Okay, sure, this is just a post about a T-shirt. But there are two things you should consider when it comes to this particular T-shirt from Obey. First off, the message is a good one. And second, the proceeds are going to non-profits, so this isn’t some cash-grab from the brand.
About that message, which is the focal point of the whole design, seeing as it’s the only thing on the shirt other than a small Obey logo. Basically it’s saying, “Don’t be an asshole.” But it’s saying it the long way, and focusing on all the particularly egregious elements of American terribleness that have been bubbling to the surface of society lately.
Here’s a closer look at what it says:
That’s 156 words of straight text, which is a whole lot more than you find tees most of the time. But then, right now is most assuredly not “most of the time,” at least as it pertains to the current American inclination, from some quarters, to get really worked up about the idea that all people should be treated with respect. “
“I hope that my art and clothing brand can make a difference in a relatable way for topics that have been taboo to cover in the past,” artist Shepard Fairey, the founder and creative director of Obey, explained in an email. “As I’ve said in the past, OUR America is one of equal humanity, and does not demean or discriminate. We need you to help us take back this narrative. We don’t have any one easy solution, but we do know this: We must be greater than fear, we must defend dignity, and we must protect each other.”
The shirt is available to buy now, but it’s a pre-sale, so you’ll need to wait until August 23 for it to ship. And remember, proceeds from the sale of it will be donated to non-profits, specifically 501(c)(3) organizations “helping in the aid of the families of shooting victims as well as defending the rights of those that can’t defend themselves,” according to Obey’s site. A rep explained that the company is still vetting which organizations, exactly, will be receiving donations, but decided to move quickly to get the shirt on the market due to the initial response to a women’s version. The brand’s social channels and site will be updated with that info when a decision is finalized.
Jonathan Evans is the style director of Esquire digital, focusing on fashion, grooming, accessories, and, of course, sneakers.