman credited with helping create the internet—and came finished with a cheeky slogan (“in Times New Roman, because it’s the most basic font,” he says). They were deeply personal, too: one of the early tees featured Magat’s childhood crush, Lisa Bonet. That combination of humor and humanity proved highly popular. In those days before Instagram, though, word of the project spread the old-fashioned way, via Magat’s creative community. He began collaborating with London heavyweights like photographers Tyrone Lebon and Tim & Barry; Skepta and M.I.A were seen rocking the tees, too. Before long, T-Shirt Party had a cult following.
Still, Magat wasn’t in it for the fans or the fame. Initially launched under the designer pseudonym Stan Still, T-Shirt Party was originally conceived as a temporary project. It was only at the urging of longtime fans, desperate to get replacements for their threadbare tees, that Magat resurrected TSP earlier this summer after a five-year hiatus. “People are fond of T-Shirt Party because it never tried to sell anything that hard,” he says. “They’re just cheap tees with nice ideas that you can wear or lose or let fade away in the washing machine.”
Many of the best designs in Magat’s archive have been reissued—including the ode to Mr. Berners-Lee—though the new tees are just as fun and collectible. British pop culture fiends will for sure appreciate the tee made in honor of Love Island, a dating show that has become a national obsession in the U.K. There’s even a TSP political slogan tee, a love letter to Democratic Party star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, printed with her face and the words “SAVE THE WORLD.” As far as collaborators go, Magat recently partnered with art director Theo White and created a film and photo lookbook, debuting here on Vogue.com, with the insanely talented London dancers Elijah and Mica of Afro-fusion collective stillmoving. Most importantly, TSP’s return means that week after week, the photographer is able to feed his insatiable appetite for what’s new and what’s next—the next tee with the next idea for the next week—distilling the moment in his own quirky, cool way. And that’s exactly how he likes it. “Other art forms, there’s so much craft. But I love the immediacy of T-shirts,” he says. “You’re only as good as your last tee.”