A Trio of NYC T-Shirt Icons
Takeaways from the Big Apple
Spending time on both sides of the Atlantic means having to think about those pieces of clothing that have staying power: what items will endure under the Darwinian category of “Survival of the fittest?” When visiting places like New York City and thinking about what to bring back, I try now to stick to nostalgia, good memories and lasting design. I was thinking the other day about how the words “New York” and sometimes “City” are often found on t-shirts no matter where you are in the world. But when I imagine the most iconic ones, these three come to mind.
I ♥ NY
Milton Glaser’s oft-imitated, commonly recognized logo, set on a white background with black typeface, embodies the heart and soul of New York City. Originally part of a 1977 advertising campaign to promote tourism in the city, this logo is everywhere to be found—most notably, worn proudly by some New Yorkers, former New Yorkers and even more so by the millions of visitors who come to the city every year. The trademark expired a few years ago and suddenly on this side of the Atlantic in Germany, it was everywhere—even sported by those who have never visited the city. Perhaps it’s one of those places so deeply engrained in our imagination since it’s repeatedly in film, music, and books. And it’s a city where everyone is from everywhere. No word yet on how many of these tees are sold per year.
New York City, made popular by John Lennon
Marc Spitz wrote this story for New York Magazine in 2010 about the photographer who cemented John Lennon’s place as an official New Yorker. In 1974, Bob Gruen took the photo on the sunny rooftop of Lennon’s 52nd Street Penthouse. Gruen advised Lennon to wear the shirt with the sleeves cut off for an added “tough” effect. Shortly after Lennon was murdered in 1980, the photo became popular and linked Lennon forever to his adopted city—he loved New York and the feeling was mutual.
New York Fucking City
Despite the great stories behind the other two t-shirts mentioned in this article, this design would seem like a joke to include it—except it’s not. This is a bold fashion statement: big, rude, unapologetic, slightly offensive (sorry, not sorry). These qualities may or may not apply to all New Yorkers in general, but no matter how you look at it, the shirt has attitude. And if you can wear it there, you can wear it anywhere. -sc