Quit brand-simping, partner 🤠

Chill with the logos... Ties are dead relics of a CURSED recent past... And more SPYPLANE HOLY DECREES

Ayyyyooo FYI in this coming Thursday’s sletter we’ve got EXCLUSIVE SPY-ACCESS to a RARE STUDIO SALE from the young prince of the Bootleg Tee Game, And After That, which will benefit Frontera Fund, providing safe access to abortions/healthcare to people in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.

This will be a CLA$$IFIED subscriber ‘xclusie, so SMASH THE UPGRADE today…


Every now & then at Blackbird Spyplane we invite YOU, the “beautiful & blessed” members of SpyNation, to ask profound questions about life, love & the jawn sciences, which we SUPPLY with unbeatable answers…

Sometimes?? People ask us to weigh in on contentious topics with our UNBEATABLE SAGACIOUS TAKES, like as if our name was JUDGE SPYPLANE, smacking down the “BRAIN GAVEL” with authority.

And even though Blackbird Spyplane is a positive & kind-vibed “style & nature newsletter” (as perceptive SpyFriend Dean Kissick accurately described us in a column a few weeks ago), we ARE capable of SPICY CATEGORICAL DECLARATIONS, a.k.a….


Blackbird Spyplane is a 100% reader-supported masterpiece. Join our Cla$$ified Recon Tier today ☮️✌🏻

📜 Decree No. 1 📜

“Thoughts on ‘brand synergy’ when assessing a fit?” —@jamesrrrr

We’re basically brand-agnostic when it comes to the question of “fit synergy” — all other considerations being equal (such as fabric, fit, color, popping-ness etc.), any piece from any designer can theoretically work with any piece from any other designer.

If anything, assembling jawns by multiple designers into a fit is a great way to avoid looking like you went “straight off the rack” head to toe / a great way to avoid looking like you let a lookbook dress you

The main scenario where “brand synergy” becomes an issue, I guess, is if you’re wearing a bunch of “conflicting logos” i.e. Nike socks with New Balance sneakers with an Adidas t-shirt or something. But in that case our SPICY SPY-DECREE is that you have ensnared yrself in a lose-lose Catch-22: If all the big-a** logos you are wearing “clash” with each other, then you are wearing too many big-a** logos! And if all the big-a** logos you are wearing “synergize” … then you are wearing too many big-a** logos!

When people get invited to the Nike Company Store in Beaverton (an invitation that Blackbird Spyplane the well-connected “unbeatable recon” gods have unsurprisingly received on a couple occasions) they ask you to not wear competitors’ clothes and instead keep the s**t ALL NIKE while on the premises.

I can see adhering to a “brand synergy” policy in that context, i.e. as a matter of extremely site-specific courtesy. But if you find yrself out in these streets — or even at the d*mn gym — consciously & assiduously going “all stripes” or “all checks” in a fit and you aren’t a sponsored ”ambassador” / Run-DMC in 1986??

There’s a dangerous possibility you’re “BRAND SIMPING,” partner, and we know you’re better than that!!

📜 Decree No. 2 📜

“Any special considerations for tucking into shorts?” — @Dirtsalad

Nope, our famous Tuck All Tops philosophy (which isn’t that you MUST tuck all tops, just that you CAN TRY to tuck any top you wish) has no shorts-specific sub-clauses...

If it’s a long button-up tucked into small-inseam shorts, though, make sure the shirt tails don’t CREEP out of each leg 😜.

📜 Decree No. 3 📜

“Are graphic tees over?” — @accidentallypeeingontheseat

You can love graphic tees, like we do here at Blackbird Spyplane, and still acknowledge that we’ve absolutely hit “Peak Graphic Tee” in recent years, to the degree that virtually any vintage tee with “Y2K” energy sells for like $150 and up on Depop, and every imaginable public entity — pop stars, indie acts, politicians, legacy magazines, streetwear brands, high-fashion brands, podcasts, wine bars, restaurants, taco stands, movie studios, etc., etc., even GREAT NEWSLETTERS — seems to sling their own graphic tees these days.

First, let’s take a second to think about WHY graphic tees got hyper-popping circa 2021 … Two factors strike us as HIGHLY RELEVANT:

  1. The “democratization” of jawn-design — there is no garment with a lower barrier of entry to someone who has “a vision” and wants to get it out into the world fast ‘n’ easy. This is basically dope! You can cop a blank; slap whatever u want on it; and reap a (theoretically) high return on a (relatively) small investment — margins that make graphic tees appealing to all kinds of people, large and small, trying to make a buck. And the technology has become broadly accessible to not only design a jawn and get it produced but to put it in front of an amenable audience, too.

