My Kingdom For a My Bloody Valentine T-Shirt
Let teenagers buy Supreme shirts! It's fine.
Courtesy of Supreme
For as long as there have been middle schoolers there have been people wearing band t-shirts without knowing much about said band. Think about being approximately 12 years old for a second. Maybe you have heard that there is a band called Joy Division. Doesn’t that sound like a cool name for a band? You hit YouTube and click the first hit “Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart [OFFICIAL VIDEO].” The video begins to play. A shaky camera makes its way up a flight of stairs and a guitar riff entrenches itself deepen within your consciousness. “Love, love will tear us apart,” sings Ian Curtis. YOU HAVE NEVER FELT SO SEEN IN YOUR WHOLE LIFE! You have just broken up with your boyfriend of two weeks and are sad. Will you ever love again? No you will not. Love will tear us apart, again. You go on the Hot Topic website and buy a Joy Division shirt. The rest is history.
This tale of being young and buying band t-shirts for bands you don’t really listen to is a tale as old as time. I firmly believe that you should be able to wear whatever you want as long as it isn't offensive, and that there is nothing more earnest in this world than being a kid and thinking band merch makes you look cool. A teenager in a band shirt is a cultural signifier. When you are 14 and are wearing a Joy Division shirt you are projecting to the world who you want to be: moody, aloof, a lover of the '80s. You can say this about most sartorial choices you make when you are forming your identity in the throes of puberty. Everything you wear is an assertion of The Self. You are learning who you are by the kinds of things you are attracted to on an aesthetic level. Getting dressed is a form of self-identification. You keep trying out new identities until you finally begin to feel the slightest bit comfortable in your own skin.
Enter the Supreme My Bloody Valentine drop. Featuring a designs from several MBV records, including Feed Me With Your Kiss and Loveless, the collection comes in the form of T-shirts, sweatshirts, button ups, and jackets. For the uninitiated, My Bloody Valentine is an Irish shoegaze band fronted by the mad genius known as Kevin Shields. The band was formed in the '80s but arguably reached their apotheosis in the early '90s with the release of Loveless. Made over the course of three years, the record involved multiple studios and over a dozen engineers to make. The record almost bankrupt their label, Creation, and became a cult classic basically the day it released. Loveless is a perfect record but it is also a difficult record to listen to, it is extremely dissonant and dense. Hearing this record is like reading Joyce for the first time or going to the Louvre without a map. In other words, it's a behemoth that you can spend your entire life listening to and still miss something. That's why it's one of those perfect records to get into as a teenager. Once you get into Loveless you feel like you’re in on the greatest secret, and then slowly you realize you’re not really alone. It’s like a right of passage for a particular kind of teen, the ones that may end up turning into adults who unironically get into listening to like, cocktail lounge music, weird kinds of metal, and club music.
Supreme’s decision to put My Bloody Valentine on clothing feels like the epitome of this need for teens to feel seen by way of band t-shirts. My Bloody Valentine is a portal of self-identification, and this Supreme drop is probably the path to that portal. It’s like level two after you buy a Joy Division shirt when you are in middle school—Athena has already ripped her body out of Zeus’ head and now she’s just vibing. The apple of knowledge has already been consumed, therefore ruining your fucking life. Fast forward ten, fifteen, or twenty years and buying a band T-shirt has different implications. It's most definitely still a form of self-identification to buy a My Bloody Valentine shirt when you are 30, but it feels like more of a way of displaying nostalgia. What I’m getting at, if you’ll entertain me, is that I bought one of these shirts and I felt extremely stupid immediately after but honestly regret nothing. It’s what my teenage self would’ve wanted! Kevin Shields changed my whole life! How does that line from "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore go again? “I'm like ‘Yo, that's fifty dollars for a T-shirt!’”