The English Tee Shop, which launched in London in 2012, is a unique brand who offers a fresh take on the basic wardrobe staple. They take references such as ‘keep a low profile’ and ‘to a tee’ (and many more) from the English language and lovingly hand print them, along with their true meanings, onto tees. With hints of irony spread across the designs, each one looks to introduce a bit of fun into English. All of the pieces are made in England and they use British suppliers for all of their materials.
I was very lucky to be able to interview Alia from The English Tee Shop and find out a little bit more about how the brand was formed and what exciting things they have lined up.
Where did the idea come from for ‘The English Tee Shop’?
The idea for The English Tee Shop came one evening while I was working at a language school over the summer teaching English to some very boisterous teenagers! I was looking for a way to combine my passion for fashion with my role as an English teacher and thought it would be very interesting to transfer some of my board work onto tees and encourage people to think more about the English language.
Where do you find inspiration for your phrases?
Inspiration for phrases comes in many forms; a lot of the time I find interesting things while preparing lessons for my students, there have also been occasions where I have jotted down something I’ve heard on the tube! Some of the prints in the most recent collection were actually inspired by our customers; last Christmas we were selected to be one of the first 6 tenants at Pop-Up Britain’s Victoria based pop-up shop where each brand had their own space showcasing their products. With so many words, phrases and sayings in the English language we wanted to hear about the ones our customers liked, so we created a space where they could share them, an ideas board, aptly called the ‘brewing wall’! We had lots of contributions, and some of them even made it onto our tees!
If someone approached you with a phrase they would like on a t-shirt, would you be able to produce it?
Yes! Recently we were commissioned by a lovely playwright who wanted a tee centred on a historical vase housed at the British Museum. She gave us some text for it and we transformed it into a design, it was lots of fun to create and she was extremely pleased with it.
You use British suppliers for all of your materials, is that important to you?
Absolutely, we make a point of using only British suppliers for our materials; everything from our care labels to our fabric is sourced in the UK. As a British designer I need to do my utmost to support British businesses very much like my own. Our country has so much to offer in terms of quality and craftsmanship and was once the manufacturing envy of the world, competition from overseas means that there are very few of these manufacturers left now. It’s time the ‘Made in England’ label made a resurgence.
Why did you choose to showcase your collection at Boxpark?
I love the Boxpark concept; it is a creative hub that promotes fashion and innovation. There is just one word to describe Boxpark and that is ‘cool’, we wanted to be part of the ‘coolness’.
What’s next for you after Boxpark?
I think we have been plagued with the pop-up bug! We would love to do more pop-up shops and stock our tees in more independent boutiques around the country and even the world!
My absolute favourites have to be the “Put Your Heart Into It” scarf with hearts and the long sleeved “Walk A Mile” top; I will be definitely adding these to my wish list!