    1b. Relatedly, social media has made more people more conversant with “what’s popping,” and t-shirts represent an extremely easy way for jawns enthusiasts to “join the conversation,” in the sense that they’re near-universally rockable garments (even more so than baseball caps) that don’t (have to) cost very much. Which connects to —

  2. The “Instagram-ifaction” / “meme-ification” effect on fashion. We’ve lived in an increasingly cacophonous visual world for decades, and that seems truer than ever here in whatever era of the Web we’re in now. So it’s no surprise that graphic tees — the simplest way to “wear an image” — have been booming correspondingly. A robust NEURAL PATHWAY has been carved in our cortexes between the acts of “smashing the fave” on a pic <~> “smashing the RT” on a meme <~> and “smashing the cop” on an eye-catching graphic tee, in the sense that all 3 activate closely related parts of the brain and closely related ways of engaging with contemporary visual culture.

    2b. AND when you cop a tee, you can take something “virtual and infinite” (i.e. an appealing image you saw online) and transform it into something “physical and limited” (a tee) and then of course render it virtual again by rocking the tee in a fit pic, and on and on…

“Wow, Blackbird Spyplane,” you’re saying right now. “Compelling and clear-eyed analysis as always. So — are graphic tees OVER?”

Well, the category is OBJECTIVELY BLOATED… the kilotons of water and cotton (not to mention underpaid labor) required to sustain that bloat is, like so many aspects of contemporary life, NAUSEATINGLY UNTENABLE… and among Mach 3+ jawns enthusiasts who value “surprise” and “freshness,” FATIGUE LEVELS at seeing “yet another graphic tee” are correspondingly high.

But despite all that, graphic tees new and old still sing out to us, because they remain such a potent talisman / delivery system for creativity and emotion, whether that emotion’s nostalgia (in the case of, say, late-‘90s personal-computing tees); sentimentality (in the case of a collectible hunted down on eBay or a souvenir snagged on a vacation); fandom (in the case of a tee commemorating a favorite band or a favorite dope-joints newsletter); etc., etc.

In other words, PEOPLE COULD STAND TO EASE UP ON THE D*MN GRAPHIC TEES A BIT — but they are NOT OVER, because at their core, graphic tees are too effective at what they do, and contain too much potential for true excellence, even amid the bloat, to die.

📜 Decree No. 4 📜

Thoughts on sleeve prints? — @Adrianlucariowong

They’re kinda torched, but we still like them! (Especially the Stüssy x Ken Price tee I swagger-jacked from SpyFriend Small Talk Studio, which has colorful images of Price’s gloopy ceramics running down the sleeves.)

📜 Decree No. 5 📜

When are ties coming back? — @Persiangroove

We’ve written a little bit recently about “the return of tailoring” / “how to wear real clothes again,” but we haven’t grappled with the closely connected topic of NECKTIES.

Yr boy is at this historical juncture feeling highly anti-tie — I just don’t see how they connect to the present moment in a way that feels particularly relevant or interesting… When ties were last bussin’, in the mid-to-late-’00s, I copped some slappers by (blast from the past) tie-slinging kings like Band of Outsiders and Alexander Olch, but I didn’t find myself wearing them much except to weddings / events w/ non-casual dress codes, and even then I preferred to go TIE-FREE when possible: either OPEN COLLAR MODE or DAVID LYNCH MODE with the collar buttoned all the way the f**k up.

And today?? The notion of wrapping a tie around my neck is virtually inconceivable.

Partly what I’m recoiling from is the way neckties became a cursed Ob*ma-era workplace cliché among dudes who used them to render a stock uniform of blue gingham shirts, selvage jeans, desert boots, and waxed-canvas laptop bags “formal enough” for the office — dressing, in other words, to pass muster with a SWAGLESS 9-to-5 PANOPTICON dominated by the REPRESSIVE GAZE of THE BOSS-MAN !!

The pandemic, for all its ongoing horrors, contains at the very least some opportunities for questioning and re-imagining all kinds of aspects of the status quo — among them office culture, and how the workplace can suck up / regiment / restrict / and deaden not only our limited time on this planet but also our SARTORIAL FREEDOM & IMAGINATION.

I’m all for “productive constraints” when it comes to creativity, but some constraints are just WACK, and right now, the tie feels like a washed embodiment of that exact kind of regimentation & deadening.

There are exceptions. Ties obviously figure into cooler contexts, such as eternally beautiful Godard movies (duh) and pics of ‘60s-era Malcolm X, ‘70s-era Diane Keaton and ‘80s-era Jerry Seinfeld. There’s a way to commune with the spirit of these and other bygone tie-rocking FIT LORDS without looking like you are dressing up for a Halloween party, but doing so takes SKILL and INGENUITY. (If I were to rock a tie now, I might f**k around and rock a big floppy one with a QUIETLY ZANY print over, like, a chambray, on my JAY LENO / COOL HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY TEACHER S**T??)

So while I’m excited to see some swagged-out kings & queens figure out how to get off Mach 5+ fits by incorporating sick neckties — which some swagged-out kings & queens are 100% going to do — if/when ties come back as a full-fledged #menswear trend (perhaps promulgated by WEIRDOS rocking TIES ON ZOOM CALLS 😱??), I fear it will indicate that we’ve regressed to a dark / reactionary / boring place… I PRAY I AM WRONG.

P.S. Bolo ties are ill, though!

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