Friday, 19 February 2016

Girls Like Punk Rock Too (by Emma Prew)

Did you read Colin’s recent column about buying and wearing almost solely band merch? I did. I read it and thought: ‘This is great. I bet a lot of punks can relate to this.’ But then I realized that I can’t relate – because I’m a girl and I struggle to find any band tees that will actually fit me.

In my experience a lot of bands, dare I even say most bands, don’t have smaller t-shirt sizes for us ladies – or ‘skinny-fit’, as I think they are known. I’m sure some girls are happy to buy men’s shirts, but for me even a ‘small’ is huge and looks a bit ridiculous. I’m a short, slim, 20-something female punk fan and I know I’m not the only one – I see plenty others ladies just like me at shows. That’s not to say that I haven’t bought men’s small sized shirts in the past. As I write this, I am wearing a Frank Turner t-shirt from his 2011 UK tour. It is a man’s shirt and to make myself feel a little more comfortable wearing it I have cut the sleeves off and given it a deeper neckline but, even so, it’s not ideal. (Why do men’s t-shirts have such high and tight necklines anyway?) I’ve done this with a couple of other shirts in the past as well, but I’m still reluctant to buy loads of large shirts and cut them up!

I currently own a total of 5 ‘skinny’ band t-shirts (so this doesn’t include man-sized tees, whether I’ve customized them or not), none of which I’ve bought in the last 2 years:
  • 2 x The Gaslight Anthem t-shirts bought at gigs. I guess this is an example of a more popular band being able to cater to a wider variety of fans. Plus I guess they have a fair few female fans, compared to other bands within the punk rock world.
  • 1 x The Menzingers t-shirt that I had to buy online from the US merch store as the UK store (let alone a live show) had no skinny options. Also it was the only girls tee, so there was no choice. Good thing I actually liked it – because that’s another thing: sometimes the designs on ‘skinny’ tees are rubbish compared to men’s choices. I guess that’s a matter of opinion but the designs could be the same for both, couldn’t they?
  • 1 x Crazy Arm t-shirt that I bought directly from the band over Facebook. Now this is an odd one because for a more underground band you wouldn’t expect them to necessarily have ladies t-shirts. It’s not the most ‘fitted’ of skinny shirts but it’s small and certainly wouldn’t fit a man!
  • 1 x The Clash t-shirt that I just got online someplace. So firstly this goes completely against Colin’s rule of ‘only wear the t-shirt of a band that you've seen live’ – as I sadly haven’t seen, and never will see, The Clash live. Also I guess this could be seen as akin to those t-shirts with whatever band logos that you can get in high street shops… but at least I actually listen to The Clash. I still like the t-shirt anyway and wear it with pride.

Unlike Colin, I don’t mind a bit of the high street fashions – although I’m far from trendy and I still dress like a teenage greebo-come-hippy. Even so it really would be great to be able to have some more band tees, especially at gigs when loads of other punk fans are wearing them. As I mentioned, I didn’t buy any of those band shirts that I do own recently. I think I’ve ended up always assuming that when I go to gigs there won’t be any ‘skinny’ tees available. I’m not sure how much this is the case for every band and every gig within punk rock – it’s not like I’ve carried out extensive research – so I’m just talking from personal experience. I’ve had a little look online and not had much luck either. Against Me! have a couple of ladies tees which is great, though this is another example of a band with a larger fanbase being better able to cater to all of their fans. Of course Against Me! are a band with a female singer but there are plenty of other bands with female members that don’t have girls t-shirts on offer. That strikes me as disappointingly ironic.

I’ve been trying to avoid turning this into a massive rant because I know that the majority of punk fans are male and I know it’s not exactly cheap for bands to get tees printed in all shapes and sizes but, honestly, it does suck not to be able to sport my favourite band’s merch. I’d be interested to know if bands consciously choose not to print skinny-fit t-shirts for money reasons or whatever and if any female punk fans feel like me! If so, maybe we can do something about it?