(Reuters/Andrew Innerarity)

Kanye's gloriously overpriced T-shirt goes viral

Reddit goes crazy for West's excess


Mary Elizabeth Williams
July 16, 2013 10:14PM (UTC)

Kanye West is not exactly a man known for his simple tastes. He is instead a man who has owned an 18th-century koi fish aquarium with "a cherub-shaped gold fountain resting on a marble base" in the middle of it. Kanye West is a man who sleeps uneasily on fur pillows and drinks from goblets and crowdsources where to get a marble conference table. He lives in a diamond-studded, gilded world. So you wouldn't necessarily expect his most notable item of clothing would be a plain white T-shirt.

But when sharp-eyed Redditors noted this week his latest foray into fashion design, it was too rich to let go unremarked-upon. West's pricey clothing collaboration with APC, including a "hip hop t-shirt" of "very loose Egyptian cotton," sold out almost immediately after debuting Sunday. The shirt is a plain white tee that, if you want it badly enough, you must currently pre-order while it restocks. It costs $120. And if you can't wait for it to come back, you can get it now on eBay for $300. Plus shipping.

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What separates the Kanye shirt from, say, the average Hanes beefy? What makes it credibly "hip hop"? I guess it's the Egyptian cotton. And $115. But as one expletive-dropping amateur critic pointed out, for that kind of money, it had "better bring back Jesus" as well as "teach me French," and most significantly, "help me find Bikini Bottom."

The entire Kanye collection is ruthlessly minimalist and insanely expensive. There are "very skinny leg" jeans in a dark or light wash for $265, a short-sleeved grey hoodie for $250, and a dark blue or less dark blue long-sleeved hoodie for $280. And if you feel like stocking up, the plain T-shirt also comes in dark navy.

Kanye's collaboration with APC, a company that sells "APC Experience" CDs that "attempt to apply Dub to piano" and cotton rompers that go for $262.50 on sale, reeks of rich person out-of-touchness. But it's still less jaw-dropping than the Rick Owens shirt that sells for $412. It falls significantly short of celebrity excess reached two years ago, when the Olsen twins unveiled their $39,000 backpack. (By the way, it too promptly sold out.) However much money you think rich people can cavalierly throw away on stupid crap, think bigger. So enjoy it. Enjoy the thought that an entire collection of white T-shirts, an item so pedestrian they sell them at the gas station, has, because it costs a lot of money, sold out. Imagine how well those stark shirts would pair with a set of "outrageously colorful, uniquely artistic" Rob Kardashian socks. 

Sure, quality varies, but everybody knows there isn't a damn thing about an item of clothing generally worn for washing one's van that makes it worth spending well over a hundred dollars on. Its most distinguishing feature is the name inside its collar. But ask not what the overpriced Kanye shirt costs. Look, instead, at what it gives. Behold how it inspires the casual Reddit observer to note of the copywriting that went into selling it that, "So little to say about it they had to tell me it was cotton 3 times" and to ask, "It's a collaboration? Really? It took two whole different individuals, both probably approaching the project with their own unique outlooks, to come up with a plain white t-shirt?" Rejoice in how it causes an Internet dispute over what brand makes the best cheap shirts. An entirely unremarkable garment has, with the Internet's help, now entered the pantheon of hilariously brilliant clothing items with Wendy Davis' sneakers and the all-time classic, Three Wolf Moon. 

I'm sure it's nice, though I don't know if the Kanye shirt is an exponentially superior item of clothing to your typical Target tee. I do know I'll never cry copious, salty tears when I get pizza grease on my own shirt that was fired at me from the court during a New York Liberty game. That's why wearing a Kanye shirt and reaping all the "hip hop" credibility that no doubt comes from merely donning the said apparel will forever remain out of the reach of most of us slobs. But enjoying the hell out of it? That's for all of us.


Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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