From money geek to money chic: Recession t-shirts

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There was a time, not that long ago, when knowing about the economy wasn't very cool. In those halcyon days, sporting a Greenspan for Pope t-shirt was likely to make you about as popular as a guy wearing Spock ears at a cheerleading camp. Today, however, we all know more about the economy; while that may sometimes be a little depressing, it has proven a major boon to the t-shirt industry.

Earlier today, a friend turned me on to a powerful little video about the current economic meltdown. Titled The Crisis of Credit, the ten-minute film explained, with impressive clarity, exactly how the U.S. has found itself in its current financial mess. Afterward, I was pondering how the film's creator, Jonathan Jarvis, hoped to make money off his opus when I noticed that he had linked to a Cafepress store where he was selling "Crisis of Credit" t-shirts. Available in white and green, the shirts featured an iconographic rendering of a family below the legend "Sub Prime."

This isn't the first time that I've noticed finance-based t-shirts working their way into the greater market. The trend makes a lot of sense: at their base level, t-shirts are a means for expressing one's concerns to the broader world. As the recession becomes an ever-increasing worry, it seems only logical that more and more people would wear their fears on their chests. Thus, a shirt with the word "bailout" under a picture of a guy jumping out a window more or less says it all, as does a shirt with an image of Bernie Madoff over the phrase "He Madoff With My Money."

Nowadays, there seem to be economy-based t-shirts for every notch on the political spectrum. For those who are using the economic downturn as an excuse for alcoholism, Recession Beer t-shirts more or less say it all. On the other hand, for those of a more severe bent, Ron Murrell's Recession shirts feature a pencil sketch of a consumer with his head in his hands. Finally, for those who are contemplating a jump to Communism, Busted Tees' LMAO shirts feature a screen print of Mao Zedong against a red background.

Speaking of our red pal across the Pacific, Whitehouse.org offers t-shirts that play off Wal-Mart's advertising campaign with "Mao-Mart: Always Outsourced to Communist Slave Labor. Always." Moreover, for those with deep pockets and little common sense, Native Clothing offers "F*** the Recession: I'm Still Rich" t-shirts. Printed with gold ink on a black background, the shirts are a steal at a mere $3,325 apiece!
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