The Bieber T-shirt vs the 3030 Long Line’s Hip Hop Heritage
The Justin Bieber T-shirt
If the hype around the new Justin Bieber t-shirt line is to be ‘beliebed,’ then “classics never die.” This something we know to be true at Spectra as well, it is a truism which defines many of our styles and remains one of the reasons the SpectraTees lineup remains a consistent favorite year in and out. A fact also well understood by Karla Welch, the famous stylist to Justin Bieber who recently launched her own line xKarla by re-imagining the classic Hanes’ white tee. This much vaunted new design was originally requisitioned by Da Bieber himself and, as Welch couldn’t find any in the stores, she ended up buying oversized Hanes inventory items and stitching them together from a pattern of her own design. To the sheer know-how and make-do of this young up-and-coming stylist we offer a truly respectful hat-tip and nod–you go girl. We trust the xKarla label will grow from strength to strength with Karla Welch’s imaginative and trendy designs behind it.
The backstory behind the so-called “Bieber t-shirt” or “bee-tee,” has Bieber asking Welch to look around for the classic baggy white t-shirt which defined so much of hip hop culture in the early 2000’s but which had all but disappeared from the shelves as the tides of fashion have moved on. Some of Bieber’s principal musical influences have been drawn from the likes of Boyz II Men, Usher and even Timberlake. all with strong links to RnB and Hip-Hop stylings. Little wonder then that, when The Beeb was looking for a classic fashion icon which spoke to him and his musical influences, he asked the talented Welch to re-invent a hip-hop classic like the baggy white tee and calling it the new Justin Bieber T-shirt.
The white t-shirt is a fashion icon with every social movement ‘owing’ it and making it their own, from the rockers of the 1960s to the hippity-hoppers of the 1990s and 2000s, the white tee is a wardrobe staple and fashion icon the world over. We know this, you know this and Justin Bieber knows this to be true.
The smarts behind Karla Welch’s Justin Bieber T-shirt is not the white t-shirt itself, but the “re-invention” part. After all, an icon is hard to change which makes The Bieber T-shirt a successful and trendy garment in its own right. But, as every stylist knows, the trends will come and go, but the classics will always remain just that–classics. Which is why the legendary hip hop lines of the oh-so-street Spectra 3030 “long line” t-shirt are still so relevant and persistent today. This is a shirt which was conceived at the ascendancy of hip hop at a time when a handful of fashion trends were clamoring for top spot in the exploding sub-culture and the question of what would stay and what would go had not yet been answered. Enter the SpectraTees 3030 Long Line t-shirt with classic scalloped hemlines which descend at the front and the back and are raised at the pockets to offer a beautiful sinusoidal curve to the whole aesthetic. The shirt just screams “street fashion” and has always been something of a sleeper hit in the Spectra lineup. The 3030 is a closet classic for anyone with an ounce of street culture in them and, more to the point, the endless tides of fashion will never touch it. The scalloped long line has earned its chops and it’s here to stay.
Choosing a t-shirt is tough these days and, as Welch explains, even Bieber had problems, “He was really picky about fabric–loved this, didn’t like that…” A problem we’re familiar with, which is how we first came up with the design for the hip hop classic t-shirt, the 3030 long line. It had to come from the street first and foremost, any styling detail, any influence, had to be honest and true to these roots. After this it had to stay street–not fashion–so it needed to endure and evolve, like street culture. So, basically, you could wash it a thousand times and it would still keep its great shape and start to feel like your favorite pair of jeans–you know, like an old friend. Finally, it had to be comfortable, it had to be built out of the best fabric we could find. For a lot of people–especially on the streets in California–your t-shirt is your uniform; so if you are going to wear something all day, it better be that good. Which is why we use a 30 singles combed cotton knit for it (our proprietary Spectra Combed and SpectraSpun fabric). It’s the same fabric we use for our 3100 Cotton perfection shirt. Basically, it’s like wearing a cloud all day, it’s a beautiful thing.
But why the extreme softness, this commitment to comfort? Other men’s street-wear tees get by just fine with 18 or 20 singles without combing the cotton for that soft, rich ultra-fluffy finish. It’s something that one of the designers here at Spectra said during the initial design meetings which, to most of us with a background and education in street culture, instantly recognized. She said that it made sense that it needed to have street roots and had to wear well, but did it have to be a bristly, uncombed commando-beast, because you’re going to borrow your boyfriend’s t-shirt and that coarse raw cotton chaffing thing just isn’t going to work!
And there you have it, with a big dollop of respect and gratitude to the ladies for their guiding hand on this one. This is why the 3030 is pure street, pure hip hop heritage and pure comfort. Just like xKarla for The Beeb, our ladies guided us to a more refined, hip hop classic, where Spectra’s street influence is obvious, and that smooth, clean Spectra Combed cotton creates a supremely softer t-shirt for when you (or even The Beeb) might have a guest or two staying over. Which is why the 3030 unisex Long line T-shirt is still so appealing after all this years and immune to the changes in fashion.
One more thing: As anyone resident of California can tell you, white is a great color for a new t-shirt but not always the most forgiving color for a gritty city like the City of Angels, where black is the reigning heavyweight champion of choice. As lovers and livers of Californian sub-cultures we know about the this steamy love affair that the coastal cities have with the black tee and, it’s seldom acknowledged sibling–the heather grey athletic knit. Which is why Spectra produces its 3030 Long line t-shirt in each of these staple colors for you and your streets, whatever city you may find yourself in across this hip hop nation.