I Believe …

The who, what and wear of industry experts

… The simple things are the most important. Intuitive Pictures has produced a number of films about simple, everyday parts of our lives, like coffee. Such films often resonate with audiences. That’s why we were attracted to telling the story of the T-shirt.

… T-shirts represent one of the most significant shifts in the history of clothing. A hundred years ago, almost nobody in the world owned a T-shirt. Now, it’s estimated that 98% of the world population owns at least one.

… The global impact of the T-shirt is important. I hope people will walk away with the idea that the choices they make about purchasing T-shirts (and other garments) have a direct influence on peoples’ lives. So, it’s important to at least try to be aware of the origin of your shirt and think about whether it was likely to have been made in a sweatshop or in a very polluting way.

… Textile factories resemble the sets of 1960s sci-fi movies. It was fascinating to see the enormous factories where raw cotton is transformed into thread. I had never really thought about all of the processes the raw cotton has to go through before it ends up as an item of clothing.

… T-shirts can inspire passion. I was surprised by how passionate some people are about T-shirts, and the amount of money people are willing to pay for a particular shirt.

… T-shirts often take a long, strange journey before ever ending up in stores. The cheapest cotton in the world is Texas cotton, but only because it is so heavily subsidized. The cheapest place to process cotton into thread and for cut-and-sew operations is in China and other parts of Asia. So, even though there are huge cotton fields in China, it ends up being cheaper for manufacturers to buy Texas cotton, have it transported to China for processing and then back to the U.S. to be sold, which means that many T-shirts have crossed the Pacific twice before being sold.

… T-shirts are the perfect blend of edgy and safe. T-shirts have always been associated with rebellion, whether you’re talking about James Dean in the 1950s with his white T-shirt or punk musicians in the 1970s with their ripped shirts. Pop culture always strives to be a little edgy while staying safe, which is why the T-shirt has become such an icon.

… There are some outrageous T-shirts. T-shirts seem to come in and out of fashion in the haute couture fashion world, depending on the season. Hermès had a $90,000 T-shirt at one point.

… People form strong attachments to their clothes. When we started to research the documentary, we were amazed to find how so many people have personal relationships with one or two T-shirts in their wardrobe. They remind them of a life experience, a relationship (past or present), a great concert they went to or even something “naughty” they did. These are emotional tales, so we created 100tshirt.net to give people the platform to share their story and hear others’ T-shirt stories.

… A T-shirt can evoke powerful memories. My very first professional film project was a documentary called 645 Wellington, about the colorful tenants of a building who were being kicked out because of gentrification. One of the strangest, but most warm-hearted tenants had a T-shirt that said: “When I die, I hope they bury me upside down so that the world can kiss my ass.” He gave it to me as a present when filming was over. I never wear it, but every time I see it, it reminds me of that first project and the amazing people I met.