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The life cycle of a t shirt

The life cycle of a t shirt

Part one: Mid-ride, mid-shower, mid-life; take your pick. An idea pops into being.

It gets drawn on whatever comes to hand, in the sort of short hand usually used by doctors.

Part two: If it kicks around in the flotsam under the computer for long enough, and doesn’t get used for making a grocery list or a gear calculation, it gets rendered up. 

Part three: A simulation of the art is made, on a photograph of a product. From there it goes on to the website, hoping to be ordered by somebody and get out into the world.

The exceptionally lucky ones get printed in some sort of bulk, which on our planet is still a very small batch, and hung in a shop. Note I wrote ‘a shop’. Not ‘lots of shops’.

These methods of distribution make it extremely unlikely that there will be two such designs at the same location, unless you are in Rotorua, where there could be two or three.

The chances of somebody stealing your hubcaps while wearing an Nzo t shirt are almost nil: few criminals go online to order t shirts from a brand they have never heard of. Because of this, if you do spot an Nzo t shirt in the wild, you can be pretty sure the wearer is a bike rider.

Part four: Life as a t shirt! Most people will keep a fresh Nzo t shirt on rotation among their semi-sorted ensembles for at least a dozen wearings. Some will go bike riding in them, which will work almost as well as high tech synthetics, and at maybe even work on par with pricier natural fibres. This activity will hasten the progress of the shirt along its path to heirloom status.


At some point the shirt will become a thing that has more of its owner’s life story invested in it than your average item, and even though it is now misshapen and maybe perforated by misuse, it will resist any urge to be thrown in the bin.

Partners will start to comment on it, not always kindly.

Eventually, its owner will realise that an adult professional has no business wearing a t shirt with holes in it, faded to eighty percent of its original lustre, and carrying blood stains from that time it was used to make a temporary sling.

Part five: The afterlife. Cutting a t shirt up for bike cleaning purposes extends its useful life by months, if not years. You can pin the part with the print on the wall in the office, or workshop. You can use most of the remainder to mop up excess oil or buff your frame. The rib collar and reinforced shoulder seams are good things for cleaning cassettes. 


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