independent clothing designer Ex-Boyfriend has a huge selection of unique, quirky, fun t-shirts, hoodies, and messenger bags all designed by the company’s founder, Matt. i love looking through all of the designs; they will put a smile on your face and the face of other people when you wear one of them! check out my interview with Matt (and his awesome reason for why to buy independent).
How did you get started creating your clothing line?
Ex-Boyfriend actually started more as a vehicle for my then-girlfriend/now-wife’s crafts, ranging from pop art jewelry and buttons to stationery. At the time, I was in college studying graphic design, so we slowly began incorporating my illustrations. We then decided to move into screen printing some of my designs onto tees doing small runs, and after a while the crafts sort of fell by the wayside; they’re fun to do, but production is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
What three words would you use to describe your current collection?
Flirty. Funny. Unique.
What do you think makes your designs different?
Eeesh…this is tough. Well, I think we all know that graphic tees are pretty popular, so it’s a pretty saturated marketplace, and it’s difficult to stand out. BUT… my illustrations are 100% original. I don’t do clip art and I like to think my design concepts are a little more cerebral than most other designers. Or, if not cerebral, then at least a bit more idiosyncratic. I’m horrible about picking up on trends. While I will occasionally come up with a design that’s more topical in nature, like my new Snowpocalypse 2010 pieces, for the most part my designs are informed by things that are of greater personal importance to me, like the movies, music and artists that I love. And a lot of those touchstones aren’t defined by any one movement or era, and certainly don’t usually constitute anything recent or zeitgeist-y.
What do you see in the future for your collection?
I really don’t know. My aesthetic tastes really run the gamut, and I don’t think I could ever linger on one particular style for very long. Lately I’ve been really getting into Communist propaganda art from China and Cuba. It’s got such a cool vibe, really punchy and bold and colorful, but also really economical in terms of space and color. I’d love to do more stuff like that in the future, it’s just a matter of finding the right concepts and figuring out how to make those styles my own.
Why should people buy clothes from an independent designer over a mass-market store?
As badly as I want to hop on my soapbox about how small businesses drive our economy, let’s just leave it at this: wouldn’t you feel cooler knowing you were wearing a piece of original art that maybe a few thousand other people were wearing too, as opposed to a few million? Something designed in a moment of artistic inspiration, rather than with a conveyor belt mentality by someone who was just hopping from one t-shirt website to another to see what was popular and then duplicate it with minor alterations because some suit on the 3rd floor thought it would sell? I know I would.