2004-12-10 04:34:51 UTC
writes Sashka Koloff.
At the massive rock festival Homebake last weekend in Sydney, one young woman
with dyed black hair wore a tight tank top with “The Ramones” emblazoned in
hot pink across the front.
Quizzed about the band on her top, Neige Koppes, 22, couldn’t name a single
song by them. She doesn’t own any of their music. Her sister bought the top
from a trendy boutique because she thought it looked cool.
As the summer music festival season gets into full swing, this will be a
Band T-shirts are essential fashion accessories now, and it doesn’t seem to
matter if you know the band or not.
Rock music has clearly moved from the charts to the catwalks and shop racks.
Not so long ago, band T-shirts were only available at specialist music stores
and exclusively worn by die-hard fans. Invariably, they came in black and a
men’s size XL.
Now, the band T-shirt has been reworked into tight little tees and tank tops
that come in all colours: pink, yellow, white. Chartreuse.
What is curious though, is that bands on shirts are more likely to have been
inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, than currently topping the
The Ramones are a case in point. They started playing the dive bars of New York
in the mid 1970s and soon became underground punk rock heroes.
But, they didn’t sell many records and never had much commercial success.
Relegated to the fringes of rock, the Ramones toured relentlessly until they
finally broke up in 1996.
With three quarters of the original members now dead, it’s a cruel irony that
the Ramones are more popular now than they ever were when they were together.
It’s not their sound people are interested in though: it’s their image. The
Ramones, along with other hard rock bands of the era including AC/DC and Led
Zepplin, are suddenly hot fashion properties.
Arturo Vega has been the Ramones’ creative director since the band got
together. He designed the group’s crest, an eagle logo modelled on the US
Vega manages the group’s licensing deals from his loft in lower Manhattan,
and says rock’n’roll has become a fashion prop: “Fashion has always been
an important part of youth culture, but it’s unfortunate that the people
buying the shirt don’t know the band. It’s sad for the Ramones.”
Vega gets up to 10 requests to license the Ramones’ image every week. This
year, he’s licensed pillowcases, shot glasses and shoes.
But there are certain items he has refused to put the band’s name to: pet
clothes, cowboy hats and a line of couture jeans among them.
“The Ramones wore normal jeans, not those designer ones. It just wouldn’t
be right,” says Vega.
"Women and cats will do as they please, and men
and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."