T-shirts in Dubai

Forget haute couture and fancy pants - <em>Time Out</em> finds a shop that is turning the plain old T-shirt into something fabulous

James Dean
James Dean

Think that T-shirts are a mundane item of clothing? Think again, buddy. The ludicrously named Design Tshirts Store graniph (it’s Japanese, you see) has touched down in Dubai and brought with it some of the funkiest, loudest, best T-shirt designs in the world. Monochromatic, machine gun wielding elephants; pastel-tinted pastoral scenes; obscure cultural references; surrealist wrongness; cutesy little kittens: they’re all here, and more besides.

Oh, and lots of broken English. Like we said: Japanese. A word of warning, though: if you’re prone to impulse purchases stay away. The store gets new stock every two weeks and, since they only get eight T-shirts for each design, it’s very easy to get pulled into an ‘ooh, can’t let this one go’ buying frenzy.

On the other hand, they’re not pricey – just Dhs125 for a single shirt, or Dhs100 per shirt if you buy more than one – and it does mean that the chances of wearing the same shirt as a friend are virtually nil.

Be warned, though: the pure cotton T-shirts are prone to shrinking, so buying a size bigger than you need is probably a good idea. Do check with the store staff before you make any purchases, and follow the care instructions to the letter.

The focus is on the humble tee: most of the store is taken up with them, from unisex to ladies-only and, yes, long-sleeved T-shirts, that oxymoronic garment (a long-sleeved, short-sleeved shirt. What?) whose evolution has baffled clothing historians everywhere.

But graniph knows that a man cannot live on T-shirts alone, so hoodies and shirts are also available, with belts, shorts and the like to appear at some point in the future. But for the time being we’re more than happy with just the tees. Now when’s the next shipment coming in?

Shirt story

Important landmarks in T-shirt history.
The ’10s: The origin of the T-shirt is lost to the mists of time, but it is known that 1913, the US Navy adopted cotton, short-sleeved undershirts to be worn under jumpers for insulation. This isn’t sounding as mysterious as we hoped, frankly.

The ’20s: ‘T-shirt’ enters the American-English dictionary. A new era begins!

The ’30s: T-shirts are worn as undergarments by many until 1934, when Clark Gable reveals a T-shirtless chest in It Happened One Night. Sales plummet.

The ’50s: James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire turn the T-shirt into the must-have outer garment for rebellious teens.

The ’60s: Tie-dyed tees are the order of the day in the disorder of hippie communes everywhere.

The ’70s: The popularity of ringer T-shirts – the plain ones with different coloured head and arm collars – reaches its peak.

The ’80s: Pop groups like Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Wham! popularise the slogan tee. Later, heat-sensitive, colour-changing dyes make Global Hypercolor’s T-shirts the must-wear item. Kids are delighted; dads with dayglo sweat patches less so.

The ’90s: Big businesses catch on and start applying logos to T-shirts everywhere. Being a billboard becomes fashionable.

The ’00s: The internet and stores such as graniph make quirkier, unique T-shirts fashionable.
Festival Centre (04 232 8531), open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Sat 10am-12 midnight.

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