By Priya Elan
Cool memorabilia, subcultural signifier – and now big business… Why the vintage T-shirt now gets top billing
In the new, rebooted TV version of High Fidelity, Nick Hornby’s Rob, previously played by John Cusack, is a queer woman of colour played by Zoë Kravitz. The nerdish, music snobbery of the original novel prevails; alongside jokes about Creed and soliloquies about getting rid of Michael Jackson’s entire oeuvre, vintage music T-shirts are a battleground.
A Cheap Trick tee gets ridiculed, a Miseducation of Lauryn Hill one becomes shorthand for Rob’s co-worker’s tastes and ambitions, and an accidentally destroyed vintage Joy Division T-shirt becomes a metaphor for a toxic relationship. Rob herself mixes achingly cool girl grams (cardigans, DM boots, Matrix jackets) with Wu Tang Clan and Beastie Boys (License to III era) tops. Why those bands? “They’re both awesome and represent going your own way whether it’s deemed cool or not,” says the show’s costume designer Sarah Laux.