Ben Gilman

Unravelling the t-shirt Hipstery

I’m a big wearer of t-shirts - and arguably a wearer of big t-shirts. Occasionally I suspect that I should be moving onto shirts with buttons but that feeling usually passes.

A few months back I was tweeting about the fact that I’d won a MailChimp t-shirt in their online draw. At that moment a mysterious Twitter account named @hipstery started following me. A few clicks later and I was concluding their checkout process. Don’t talk too loudly about it, but Twitter marketing works.

The concept

In a nutshell, The Hipstery “liberates you from the burden of choice” - specifically, you tell them your t-shirt size, fill in a fancy-dan quiz about your tastes and their t-shirt scientists go find you a t-shirt and dispatch it to your door. The t-shirts are sourced from various cool designers and are usually from rare, limited edition runs.

The delivery

A couple of weeks later (The Hipstery are in Germany and the UK post were probably on strike) a mysterious brown paper bag dropped through my door. In fact, it didn’t drop through my door at all. Instead, a red “sorry you were out and we can’t stuff a t-shirt through your letterbox” card arrived and I had to take a trip to the Royal Mail depot to collect it. So eventually, this is what I received…

The mystery is slightly compromised by the fact that the envelope is carrying The Hipstery’s branding but it was the start of ‘the experience’  - not something you usually get when buying things online.

The grand opening

Using the time-honoured combination of my fingers and opposable thumbs I tore open the package to reveal the goodness inside.

As promised, the primary part of the delivery was the mystery t-shirt - on arrival it was wrapped in a natty plastic bag that is missing from this picture.

The cotton goodness

So, what of the t-shirt itself? What had the t-shirt scientists selected for me? In an attractive shade of grey, my selection was the runner-up of the 2006 London Design Festival’s t-shirt design competition, The Draw - “London Spirit” by Blaise Coutaz. You can read an interview with its designer over here (warning, that link is a PDF, abandon all hope ye who click). The t-shirt is cool and unlike something I might have chosen for myself - all good things.

Here’s a poorly-montaged close-up of the design.

As well as the t-shirt there were two old postcards…

Unexpected but standard enough? Except for the strange coincidence that at the time of the delivery I was wading my way through Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, in which the main protagonists reside in Windsor Castle, the subject of one of the enclosed postcards.

The conclusion

The Hipstery is an excellent way to acquire a t-shirt, I will shop there again. Go forth to, buy yourself a new t-shirt, feel the burden of choice lifted from your shoulders. Many thanks German friends.

EDIT (May 2014): Pah, they don’t do it anymore. Something about the fact that it doesn’t make any money, pesky money.

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