Posted on March 16 2016
Punk doesn't need much in the way of an introduction: we are all familiar with The Ramones, The Clash, the Sex Pistols. We know that the music is loud and angry, sometimes bordering on nihilistic, but just as often it has a radical political edge. Punk culture prides itself on being individualistic and anti-conformist. And because punk is so proudly individualistic, the clothing is a way to showcase the wearer's interests and passions, especially the ones that the dominant culture might look askance at. Pins expressing far-left political ideas on a tattered leather jacket -- that's punk. Ripped shirt sleeves to show off numerous tattoos -- that's punk, too.
There are a number of clothing brands now that are inspired by this aesthetic. Below are some of our favorites, and our suggestions for punkifying your wardrobe.
This brand has a dizzying variety of clothing to celebrate your tattooed lifestyle. They offer their designs on a number of different styles of clothing, so there's something here to suit you whether you're a tank top or a t-shirt kind of guy. This also means you can get matching shirts for your best girl and, if you're a tattooed dad, your pre-inked offspring. Have the whole family show their love for the mighty tattoo gun by getting this Big Machine 3/4 Sleeve Baseball Shirt for yourself, a Beauty is Pain shirt for your girl, and a Lil Apprentice shirt for your kid. Maybe your kid really will grow up to become a tattoo artist and then one day they'll be giving you a brand new tattoo. It's the circle of life, man.
In addition to showing off the tools of the trade, Cartel Ink's designs are heavily influenced by sailor jerry tattoos. Sailors were proto-punks in a way, living on the edges of society and sporting the inked skin to prove it. You can get that traditional tattooed look with Cartel Ink's Panther Flash Hoodie or their wonderfully nautical Dead Men Tell No Tales Shirt.
TOO FAST APPAREL
If you didn't find quite what you were looking for among Cartel Ink's vast offerings, there are a number of other punk-inspired clothing brands you can check out.
Too Fast Apparel not only produces t-shirts but also art posters, so that you can decorate your crib as well as your bod.
This brand is particularly good if you want to add a bit of gothic grotesquery to your punk look. For example, we are super into this Specimen Jars T-shirt. Dead things! What's not to love?
Speaking of loving the dead, Too Fast Apparel also produces this great Zombie Anatomy Poster so that you can admire a beautiful pin-up corpse and learn important anatomical concepts while you do.
And once you're done admiring the undead Bettie Page, you can gawk at the freak show that is the Untattooed Lady.
This brand uses 100% ring-spun cotton for their shirts, meaning that they are extra durable and will be nice and comfortable against any sensitive new tattoos you might have.
No matter what sort of inked individual you are, Steadfast Brand has a shirt for you, whether you are a Tattooed Sailor or a Tattooed Grandpa(grandpas may be more infrequently tattooed than sailors, but that doesn't mean we should celebrate them any less).
Like Cartel Ink, Steadfast Brand offers a lot of designs inspired by traditional and neo-traditional tattoo art.
This is particularly true when it comes to their nautical themed clothing, like their Anchor T-Shirt or their Sailor's Ruin T-Shirt. It's mermaid punk! Have fun playing The Clash in your underwater kingdom and luring men to their deaths.
One aspect of punk is its tendency to twist or subvert the dominant culture, which is something that Lowbrow Art is great at. They take pop culture icons and give those innocuous icons a dark or ironic edge. Hence, you can get a shirt featuring a tattooed Felix the Cat who looks like he's about to start cheerfully summoning demons with the arcane symbols etched into his skin. Who doesn't want to wear that t-shirt?
Lowbrow Art's designers are not tethered by conventional art concepts and this results in some pretty surreal pieces. We particularly love this Invisible Girl T-Shirt which, like the zombie poster from Too Fast Apparel, mixes horror with pin-up art. But if you'd prefer the classics, Lowbrow Art also offers shirts with sailor jerry designs, like this Homeward T-Shirt. Can you ever have enough nautical themed shirts? In our humble opinion: no.
These clothes may come to you in pristine condition, but there's no reason they need to stay that way. We hope you love at least one of these shirts so much that you wear it to absolute tatters. Rip sleeves, wear holes in the fabric, and safety pin those rags back together again when they are just about ready to fall off your body. Don't be afraid to go hard on your new threads -- it's the punk way.
Do you need more tattoo news? Read related article: Tattoo Shop Etiquette and get schooled on your shop manners, tipping, pricing and courtesy.