T-post is the world’s first wearable magazine. Nope, it isn’t a Vogue-September-Issue-style glossy mag that has been fashioned into a Stephen-Jones-style millinery creation, but a t-shirt that poses as a magazine. It’s the brainchild of Sweden-based Peter Lundgren, and produced using an army of writers and illustrators. The concept is pretty simple – a current or topical news story is printed on the inside, and an artist or illustrator interprets the story on the outside. Previous topics have included immigration, the Nobel prize and Mickey Mouse, amongst many other things, and artists contribute from all over the world. Subscribers receive a new t-shirt every five weeks, with T-post producing its 57th issue very soon!
I had a chat with founder and editor-in-chief Peter Lundgren to find out more about T-post…
What’s the thinking behind T-post?
It all started with the idea of trying to re-wire the structures of news communication. We started concepting ways to engage people in important topics, and our favourite garment, the T-shirt, seemed like an ideal media for doing so. T-shirts inspire conversation, and when you add a story behind them, you get people thinking. By combining a news magazine subscription with a T-shirt we’re able to utilise the attention and commitment accustom to the ‘fashion world’ while communicating interesting news topics. And by putting the written story on the inside of the Tee just for the subscriber to read, the subscriber is really the one communicating the story and getting it to spread outside the T-post circle.
Since the article is not usually available while wearing the T-shirt, it really becomes their personal interpretation of the story, which is even more interesting to hear about, I think!
How did it all begin?
The idea was born back in 2004 in an advertising agency I co-owned at the time. During that year it was just a fun project that we did in between other clients. I always saw great potential in the project, but realised that I needed to focus on it 100% to get it to take off. In the beginning of 2006 I handed over the agency to my partner, so I was able to give T-post the chance it deserved. My goal was to not take on any investors along the way, even though I had lots of offers, which left me with six months to get the number of subscribers from 300 to a 1000 to still have a job.
After about two months we got a centrefold article in one of the biggest news papers in The Netherlands. After that T-post got its own life in newspapers and on the internet.
Describe T-post in 3 words.
I can do it in two: “Conversation piece”.
Where do the ideas for each ‘issue’ come from?
It can be a reflection on several news stories which have a connection or just a single interesting story that we’ve picked up in a newspaper.
How do you source and network with illustrators and contributors?
We’ve been very lucky. We always have a lot of illustrators contacting us wanting to interpret one of our stories, so we keep a constantly growing library of who we think have the most unique and interesting look.
And when it’s time to match a story with an illustrator we chose the one who we think have the most suitable look for our written story.
Can anybody contribute?
Absolutely. Just send us some examples of what you’ve done in the past and we’ll consider you for a upcoming issue.
Is it difficult running a business and maintaining creativity?
This is what I’ve always loved to do so I automatically pick up stuff which I think is interesting and could make a good issue. You have to surround yourself with talented people who can bring the best out of you and the brand. I always bring a bunch of ideas to the table some of them are good but most of them are really shitty. So it’s important to have people around you which you can try your ideas on.
How are the t-shirts produced? Are the actual t-shirts ethical?
We use American Apparel T-shirts so we’re really comfortable with them being produced ethically.
What are your thoughts on advertising?
Nobody likes advertising, yet everyone pays for it in the purchase-price of a product. Not with T-post. T-post began as an underground phenomenon amongst friends and we have grown honestly and organically. We’d like to keep it that way.
We don’t create advertising. We create dialog. We listen. We don’t believe in corporations telling people what to believe. Instead, we only believe in our family of subscribers. Our fans do the only kind of advertising we like: word-of-mouth.
Your ethos is that T-post only produces the amount of t-shirts necessary to correspond with subscriber figures, to avoid any waste. Are environmental issues important to you, and your magazine?
We just try to do what we can with the recourses we have. Which all companies should. It’s important not to use more than what is absolutely necessary for your business to work.
The first issue of T-post had a run of 5 copies – how many subscribers do you have now? Do subscriber numbers multiply on a monthly basis?
Today we have about 2,500 subscribers in over 50 countries. And it’s about 150 new subscribers signing on each month.
How will T-post develop? What does the future hold?
Right now our only goal is to make as interesting issues as we can. We’re trying to expand what we can deliver in each issue to make our message as clear as possible. One example is our Augmented Reality Issue:
Who would you like to seeing wearing an issue of T-post?
I would love to see Andy Warhol wear one, but since that’s not so likely the next best thing would be to see Jon Stewart wear one on the Daily Show!
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