This past weekend, New York's Shirt, the creative behind these "100% Fake Real" hoodies and tees, set up shop at MX Gallery on Canal Street in Manhattan for one day only. While to the naked eye the display might look like your run of the mill one-day pop-up, the event was anything besides that.
The reason being? He received a cease and desist for his design just a few months ago so everything about the event was top secret, including which products would actually be up for sale.
We first heard about it when Shirt contacted us direct but the majority of people that showed up found out about the pop-up through his Instagram account, which served as both a way to advertise the event, as well as way to vet potential guests.
After stopping by to check out the offerings for ourselves, we asked Shirt a few questions to learn more about this project, as well as what else he has going on. See what he had to say below.
Introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
I go by Shirt. I'm this kid who grew up in New York wanting to be something. I watched and read and listened and kept my eyes open soaking everything good up. I make rap music and art things and think a lot about how to contribute. I never wanna be involved with anything bullshit.
When did you first start creating pieces with both the Nike and adidas logos on them?
It's funny cause I'm gonna answer these questions truthfully and you're still gonna have dummies in the comments coming up with their own explanations on "why this why that?"
It was September 2015. I don't actually remember what gave me the idea to do it but I remember thinking I didn't think it'd been done before. Everyone has parodied the logos with their own takes, own words, flipping the Nike check or whatever. But I never saw the two logos just left alone, clean right next to each other. I made one and thought it was gorgeous.
How quickly did you sell the mashup pieces?
I already had it in my head that it was art, and that I'd treat it like an art project, but that it should be for sale along with some other things I make. One of the goals for worksite.info was to have an online shop with all types of artful objects I create. But still I couldn't wait for other stuff to be ready to get this specific thing in front of people. I put one up on my Instagram and sold a few the same day.
When did you receive your cease and desist letter (and from who)?
The cease and desist came at the top of April 2016. It didn't mention adidas. Only that I was making counterfeit Nike product and had to stop immediately.
How did you react? Did you respond to it?
It was scary but I don't make counterfeit Nike product. That's silly. It's clear this is an art project, that I'm an artist, and no one is trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. It's no different than Andy Warhol and his Campbell soup cans, or things Jeff Koons makes, or when Bertrand Lavier paints a Benz, or any artist appropriating any piece of culture. Either way I immediately took the buy site down and issued a statement that the project was over.
Are you trying to make a statement with the mashup or is it simply a design you like?
Everything I do makes many statements. There's never one reason alone I do anything. I said back in September when I first posted the tee that, "if this doesn't represent the tip the whole world should be on, I don't know what does." I was talking about peace and love shit. You can call it corny all you want but the truth is these brands we live by are behemoths and their competition with each other is bigger and represents more than even they can imagine.
I was walking in Harlem wearing a shirt and from across the street a guy yelled "Whoa! Nike and adidas finally came together! Wow, the world has hope!" I'll be on the train and older people will stare because I'm sure they didn't think they'd see this shit in their lifetime.
Imagine if it really happen? I mean if they really did an official collection, would the companies go under? Would the stock drop? Or would it be amazing and strike a chord heard throughout the world?
Does one logo have more of a cultural importance to you?
No, one logo does not. The companies alone are billion-dollar entities and I'm sure have made the founders' wildest dreams come true a thousand times over. There's no importance left in either logo alone. The importance happens when you put the two logos together.
How did the idea to take over a gallery space come about?
I still had a bit of stock left and offering it online was over. So there's options right? I can put a box of tees on a barge and set it out to sea. I can have a bonfire at Jones Beach. I wanted to further the idea that this is art and should be treated as such. I had a vision of a space and doing some new wood works and setting them up surrounding a couple racks of clean, pressed pieces.
You mentioned it was more like an exhibition than a pop-up shop, how so?
A pop-up shop is just that, a shop that pops up for a day or two and disappears. In that sense, sure it was that. But in a way larger and more important sense, this was specifically done in a gallery, and there were paintings on exhibit that I was still walking around with a brush and touching up in the first couple hours we were open. There were special styrofoam cups I created, there was unreleased music we were playing, I was meeting kids, having conversations, etc.
I'm a rapper and besides a few shows a year, you don't really get to see me. Let alone actually hang out or get to talk. I never left, I never disappeared. It was damn near a nine-hour performance on my behalf. So it was this thought that it'd be all these things at once.
What was the screening process like for guests?
You had to be a person with some online footprint that showed you had friends, smiled at times, etc. No egg social media accounts were allowed.
What's the idea behind the "World Peace Day" tees?
They're available from worldpeacedayshirt.com. Again, the idea is that this is way bigger than any two brands. The real brand I'm pushing here is world peace. It just is. Fly shit aside, getting bitches, getting money, vacationing with family and friends shit aside, if we're not representing being ill people, being people that care about harmony and peace between so-called enemies, and good shit, what the fuck is any of this for?
From a design perspective the globe is just beautiful. I wanted an exclusive tee at the event. I wanted to create a "Nike adidas" shirt without having to put the logos. We've also made it so $7 from every tee sold is donated to the Jacob Riis Settlement in the Queensbridge Housing Projects. It's a not-for-profit foundation that does a lot of good in communities throughout Queens especially, offering a variety of classes and programs to provide middle school girls and boys with a safe space in which their creativity and imaginations are encouraged and their ideas supported.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
I really love making clothing pieces and always have. I'll definitely continue. I mostly make rap music. Last month I premiered a record blasting it from a speaker in the back of an F150 driving throughout NY. The song "Summer Not Coming" is moving and you should see more about it shortly, I won't give this one surprise about it away.
In general, I make things. I consider myself a RAP ARTIST because I'm an artist but I feel like I speak through rap music whether that's on a beat or just in the way I live and moves I make. You can expect me to take this thing as far and wide as possible.