WHITE

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A while ago I was involved in some pitch for a book about the history and cultural relevance of the white tee. During some initial research, and labouring under the misapprehension that no book had ever been written solely on the topic, I found that not only did The White T by Alice Harris preempt our plan by 15 years, but I’d bought a copy on the cheap and forgot it ever existed. The moral of the story? Google harder before you get that presentation underway. Published in 1996, Harris’s book is decent, with some good archive imagery from the garment’s military issue early days all the way up to the 1990s, plenty of celebrity sightings and its place in gay and straight subcultures. The whole tabula rasa nature of white cotton shirts means there’s plenty of space to explore, but on its heavily stylised pages, The White T covers the key topics. With some proceeds going to GMHC and an intro by Giorgio Armani, who professes to be a white tee fanatic, this was a well publicised release in its day. I still managed to blank its existence from my mind. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time. you’ll know about my respect for the mass-produced, non-nostalgia of the Costco Kirkland six-pack — between this book, some Japanese publications from the Lightning team and that time Dem Franchise Boyz reviewed tall tees for Vibe long before hemlines got wild, that’s as much a primer as you’ll need. The world doesn’t need another effort on the shelves.

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