The story of your life, in shirts
Don't hoard or toss clothes you love — "dopely transubstantiate" them into other forms!
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane.
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— Jonah & Erin
One of the many unbeatable things we do here is a recurring bespoke wisdom drop called “Personal Spyplane.” You, the beautiful & blessed members of Spy Nation, ask us burning questions about life, love and the jawn sciences. And we reply with the kind of profound, definitive answers you just don’t see as much as you’d like in our degraded culture these days ...
And Lo… today we’ve got a fantastic Q that will have intense relevance to (statistically speaking) 100% of Spyfriends:
“I’m trying to consolidate my s**t in preparation for a big move, and I’m reckoning with my t-shirt archive. What do you do with tees that have sentimental value, or are otherwise interesting, but that you can’t imagine wearing again? Like, I’m not gonna just toss a Daft Punk Alive 2007 tour tee. I don’t really want to sell it, but it also seems insane to keep doing what I’ve been doing and storing them all in a Rubbermaid bin and looking at them once every two years. I feel like the path forward is acceptance that tees are meant to be worn until they transition into rags for household tasks, but I am curious for feedback from Spy Nation.” — @terminal_avenue
We’ve made the case before against compulsively ridding your wardrobe of pieces whose luster has momentarily dulled, or whose style does not feel as “au courant” as it once did. Instead, we encourage going B.I.G. B.U.C.S. mode, where you put pieces you stopped wearing into “swag archival” storage rather than liquidate them outright.
This is wise not only because of the economic benefit (i.e. when your mind changes and garment x comes back in style, which tends to happen, you’ll have a piece you already own waiting for you, rather than “needing” to buy a new one) but also because, at their best, clothes are potent mementos of past versions of you. They become imbued with all kinds of slow-ripening significance that you might not appreciate today: Some clothes are deeply enmeshed in your personal history and — much like a book you loved in high school, then forgot about for a decade, only to pluck it off the shelf one day and be transported by great things in it you once loved and / or missed the first time — they’re worth keeping close by, so you can revisit and re-rock a powerful component of your own identity, baby!!
This remains very good advice. However, this Spyfriend’s question is specifically about dealing with a storage shortage and, what’s more, it’s not a question about all clothes — it’s about graphic tees in particular. And a profound graphic-tee-specific idea occurs to me off rip…
One of the aspects of the graphic tee that makes it such a powerful “jawn text” is the way it blurs the distinction not just between “a garment” and “a memento” (e.g. I went to this amazing concert and got a lasting souvenir at the merch table) but between “a garment” and “its own image.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a banger graphic tee for sale online and said, “Oh s**t that’s dope as h*ll,” only to remind myself that instead of buying it, I can satisfy that urge (or a sufficiently proximate one) by just saving a jpeg and maybe, like, forwarding it to a friend who I know will get a kick out of it, too.
Yes, there can be wonderful tactile details to a good graphic tee, like fit, weight, and softness. But a lot of the “specialness” at play derives from the fact that tees are unparalleled as a rockable image delivery technology, sort of the same way French fries are a fat delivery technology.
So my profound thinking here is: Why not apply the same “just save a .jpeg” logic to a collection of beloved tees you already own?
What if one chill Sunday morning you put on some nice chunes, find or set up a simple backdrop at the cribbo in a room with good light, and — in a chill ritual of tribute and remembrance — take good, loving, hi-res photographs of each of your tees? Then use one of those services where you upload images and they send you back a nice hardcover book full of them!
This would make it tons easier to “say goodbye” to any sentimentally charged tees that you’ve decided you don’t have the space for but would feel s**tty about tossing unceremoniously. And it would be sort of like “digitizing” a beloved-but-enormous CD collection, except instead of ending up with a bunch of charmless MP3s on a hard drive you got one beautiful 180-gram double-LP that somehow contained all that music. Amazing.
And then, having taken those photographs, and holding a book full of them in your hands, you can figure out meaningful things to do with the tees now that you’re ready to release them. For instance:
It’s intense, but I kind of love this reader’s idea of turning tees into rags, on some extremely enlightened, un-precious s**t: honoring a beloved object by using it into oblivion, and, in the process, giving it an honest and dignified death.
Sell them to a vintage shop and transform them into A) store credit that you can drop on one $$$ mega-jawn the store carries, like a beautifully weathered vintage big-E Levi’s Type 3 trucker jacket, that’s dope enough to “embody” the spirits of all those tees and takes up way less space. Then when you’re wearing the jacket you’re also kind of wearing the ghost of the tees, too!! Or opt for cash and TRANSUBSTANTIATE the tees into B) like, a great dinner with someone you love, celebrating a special occasion — and real talk, celebrating the tees.
Give particularly beautiful bangers to friends who would love them. I bet you have a bud who once did life-changing drugs at a Daft Punk concert who would cherish that Alive 2007 tee, and cherish the token of affection from you.
All of the above.
Fantastic advice top to bottom, g-d d*mn it — Blackbird Spyplane is so good at thinking philosophically yet practically about clothes !!
In 1977 Brian Eno tha musical genius heard a new NYC band called Talking Heads for the first time and thought “D*mn, they slap, it would be tight to produce them.”
And so he made a fantastic track titled “King’s Lead Hat” — an anagram for Talking Heads — in which he imagined what it might sound like if he did produce them.*
Eno of course went on to produce their greatest albums, making this song dopely premonitory — BUT I’m talking about all this right now because the track also includes a lyric that’s very harmonious with today’s sletter, and which suggests that Eno is a true jawns enthusiast:
*at least that’s the story I heard !
YOOO DO NOT SLEEP —
In this coming Thursday’s sletter we’re once again linking with the homie Mike McLachlan who crafts jawns under the name Manresa, this time to bless Spy Nation with EARLY ACCESS and a SPECIAL SPYFRIEND PRICE on his latest capsule…
First & foremost, this capsule includes 2 hotly anticipated new colorways of Manresa’s Bittner coat — a coveted IYKYK piece that was actually inspired by a defunct vintage brand that Erin came across and which we featured in the newsletter last year, for all you jawn-genealogists out there…
The Bittner — cut from super heavy washed-canvas with a satin lining, corduroy collar, ribbed cuffs, and tuff YKK snaps and zips — is sick as h*ll. Past colors have sold out promptly, and they will in all likelihood do so again.
The 2 new colors are a charcoal black and “rusty ~ coral red” (both above). There’ll also be fisherman’s sweaters; flannel button ups (above middle left); Camber logo hoodies; and a new style of JUMBO double-knee self-belt pants in gray (above bottom right) and blue.
Spyfriends will get first crack at all of them, plus a lil “homie price” code to boot.
This is an exclusive for our Cla$$ified Tier subscribers, so come on into the Spyplane Inner $anctum if you lack the credentials 😉. The early-access window will start at 11 a.m. EST / 8 a.m. PST on Thursday Feb. 2 and run till 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST, so open that day’s sletter posthaste, lovers. Manresa’s on IG here.
P🎨E🎨A🎨C🎨E🎨 — Jonah & Erin
Blackbird Spyplane takes money from NOBODY besides our beautiful & blessed readers, so we keep some of our best s**t behind the paywall — join our Cla$$ified Recon tier if you haven’t
The Global Intel Travel Chat Room is here, featuring earth-spanning GOAT-locale recommendations.
The Blackbird Spymall, full of rare gems, is here.
Our Profound Essays, Mindsets and “Unbeatably Spicy Takes” are all here.
The Master Jawn Index, featuring earth’s best Spyplane-approved things, is here.