Bit itchy, but this T-shirt shames latest effort
Aaron Chandler shows off his vintage Canberra T-shirt. Photo: Jay Cronan
The official centenary T-shirt does nothing to quash unfounded beliefs that Canberra is boring and bland. If you were to judge a city purely on its commemorative garb then the nation's capital in the 1970s was a lot more exciting and colourful than in 2013.
Like any good event worth celebrating - an iconic music concert, grand final, royal wedding or significant milestone in a city or town's history - a good T-shirt is de rigueur. Unfortunately the style selected to mark Canberra's 100th birthday is about as exciting as a lodging a tax return - online - with a dial-up connection. Slouchy silhouettes and street style ruled the runways of the recent international collections. For the past few seasons, sweaters and T-shirts with vintage prints and bold colours have featured prominently on social media, fashion blogs and in trend features of fashion magazines. However, it is a truth universally (and sartorially) acknowledged that a white, round neck poly cotton T-shirt with the words "Canberra 100" printed in black across the bust will not go down in history. It's vague, not Vogue.
While some may be ambivalent towards the shirt, the centenary team believe will be "highly sought after" the local fashion set, and people with a keen interest in nostalgia believe a T-shirt that was allegedly produced for the Australia 75 Festival of the Creative Arts and Sciences would be a better way to mark 100 great years. The one-off design, made from 65 per cent polyester and 35 per cent cotton, featured a colourful screen-printed diorama of Canberra's best known buildings and structures. The War Memorial, the Ethos sculpture in Civic Square and yachts on Lake Burley Griffin were just some of the motifs on the busy shirt which had a clear message - "Canberra is a cool place".
The Chamber of Commerce produced the shirt in the late '70s but is unable to reproduce the design as the original artwork has either been lost or destroyed. "We would be happy to see the shirt revived as it was very popular from all reports, but unfortunately we don't have the artwork as it was a one-off commemorative item," spokesman Greg Schmidt said.
Kambah resident Aaron Chandler inherited one of the rare T-shirts and still wears it to this day even though it "itches like buggery". He received the hand-me-down from his parents who wore the T-shirts while abroad at the 1981 International Students Day at the RAF Staff College in Berkshire, where students were asked to create a stall based on their country of origin.
"I have no doubt that the T-shirts alone created a fluctuation in tourists visiting Canberra from that locality," he said. While the official birthday celebrations may be over, T-shirt designer and proud Canberran Rohan Thomas wants to bring back the shirt. "I love those shirts and would love to redesign it. We could even have 10 different T-shirts each with a theme from the last 10 decades created by a group of local designers since we have so much talent here," he said.
The creator of the E4 label and Rojo Vinyl Customs said while the original fabric was a fashion crime, the print and style would be a sell out and collector's item given the current trend of making everything old new again.
"The print is very cool and we could either recreate it or just focus on certain monuments in more detail.''
Mr Thomas said a number of Canberra's fashion designers could create a commemorative T-shirt.