そういった想いをブログを見た香港の雑誌「Milk X」の編集者がすくい上げてくれてインタビューを受けることになりました。issue:169 Sept. 2020号で掲載されていますが、今回はその元ネタであるインタビューを全文掲載したいと思います。
Milk X magazine Hong Kong September #169 Issue.
Thank you to spend the time with MILK X.
MILK: Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
ME: Hello readers. My name is Masahito Homma, I live in Niigata, Japan and run a small, online EC shop for custom-ordered “MADE IN USA” T-shirts.
MILK: How long have you been collecting t-shirts?
ME: Actually, I didn’t originally intend to collect T-shirts, I just wanted to wear them, but you know, now I’ve got hundreds of T-shirts in my closet from the 1990’s.
MILK: What makes you to collect t-shirt but not other clothing? Any behind story?
ME: Simply because T-shirts are part of my closet, and necessary for daily life. That’s all.
My lifestyle doesn’t need white shirts, neckties, suits, or shiny Alden shoes. If I were a businessman, I would have collected classic shoes like Alden, Church’s, John Lobb, etc.
However, one thing I would like to say is that, as a teenager, I noticed that although various American brand T-shirts were very different, they were all in good taste and they all felt better than any sportswear T-shirts like Adidas, Puma, Asics, etc., and so the journey began.
In the early 1980’s in Japan, a lot of American casual wear was imported for fashion-conscious youngsters with American culture. Levi’s, Nike, New Balance, etc. At the time, I remember the culture media said “The 3 biggest American T-shirt companies were Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Health Knit.” My first American T-shirts were Hanes 3-pack (a.k.a. Red Label – means 100% cotton) in 1981, and they stole my heart! I had never experienced such a soft feeling, not top quality but good for daily use. You know American products are basically really practical.
The price was not too high for teenagers even though they were made in the U.S.A. I was astonished at how great American products were!
At that time I loved Hanes T-shirts mainly, but nowadays I’m not so keen on them.
I mean, I do like originals – American ones should be American-made, British bone-china teacups should be made in Britain, Italian leather bags should be crafted in Italy. I’m not talking about the quality, but about the identity and the styles.
And I do love music. Buying merchandise T-shirts is another convenient way to support my favourite musicians & record labels. Especially tour merchandise T-shirts tend to be collectable and memorable. That’s why there are so many of them still here.
MILK: Which brand and which year of t-shirt you think is the most comfortable to wear?
ME: I can’t tell you which the most comfy T-shirt is, but in my opinion, the one which impressed me the most was the 1993-95 Hanes Beefy-T which had The Slanting HANES BEEFY-T logo on the tag and the early 2000’s American Apparel’s 50/50 Ringer T-shirts.
Both are “MADE IN USA” period products, and the length of the shirts is bit shorter than other eras and really fit me – height 175cm.
The late 1990’s Hanes shirts are bigger and wider than mid 1990’s, even the same size, because they changed the place of origin (they moved to Jamaica, Mexico, and Haiti) and changed the way it was sewn. That was so sad to me. I still love the classic looks, old school specified T-shirts with a simple neck rib, tubular, about 5~6oz fabric, and “Made in USA”. These characteristics are what most American T-shirts lost in the late 1990’s.
Still in tears about it in 2002, I got one American Apparel combed ringer T-shirt on eBay (American Apparels were not available in Japan at the time). I didn’t like any cotton-polyester combed T-shirts due to their lint balls, but this American Apparel one was different from others. It kept its softness and didn’t have many lint balls. After that, I become a big fan of AA and changed my mind to switch from Hanes. But the only one thing I didn’t like about AA was that the length varied. Some fitted, but some were longer. Anyway, that kind of thing is really American, I think. No-one cares about it, and will say “ So what? that’s America!”.
The last one I nominate is Nike Dri-Fit Knit T-shirts, first made-model in 2013, and made in Sri-Lanka. They were only available in the US, and limited European accounts. They were not suitable for daily use, but seemed to be perfect for running, they kept you dry while moving. But unfortunately Nike changed their specs for the next models, I’ve never felt the same good feeling with others.
MILK: Which brand and which year of t-shirt you think is most uncomfortable?
ME: I’m sorry, but I’d prefer not to answer that question, I don’t want to say anything negative about anyone’s products.
However, just one thing, I’m deeply concerned that the quality depends on the country of origin. Even the same products from different origins vary in quality. To me, that’s very disappointing.
And I’m definitely not interested in any high-brand clothing, especially items printed with “big brand logo” on the front, as if to show off how much money people have. That’s a kind of uncomfortable matter to me.
MILK: Which design, or which year of t-shirt you most want to collect but you can’t buy? What is the reason?
ME: I’ve been looking for NOS mid-1980’s Hanes Beefy-Ts for years, but I know they are not easy to get nowadays. Who else still keeps them? Even if I could find them, they would be too expensive to get.
I have to explain why the mid 80’s ones are so special. Many T-shirt shapes are like a letter “T”, but in the mid-80’s Beefy-T was not. The neck and shoulder part to the sleeve sloped down, it looked so cool, beautiful too! It also fitted my body tightly. But they were only produced for a short period, Hanes changed their specs soon.
MILK: If you find a t-shirt with very bad condition, but you really like the design and you really want to collect, what would you choose?
ME: Basically, I would ignore that item by closing my eyes, because my first impulse is to just wear it, or not, not just to collect or keep in the closet. I don’t want to wear any soiled, bad conditioned, old ones.
MILK: Do you think the t-shirts you collected is a part of your personal archive? Will you keep forever or you will sell it?
ME: Well, yes, they may be a part of me, over 30-year-old things still stay in my closet and wait to be taken out by me. They always remind me of when I bought them and hold memories, so I will not sell any or just throw them away when they are worn out.
I may give some to my friends if they want, (but I also know no-one wants such old things). If someone who is familiar with their value, requires some and asks me, I might give them some. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I won’t have them cremated with me when I die.
MILK:Please share more t-shirt Brand LABEL that you love.
ME: I want to share my favourite brands which you can easily get now.
1). Belva Sheen: Belva Sheen was established in OH, US in 1932. It went bankrupt in the 1990’s, but a Japanese company registered the trademark of “Belva Sheen” and re-built the brand value. They are made in the USA, using 5oz rough cotton.
2). Royal Apparel: founded in the 1980’s, is a NY business. Their policy is “MADE IN USA”. They produce the products in their-own factory in NY. Until a few years ago they were wholesalers, but now everyone can buy their T-shirts at their online store.
3). hommage: founded in 2017 in Japan. Sorry for introducing my own company. I pay hommage to good old 80’s T-shirts and they are custom-made to order by Royal Apparel, using US yarns fabric, attached the clothing labels which are made in Japan. Definitely that’s “made in USA” proudly.