Unless you’ve been living under a colossal rock, you’ll be well aware that tees of the motorcycle brand variety have become a particular force to be reckoned with in millennial/Zoomer fashion in recent years.
And honestly, what a gift it has been.
I don’t care If I sound more basic than a Sunday morning brunch order consisting of avo toast and an almond iced latte, but a vintage motorcycle tee has the potential to take anyone from a 5 to an instant 10.
I don’t care how loud a festival hooligan is screeching ‘Hey Baby’ while spilling their $18 Vodka Redbull on me – if they’re wearing a vintage Harley-Davidson tee my heart instantly pangs.
Mostly, I don’t care if you’ve never hooned through the streets on a two-wheeler either, you have my heart.
Naturally, I had to do a little market research as to whether others felt the same way, so I posed the question and asked around.
And yes, the consensus is in – motorcycle paraphernalia = hot.
The masses have adopted them well beyond the grimy, interesting motorbiking subculture. Even though you’re able to cop ’em at your suburban Universal Store these days, motorcycle culture is anything but basic (which is literally what GOMA’s latest exhibition is all about), which is probably what adds to the aura of it all?
Anyway, here’s my hypothesis on why anyone wearing one of the shirts could instantly put a ring on it.
They exude a supreme mysterious aura
There’s nothing sexier than a bit of mystery.
Wearing a ~motorbike tee~ raises a slew of questions from the get-go and in turn, a bunch of conversation starters which is always a plus.
Do you actually ride? Do you own a motorbike? Does biking run in your family?
Even if the answer to all of those questions is no, there is still more to be discovered.
Where did you buy it? Is it actually vintage? Do you know you’re an icon?
You get the picture.
The weathered-down-ness is peak sexy
Whether it’s a cut-off grey Dues tank or a beat-up white Yamaha tee, there’s just something about a slightly crinkled, maybe moth-bite ridden shirt that oozes confidence.
They’re just so damn rugged. They evoke a mood and a vibe so clearly. Just witnessing one in the wild can transport you to a highway in the middle of the Utah desert, navigating the open road until a coyote guides you to an oasis (or something like that). It’s like they encompass the carefree, adventurous nature of the motorcyclist’s journey.
There’s a story behind every motorbike vintage tee – you’re instantly part of a long history and tradition that you had to contribute nothing too. Being instantly interesting without having to do anything at all, it’s the dream.
They will make you look tough even if you’re a wimp
Now I’m not leaning into traditional toxic masculinity tropes here whatsoever. Toughness comes from within, and a motorbike shirt inherently has a lot of heart.
You’re probably super passionate, love with every fibre of your being and embrace every inch of life to the fullest.
It’s a beautiful thought to have really.
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They go with everything
Do they match perfectly with Dickies? Yep. Jeans? Yep. Tied-up to crop it over a long skirt? Yep.
It’s literally the base-level effort needed to look fire, and as a lazybones with low expectations, I can get around it.
Seriously, it’s one of the easiest ways to impress people, and I adore that energy.
They’re a little bit edgy but not ~too~ much
So black metal tees and really overt streetwear designs have also taken up the highest echelons of festival/party gear in recent years. Wearing those pieces requires some level of dedication to a creatin lifestyle that not all might be able to lean in to.
Basically, you can wear your inner-edginess on your leave without committing fully with a motorcycle tee. They insinuate that you’re for the culture for sure, but you won’t be dragging me along to a seance anytime soon (if that’s your thing, that’s cool though).
In saying that though, if you do have a deep and rich knowledge of the vast and blood-pumping history of motorbiking culture, that’s also a huge tick in the ole’ books. GOMA’s current exhibition will give you a look into the subculture’s journey with an emphasis on tech developments and the future of the bikes.
Sound cool? They’ll also have a sort after pop-up shop on display too where you’ll be able to cop authentic motorbike tees from every brand under the sun.Image: Universal Store