At the risk of sounding like an ingrate, I am left feeling pretty dramatically let down by Threadless' April Fools offerings this year. The tradition is simple and respectable... once a year, they print awesome shirts that never got the love they deserved. This is something many of us wish would happen more often, of course, but until that day, it's exciting to have something to look forward to for those of us who often love the low-scores the most.
As that goes, this round is a bit of a let-down for a couple reasons. It's easily argued that these shirts could have fit into any cycle of shirts, but for many of last year's this is also the case. The bigger crimes are these two: a run of only 5 shirts, cut dramatically from last year's (pretty successful and solid) set of 9, makes the whole event less special. Even shirt.woot, notorious for happily neglecting the best work, runs 16 underscored "editor's choice" prints a year... it's going to make a lot of people really let down. But the biggest crime, to me and probably to many, are the scores. Last year ran the gamut from 1.67 to 2.08 (with only two of the 9 breaching the 2.0 mark). This year, 80% of the prints scored above a 2.25, with one of them scoring a 2.6. Is 2.6 the new unprintable? If so, Threadless really needs to reconsider its priorities. As the industry leader in fashion tees, they have every ability to push the envelope and shape the market. It's at least mildly disappointing that when given the chance, they've erred on the side of total caution.
Which isn't to say I am not totally in love with the site for finally printing one Monsieur Pimpant, a favorite designer of mine. The owner of that disappointing 2.6 score, Pimpant's TIN TINTIN TINTINTIN TIN TIN sums up his incredibly bizarre mind just in the title. It, of course, doesn't hurt a bit that the deft and distinctive sketch that makes up the tee's design is of a literal one-man band, a character created out of accordions. The gold tee brings out plenty of pop into that sketchy world, and the simple face with the jaunty French mustache makes me, at least, feel like I've got a glimpse into the joy and creativity the designer must feel all the time. Still, much as I love this, there's that nagging question: since when is 2.6 unprintable? Didn't current Bestee winner Her Hair score a 2.66 and then win a freaking Bestee? Happy as I am to see this in print, I seriously don't see why this couldn't have found itself in an actual print rotation, while a much lower-scoring piece by the same designer could have printed now. Coupled with the small amount of prints produced today, it seems unfair to the scads of amazing, low-scored designers to pick something that scored well enough to print normally. Especially since as of last night, exactly 2 shirts still existed from last year's round (that would be two shirts total, not two designs... everything else sold out within the year, with most of the content gone or decimated by the end of the summer sale). With those sort of stats, and some severely well-scored designs showing surprisingly low sales since printing, I feel as though we deserve better from the site that made internet t-sales hip.
Either way, though, if last year was any indication, you'll want to snag your shirts quickly, especially since Threadless doesn't seem to have that much confidence in them (judging by the largest and smallest sizes, I'd say these tees are printing at about half the normal stock quantities). Because when it all comes down to it, any underscored prints are better than none.