44 Label Group
Techno producer and Berghain resident Max Kobosil is on a mission to fuse ready-to-wear graphic T-shirts with sharp tailoring. The result? 44 Label Group. This Berlin label makes clubwear that captures the shadowy, industrial spirit of the German capital’s party scene. ‘Jede dunkle nacht’ (every dark night) reads the slogan. And with pieces emblazoned with German shepherds, skulls, and Gothic typography, the dance floor just got a little darker.
The American west might seem like an unlikely home for an internationally renowned design team. But from a shop in Provo, Utah, Actual Source is running a formidable multi-format publishing house. Not only producing innovative typography for print matter, the studio has also designed a range of crisp T-shirts. With a promiscuous approach to collaboration, head designers Davis Ngarupe, Chris Mann and JP Haynie sharpened their expertise in crafting brand identities through their Number 04 studio project. Actual Source have worked with everybody from the cult film production company A24, to household names like Nike, so whether you know it or not, you’re bound to have come across the team’s output.
Agony Inc (LA)
With graphic T-shirts blending B-movie iconography, barbed wire, tribal tattoo prints and cutesy pink lettering, Los Angeles-based Agony Inc have an antagonistically DIY attitude. Taking images of It-girls (including Britney, Lindsey, and Paris) and dashing them with bleeding greyscale eyes and upside down pink crucifixes, the brand’s pieces offset the cutesy with the grim. Think midnight movies, the Manson family, celebrity downfall, and neo-noir thrills. The perfect mixture of darkness and light for the nightmares of the present.
Another purveyor of DIY ingenuity, Bred Press is the child of visual artist Brad Rohloff. With his freakish, bold graphic T-shirt prints the visual artist, printmaker and publisher is part of a wave of American DIY artists using punk design and screenprinting to pay homage to the ephemera of pop culture. Be sure to check out his industrial-influenced collaborations with designer DJ Speedsick under the moniker Spahn Dirge, too!
Bristol-based Bokeh Versions is a cassette label releasing spaced-out textural soundscapes. And their T-shirts are a real trip. A mish-mash of tribal psychedelia and hypnosis, the label’s aesthetic perfectly channels their musical ethos. Think: filthy euphoria, bright synth-dirges and powerful rhythms. The prints’ acidic patterns mimic the mixtape madness. All designed to blow your brains out.
Disgust and abjection are prevalent themes in the underground aesthetics of 2022 – and in our plague times perhaps that’s no surprise. Using forest camouflage spewed with luminous blues and yellows, Domestic Porcelain’s pieces are stamped with striking cyberpunk motifs. Hand stitched and charmingly mismatched, the designs remind us of Jonty K. Mellmann’s recent styling work for one of our era’s true originators: FKA Twigs. The graphic T-shirt designs of Delicate Porcelain are the perfect cultural complement to pestilence.
Based in Indonesia, Domestik is making eco-conscious streetwear for skaters and music nerds alike. The label’s artist and brainchild, Ryan Ady Putra, uses bold graphics to highlight the hidden narratives of his country’s history, with one eye on the health of the planet. Combining neon-pastoral scenes and utopian slogans, the brand shares the sharp design principles found across contemporary streetwear. So what makes Domestik special? Its successful blending of original design brand merch with an ethical identity.
Not just rubbish, modern life is disgusting. And contemporary designers are squishing all of its grossest elements together. Earwig Hairplug is one such DIY designer. Combining the mycological with trippy squiggles, nauseous patterns and gender-bending cuts, the brand’s pieces define 2022’s aesthetic. Goblincore? Crowcore? Post-post-industrial? If there’s a shared style across the most cutting edge designers on our list, it’s messy; too punk for the hippies and too hippy for the punks. ‘Garbage has no gender,’ reads one slogan T-shirt. The vertigo-inducing pattern perfectly pairs with the grossed-out sentiment.
Eden Power Corp
Been festering in lockdown? Get ready to emerge from the shadows and the darkness. Canadian brand Eden Power Corp is leading the way when it comes to sustainable T-shirt design, including a giant mushroom hat. Basing its latest season on fungus, yeasts, molds and mushrooms, the brand proves that growth can occur in the strangest of places. Utilising principles taken from permaculture across all levels of their design and production process, the influence of the brand’s co-founders, Isaac Larose and Florence Provencher Proulx, is only going to increase.
