Worn and Torn Feb 22nd, 2007

I have thought a lot about this subject, and it seems to have no end. We have all seen the t-shirt trend over the last couple of years that makes it seem as though everyone needs a new wardrobe. Whether it be the logo on the front of the shirt or some design placed only in the bottom corner, we find ourselves with a line of clothing that comes across as hand me downs.

Old BuildingThis idea is not new to the eye. Many buildings and rundown areas have murals and paintings that appear this way. Also, if you have a piece of clothing that you still wear from when you were ten, then you find yourself looking at this ragged piece of clothing as in style. You can even make claims to have an authentic piece of sports apparel, though now people would really question if you just bought it or if it truly was that 1980’s shirt from when the Tigers won the world series.

Worn and Torn Shirt from Old NavyThis design trend is not just in clothing. I have seen it on ESPN and even in magazine ads. While it seems to have impacted the T-shirt industry the hardest, it is a great solution for anything current. I call it the worn and torn look. There comes to mind one question about this. Why does it float? Why are people grabbing on to a look that is old and rugged when we are in a society craving for fresh and new? Is it simply a interesting look that was normally only achieved through years of use, or are we attracted to it for different reasons?

As A graphic designer, I say there is more. We are not buying into this look simply because it is ‘new’ and trendy. There is something about the design of these T-shirts thatWorn face from the 50's does not fit the style. If we do see something that is worn and torn in a true sense, it still has the design of the past. It contains old style typefaces and rockwell-like drawings. That t-shirt or those pants still let you know, whether by the material or by the stitching, that it is, in fact, an old article of clothing. Let’s look at the design of these new looks.

Will the visual appeal tells us that this is genuine, old, and used, the elements of the design are fresh and new. These shirts and posters contain new trendy colors. You see greens and blues and yellows that you would have never seen in clothing 20 years ago. In print ads we get the feeling that the design is fresh and new while looking old. Really, we are getting fooled. We are being told that this product has been around forever. ‘Since 1874’ or something like that. What we are seeing in the actual design, however, is imagery that has been put together for today’s design savvy audience.

This is a great solution for a company that actually has been around for a long time. What better way to show an audience that you have been around for a century than by reprinting the original logo of the company reprinted. This also works for the company that has just started. Through a rugged design, everyone is thinking that they have seen your logo before and that you are in fact trust worthy and secure, when in fact, you may be begging for their sale.

I like worn and torn. I like the feeling of that what I’m purchasing is genuine and well thought out. I think I am going to go have some coca-cola and relish in the fact that my father’s father drank the same drink that I am having now.