Written by: Lusanda Luthuli
I was strolling through Instagram a while back and I stumbled upon a Jonah Hill picture of him wearing a long sleeve tie-dye Grateful Dead t-shirt. Much like Shia LeBeaf, Hill has become some sort of a quirky fashion head’s icon with his Grateful Dead tops and every other look he’s been snapped in. A GQ article that pays homage to Hill’s style points out, “He’s shrugging off the rich, handsome, professionally-styled look that’s been turning actors into icons for decades, and taking a new individualistic approach to self-presentation.” He could wear plain clothing and people will still fall over and credit his taste in streetwear. It’s hard to hate Hill’s drip though - have you seen how he rocks those Samba’s ?
A 2017 article on Grailed points out, “there has been a wave of vintage Grateful Dead merch weaving its way into the fashion world. From reproduction bootleg tees, to new original designs, it's somehow become cool to sport the skull and roses again.” It’ll always be cool to wear an artist's merch.. It can be a basic Nirvana top without any graphics or Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour merch, people love music and want to represent it with their clothing. What makes Grateful Dead’s merch stand out is the tie-dye and the crazy graphics on them! The Lithuanian Basketball team’s 1992 Olympics tops with the graphic of a skull dunking is a great example.
For all the Deadheads who listen to the band or just appreciate the drip, their cultural relevance isn’t missed on something we consume daily, Instagram. Merch collection pages like From the Lot and Grateful Dead Notes are actively keeping the band’s legacy alive. The colours and overall weirdness of the band’s merch adds to its appeal. You automatically stand out when you wear something that has tie-dye. The chaotic energy behind the band’s top always makes people want to have a second look - you know when you get that, “Nice shirt, what does it say?” That’s when you know a boomer likes what you’re wearing but doesn’t understand why anyone would have that many colours on a t-shirt, unless they’re a hippie! Tie-dye doesn’t solely belong to the hippies anymore, or artists that don’t shower in the morning - the dynamic colours, skulls and roses on a Grateful Dead shirt is a collectors item that will be cool ten years from now. If you’re worried about looking like a poser by wearing a shirt of a band you don’t listen to - just remember that no one is a gatekeeper for what you put on your body! I wear skate shoes but who’s actually going to stop me from wearing it?