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Hey, look, teens of America: You can buy a kewl Minor Threat T-shirt for $28 at Urban Outfitters.
Hear something? That’s the sound of a 45-year-old punk rocker punching a wall.
But wait just a second before you start groping for the lever on the ol’ outrage machine. Turns out the T-shirt is not a bootleg like that Forever 21 design from 2009; it’s licensed through Tsurt, a California-based company that Ian MacKaye and Co. hired to produce and oversee sales of the band’s official shirts.
“Dischord doesn’t make T-shirts,” MacKaye clarifies in a phone call. But Minor Threat is another story. Because so many bootlegged Minor Threat shirts are constantly floating around the universe, MacKaye decided the band had to do something about it. The solution: Get another company to oversee their official shirts, and when a bootleg crops up, let them deal with it. “It’s fucking absurd the amount of bootlegs are out there,” MacKaye says, and “my time is better spent doing other things.”
“It’s not a political thing for me,” MacKaye says. “I just don’t give a fuck about T-shirts.” At some point, the former Minor Threat frontman said to the band, “This is crazy. I spend so much of my time” chasing down bootleggers. He found that when he contacted the responsible parties about their bootlegs, they just gave him hell. “They get in your face… or they deny it,” he says. “It’s a complete waste of time.”
Just because the shirt is licensed doesn’t mean MacKaye approves of the sweatshoppy clothing chain selling his band’s shirts, though. “Do I think it’s absurd? Yes, I certainly do,” he says. He also thinks the asking price is ridiculous, but he’s more or less resigned to it. “Motherfuckers pay $28, that’s what they wanna pay for their shirts.”
He compares the pricey T-shirts to people happily blowing their money on expensive shoes. Why do they do it? “I guess it makes their feet feel fuckin’ rich,” he says.
Minor Threat is not the only D.C. punk band whose shirts are now for sale at Urban Outfitters. A Bad Brains shirt is on the website, too—-also for $28.
Screenshot from Urban Outfitters’ website