where are cool, artsy, non-touristy t-shirts to be found in nyc?
November 13, 2010 10:59 AM   Subscribe

please help me find 4 special snowflake t-shirts in one day in nyc

i've got 1 day, and $120, to buy 3 or 4 really great t-shirts. google overwhelms me with randomness and souvenirs, and online stores just don't work for me - with my less than ideal body type, i really need to try stuff on before i buy it, just to make sure it suits/flatters me. i live in the tropics, in a super-casual area, and good t-shirts are a) hard to find there and b) more or less my only form of self expression in dressing. so i'm determined to bring back a great new wardrobe from nyc, where i will have exactly one day to shop.

i'm looking for artsy, cool, random, unique, and/or dj oriented shirts in the $30-$40 price range. hopefully they'll be high quality, and perhaps even look like i spent a bit of bread on them, without getting all ed hardy $200 tshirt-esque. a handful of cool stores within walking distance of each other would be awesome, but i'm happy to hop on and off the subway and walk a ways between each shop if that's what it takes. any suggestions?

my gender (male) may be a factor in your recommendations, so i should probably mention it.
posted by messiahwannabe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on their current line, Uniqlo (on Broadway in SoHo) will occasionally stock really nicely designed t-shirts. (Other times, they stock a lot of terrible, crappy anime iron-on transfer t-shirts.)

There's a rather nice urban-y shop somewhere between the Sunshine Theater and Katz's, on E. Houston. I know that is vague, but it's a nice hole-in-the-wall with some pretty sweet NYC-oriented designs.

If you like comic books/geek culture, Forbidden Planet (E.13th and Broadway) has a lot of truly exclusive tees. Not just exclusive, but also available in sizes that aren't L and XL and also on nice tees rather than the polyester-cardboard blend which is what most comic book tees (AHEM GRAFFITI AHEM) come on.

Punk (and other) band tees can be found on 8th St., between 6th and 2nd ave. Obscure band (and DJ) tees used to be found at Kims, but I don't know if they still stock them. Give them a shot on 2nd Ave right off St. Mark's (what 8th St. turns into after Astor Pl. where the Cube is.)

BTW, I used to work in a retail t-shirt boutique and was totally obsessed with t-shirts for a while. Let me know if you have any more specific questions.
posted by griphus at 11:23 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, you're a speedy walker with a good sense of direction/GPS (and plan ahead a little,) you can probably hit up all ever store I just mentioned in about an hour, depending on how long you hang out in each.
posted by griphus at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2010

Reed space.
posted by history is a weapon at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2010

You want Brooklyn Industries. They do really fantastic designs, all from NYC based designers. Some shirts have good souvenir/keepsake potential - lots of Brooklyn and "downtown culture" references. Other shirts are just pretty. They also will usually have one shirt at any given time which is a tie-in for a local charity. There are several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as a discount/clearance shop in Williamsburg.

The Kim's location griphus mentions is closed. They moved to somewhere on 1st Ave in the East Village. Google and find out - you may want to call ahead and see if they still carry t-shirts; from what I understand that last remaining location is a very minimalist one. For another possibility on St. Mark's Place, try Search And Destroy. Trash & Vaudeville is also on that same block, though I'm not enough a part of punk/goth culture that I know whether they carry t-shirts and what kind/price-points/etc.

Uniqlo is OK, but in my opinion their shirts aren't any more interesting than what you would find at any comparable "fast fashion" type store wherever you already live. I love them for almost all other clothing, though, and you should definitely stop by there if you are petite and looking to buy clothes in general.

Forbidden Planet is a 15 minute stroll from the block of St. Mark's Place that is good for punk/goth subculture shopping. Which is another 15 minute stroll from the shop on Houston near the Sunshine Cinema which griphus mentions. There may be a Brooklyn Industries on the way, as well.
posted by Sara C. at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2010

Ummm, you are a guy, so replace "petite" for whatever term for "small in stature" is less offensive to dudes. But still. Uniqlo is a great place to shop for professional/grownup/"put together looking" clothes on a budget, for people who usually find that comparable clothing from major US brands hangs off them like a tent. Regardless of gender.
posted by Sara C. at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2010

Seconding Brooklyn Industries as well (which is something I seem to be doing quite a lot on AskMe in the last few months.) There's one around the St. Mark's area, on a sidestreet.

They moved to somewhere on 1st Ave in the East Village.

Yeah, their new location was the one I was referring to; I can never remember if it is on 1st and St. Mark's or 2nd.

Trash & Vaudeville is also on that same block, though I'm not enough a part of punk/goth culture that I know whether they carry t-shirts and what kind/price-points/etc.

Trash is what Hot Topic really, really wanted to be about a decade ago. Good selection of punk/goth gear at reasonable prices. I worked down the block from it in a t-shirt shop and would regularly send people over there if my shop didn't have what they wanted, because I knew Trash would.

Search and Destroy, meanwhile, is an odd bird. Really, really overpriced and with a rather odd stock. Definitely worth going in there just to check it out. Trash, on the other hand, is pretty plain/utilitarian. Really good collection of footwear, though.
posted by griphus at 1:19 PM on November 13, 2010

Response by poster: it's a bit late to come back and thank anyone but it's been a mad, mad busy 2 weeks for me. i followed several leads mentioned here and spent the day subwaying around nyc, buying 4 cool new t-shirts. mission accomplished, and thanks everyone for their suggestions :)
posted by messiahwannabe at 5:31 PM on December 3, 2010

Where'd you end up getting them?
posted by griphus at 8:34 AM on December 4, 2010

Response by poster: 2 shirts from brooklyn industries (hip, pigeon oriented, well sized) and 2 from reed space (oversized and hip-hop-y, i wear them to my djing-for-rapper gigs all the time) my 2 biggest faves are the pigeon-and-rat-hugging-in-an-illicit-cross-species-affair-against-the-brooklyn-skyline and the reed space one with ~80 rap euphemisms for money, listed in alphabetical order.
posted by messiahwannabe at 12:59 AM on April 1, 2011

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