I feel uniquely qualified to discuss the merits of a great St Patrick's Day t-shirt. Beyond my uncanny resemblance to a leprechaun (pictured above), a cool St Paddy's day tee and some Irish luck were the seeds that truly took Solid Threads to the next level.
I started my t-shirt brand over 20 years ago peddling my wears on the streets of Hoboken, NJ. Stemming from an Irish Italian lineage myself, I was literally standing at the crossroads of my ancestors as I set out to make my name in business.
Known as the Mile Square city, Hoboken is a melting pot of immigrant action rooted mainly in Italian heritage, but with a clear Irish influence as evidenced by the sheer number of authentic Irish pubs lining these cobblestone streets. The town once had more bars per square mile than any place in the country... and I spent my fair share of time at many of them.
After more than a year of street vending (and with money more than tight at this point), I happened into a conversation with what turned out to be the lead t-shirt buyer for Urban Outfitters. Unbeknownst to me, she was on the hunt for the perfect St Paddy's graphic tee to offer across their vast network of stores.
After figuring out what a look book even looked like, (as I had yet to sell any wholesale graphic tees to this point), I sent a presentation to her and waited... and waited. After several months with no response, and about ready to become a waiter to add more income, I finally got the surprising phone call saying she'd like to order 2400 pieces of my 'I'm a drinker, not a fighter' t-shirt!
After much finagling to figure out just how I would get 2400 green t-shirts printed and shipped at the right price, I delivered the order and the luck of the Irish started to roll. Remarkably this design went on to sell over 100K units during a sales run of a year and a half, along with a relaunch several years later when they brought back their best selling shirts of all time for a spell.
It was featured in The Break Up with Vince Vaughn sitting across from Jon Favreau behind the bar and graced the screen at Paddy's Pub with Charlie donning it on Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The immense success of this one St. Paddy's Tee is ultimately what propelled me into my first brick and mortar store. Here our annual limited edition St. Patrick's Day tee would bring lines out the door, and the notorious Hoboken St. Patrick's Day parade would ultimately be a party in the back and a cool green t-shirt feeding frenzy in the front.
With this experience and without further ado... I present the Top 5 attributes to attain St. Paddy's Day T-shirt Perfection.
1. Conversation Starting Humor
The gift of gab is rooted in the Irish culture, made popular most notably by the lore of the Blarney Stone, which according to legend, endows the kisser of the stone with great eloquence and skill at flattery. A good St Paddy's day tee can start a conversation on its own merit sparking comments and wry smiles of approval along it's travels. Our Irish Whiskey Helps tee is a great example of the conversation starting capacity that a cool St Paddy's Day tee contains.
2. Attention Grabbing Subtlety
A good St Paddy's day t-shirt quickly turns a phrase and presents a paradox in such a clear engaging way, that it's incisive simplicity all of sudden becomes juxtaposingly jarring. Take for example, our Irish American t-shirt, a simple change of color to the American flag and a minor makeover of the stars into shamrocks allows for a cool convergence of cultures to be offered in a subtle creative style that inevitably grabs attention.
3. The right shade of green
There are too many shades of green t-shirts to count and many of them can make you want to turn away at the sheer sight of them. Mix in the bright tones of orange and white from the Irish flag and the clash of colors of many St Patty's tees can literally hurt your eyes no matter how drunk you may be. A good St Paddy's Day tee needs to have the right heathered hue of soft green or the perfect tone of solid olive or kelly green to offer an authentic worn in style for all year comfort and wear ability. Which leads me to my final two attributes.
4. Authentic worn in style
Our St Paddy's day tees are ethically sourced in the USA and printed with eco friendly inks that merge with the fibers of the shirt to offer durable quality along with that distressed design flavor that makes it feel like you found it at an old thrift shop in Dublin.
5. All year comfort & wear ability
There's a reason why our I'm a Drinker, not a Fighter" t-shirt was one of Urban Outfitters best selling shirts of all time. It's appeal extended far beyond the scope of St Patrick's Day to become an enduring design fitting to be donned any time of the year. A good green Irish t-shirt can be a cornerstone of any t-shirt connoisseur's collection.