Full Court Press
Inspired by iconic moments in US basketball, Full Court Press is the project of New York design king Kumasi Sadiki. Sadiki opened The Good Company streetwear store with Quinn Arneson before turning it into a successful brand in its own right. This proved an ideal training ground for making next-level sports’ influenced streetwear. With unique T-shirt designs that look like Virgil Abloh remixes of vintage Stussy, these visual celebrations of black excellence are a more than worthy match for Sadiki’s reputation.
Free the Youth
More than just a streetwear brand, Free the Youth is a collective on a mission. Operating as a creative agency and an NGO, the brand is harnessing its clothing to inspire freedom of expression and creativity among young people in Ghana. Having collaborated with Daily Paper, the project will hope to bring its forward-thinking art T-shirt designs to the rest of the world. And as the world looks toward West African fashion, Free the Youth could be at the forefront of a new cultural renaissance.
Outsider artist Leomi Sadler had a huge 2021. With highlights including a collaboration with Everpress fave Heresy London. The comic book artist is one of many DIY artists to have got their breakthrough via an idiosyncratic Insta presence. Among her messy detourned fan art and tributes to comic culture, her website contains a treasure trove of odd T-shirt designs and scrawled zines. It’s a delightful mix of old-weird and new-weird. May Sadler’s success continue into 2022!
It’s not just music that’s transforming Lagos into a global capital. Man Acquired Knowledge is one of a handful of designers making a mark on the city’s renowned street style. The brand combines a hand-stitched DIY ethos with iconoclastic irreverence. Since launching in 2017, Creative Director Mark Kotun is hoping to take the spirit of the Nigerian capital to the rest of the world. And with graphic T-shirt designs that embody everything that makes Lagos style so special, it’s surely only a matter of time.
On a mission to redefine global perspectives on Nigerian fashion, Meji Meji is another designer putting Lagos back on the map. The brand’s unique T-shirts blend cinematic graphics with sunshine pastels. The fits celebrate tight-fitting 70s inspired silhouettes. Meiji Meji’s tops are the perfect accompaniment to hip-hugging patterned flares. Still not sure what we mean? Think: what would Shaft wear if he came from Eko?
Yes, Miracle Seltzer is a company that makes canned seltzer. But their merchandise is a joyous combination of snappy and tacky. The designs cherry-pick from all-American imagery. Limited edition T-shirts combine 80s hardcore fonts with sunwashed acids and 90s beach bum graphics. And as 2022 is the year of trying new things, why shouldn’t a drinks company also moonlight as a T-shirt designer? As Andy Warhol once said: branding is anything you can get away with.
Under his Müdcom moniker, visual artist Daniel Sparkes is another designer making mycology stylish and wearable in 2022. With a style reminiscent of Philip Guston, his painting and illustration work centers on inhuman life and menacing appliances. The art T-shirt designs combine this imaginative grotesque with a more playful streetwear sensibility. These weird and monstrous images are the perfect adornment for weird and monstrous times.
Real Bad Man
Straight out of Los Angeles, Real Bad Man is taking wavy streetstyle and adding an extra dose of trippy. With a playful, cartoonish sensibility, many of the art T-shirts take inspiration from new age spirituality and psychedelia. Think: incense boxes, old graphic novels, and Woodstock. Not just zany, the label makes functional and everyday pieces, too. Perfect for a hike through the forests and mountains of the mind.
If you haven’t heard of one of last year’s biggest fashion success stories, Brighton-based Story MFG, then you might want to crawl out from under that rock. Led by husband and wife duo Saeed and Katy Al-Rubeyi, the brand is leading by example in abandoning the practises of fast fashion. Their sustainable T-shirt designs are ethically produced using vegan fabrics prints and dyes. Much more than shabby chic! The designs are carefully crafted and full of charm.
2021 was a breakout year for New York-based designer Tony Tafuro. His hand-painted T-shirts saturated with bright pastel colours, scrawled faces, and flower petals, qualify as art pieces in their own right. With forward-thinking stockists, such as Cafe Forgot, showcasing the young designer’s T-shirts and fashion pieces, it’s only a matter of time before he blows up.
Another designer championing the new Nigerian spirit, Vivendii is combining cyberpunk attitudes with Afrofuturist shapes and prints. Infusing influences from 90s video games, post-net art, and rap mixtape graphics, the brand’s T-shirts are an ode to global confusion. It’s near impossible to pin down the aesthetic coordinates of whatever era we find ourselves in. And, accordingly, Vivendii’s designs celebrate that cultural meltdown, by breaking boundaries and constant everyday remixing.