Monthly Archives: April 2014

Class T-Shirts, Relatedness, and the Key to Happiness

cap-and-gownIt is class t-shirt season again. Thousands of high school seniors will dress alike (gasp!) for the last several days of school. The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education predicts that there will be about 3.3 million high school graduates this year. That’s a lot of t-shirts! And a lot of happy people.

Who besides a t-shirt company or a high school student might equate a class t-shirt with happiness? Psychology Today, of course! While the noted psychological journal does not completely connect the dots between t-shirts and happiness, it does point out the relationship between consumer choices, a person’s psychological needs, and their degree of happiness.

Dr. Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D. writes: Based on one of the most prominent theories of motivation and well-being, Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2000), researchers have begun exploring the types of consumer choices that will satisfy a person’s psychological needs. SDT predicts that a person will be happiest when three basic psychological needs are satisfied: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. A person feels autonomous when his or her actions are freely chosen, self-guided, and internally (as opposed to externally) motivated. A person feels competence when they use their talents and abilities to master a skill or learn a new task. A person feels relatedness and connected to other people when their activities develop supportive relationships and when a person feels understood by others. (

The class t-shirt satisfies all three of a graduating senior’s basic psychological needs…sort of. Let’s look at each of the basic needs a little closer:

  • Autonomy: “A person feels autonomous when his or her actions are freely chosen, self-guided, and internally (as opposed to externally) motivated.” The class t-shirt could go either way. The t-shirt still has a little bit of its 1960’s devil-may-care, rebel caché, especially at school. But since all the other seniors will probably don the class shirt, there are some external forces ta play here. It’s a toss up.
  • Competence: “A person feels competence when they use their talents and abilities to master a skill or learn a new task.” Competence is the corner stone of high school graduation. The talents and abilities of each graduate are tested. The class shirt signifies mastery.
  • Relatedness: “A person feels relatedness and connected to other people when their activities develop supportive relationships and when a person feels understood by others.” There are few things in a the average person’s life that feel more connected that the graduating class (in high school or college). Sharing the experience with peers amplifies its poignancy. This sense of belonging and camaraderie can be hard to come by later in life.

OK. A class t-shirt might not be the answer to the world’s most pressing question, but it will bring your thoughts (and maybe even your heart) back to an important time in your life. How many of you still have the tassel from your mortar board? You probably still have your class shirt, too. Break it out this weekend and put it on. It might just bring a smile to your face.




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T-shirts are Old School Social Media

Social media is where we make our voices heard these days. It’s where we announce our allegiances and our band’s tour dates. It’s where we show our pride and bring detractors over to our side. We rally, we rage and we regale on social media. Whether we inspire hope or provoke anger, this is where we create the content that changes the way people think.

comfort_colors_teeT-shirts are really the old school version of this dialogue. T-shirts are the way we get the message across. From fan memorabilia (The Dark Side of the Moon World Tour 1972) to family unity (The Camisa Family Reunion 2008), our T-shirts give us the opportunity to wear our heart on our sleeve.  Don your t-shirt and magically become the visual manifestation of your ideology: “Boston Strong,” “Semper Fidelis,” “I ❤ NY.” Whatever your cause, your shirt is your rallying cry. It is not quite as instantaneous as Twitter, but it is potentially more enduring, and definitely more comfortable.

A California man recently explored the limits of the t-shirt-as-social-media genre and wore a unique band t-shirt each day for 1,000 days. He calls himself a Band T-shirt Activist. “In an interview with a T-shirt company in 2013, he said: ‘T-shirts are like an analog version of social media and social networking. It’s amazing how I can wear a certain t-shirt out and immediately connect with people I’ve never met before. A band shirt alone can initiate new conversations and new friendships.’ ” (

For us, a T-shirt company, the medium is the message. When the message brings people together and creates new friendships, we are a willing messenger.



Easter, Passover, and the Oldest Comfort in the World

The Spring holidays have got us thinking about family and remembrance. While neither Easter no Passover is a big T-shirt holiday, both are about bringing us back into the fold. At their core, they are both colorful celebrations of renewal, celebrations of life and celebrations of spring.

In both traditions, the egg has symbolic importance. In many traditions the egg symbolizes rebirth and hope – the essence of Spring. Its symbolism at Passover and Easter is a bit more involved.

brown_eggsAt Passover:
The Roasted Egg (Beitzah) is symbolic of the festival sacrifice made in biblical times. On Passover, an additional sacrifice (the Paschal lamb) was offered as well. The egg is also a traditional symbol of mourning, and has been interpreted by some as a symbolic mourning for the loss of the Temple. Since the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 C.E., neither the festival sacrifice nor the special passover sacrifice could be offered. It is also a symbol of spring – the season in which Passover is always celebrated. In many households, it is customary to use a brown egg on the seder plate. The egg should be baked or roasted if possible.

colorful_easter_eggsAt Easter:
The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration. (

Whether your eggs are boiled and painted or roasted and brown as you celebrate this spring, we wish you comfort and peace this holiday. Happy Passover. Happy Easter.

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Kids T-shirt Designs and Great Hand-Me-Down Clothes

Shark-T-BeachworksBunny-tshirts-KademiKitty-T-shirt-EatMoreKaleAnyone with older siblings can tell you what it’s like to wear hand-me-down clothes. Some clothes we cherished (team jersey), some we yearned to wear before our time (big cowboy boots, that coveted fringed leather jacket). Other hand-me-downs embarrassed us in front of our friends at school (that ugly Christmas sweater).

T-shirts are always a favorite hand-me-down.

The most important elements of a great hand-me-down T-shirt are quality fabric, good construction, and timelessness. The kids wearing the hand-me-downs don’t necessarily notice these characteristics. Instead what they see is the design.

What makes a great Kids’ T-shirt design? Our customers and Facebook friends posted some terrific examples of kids Ts this week.

This kitty T was designed in Vermont by the Eat-More-Kale-Guy’s daughter. The Shark T comes from Beachworks in Florida. The bunnies are from Kademi in Mississippi.














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