People have had enough. In the wake of the deaths of Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, James Scurlock, George Floyd and countless other Black people, activists everywhere are taking a stand against police brutality and systemic racism. Through protests, petitions, fundraisers and more, the people are sending the message. They’re even sending that message through T-shirts. Though many have since sold out, new tees continue to be released, raising awareness and funds for the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, Philadelphia-based brand ALLCAPSTUDIO and New-York-based 18 East come together for the cause, releasing the “Silence Is Violence” tee.
ALLCAPSTUDIO is run by Saeed Ferguson, former creative director for menswear retailer P’s and Q’s. His unique design aesthetic, he admits, is a bit difficult for him to explain, but is informed by his years at P’s and Q’s as well as his experience as a photographer. “I’m just starting to begin to learn how to explain how I design,” Ferguson says. “Essentially what I’m doing is taking things that already exist — messages, symbols, music, etc. — and sorta mashing them up to create something new that feels right to me.”
He’s garnered collabs with the likes of 18 East and Mister Green, each of which has completely sold out. But he doesn’t need exclusive collaborations to appeal; his standalone goods are all sold out, too.
Certainly, a tee like this released at this time carries more weight than a normal graphic tee. “To me, what you wear in any regard, at some point represents the ideologies that you believe and showcases that to the masses,” Ferguson says. Clothing, then, is one of the most effective ways to spread messages. From the Zoot Suits Riots of 1943 (which, coincidentally happened at about the same time of year) to the subverting of military clothes during the Vietnam War, clothes have had a history in America of sending a message of resistance. “It’s important that not only are these messages are seen and heard by the masses,” Ferguson says, “but understood, felt, and accepted by as many people as possible. Black people are threatened daily and are losing their lives by, in most cases, simply living and existing.”
The tee features Ferguson’s signature design aesthetic, a mix of photography, art, graphics and text. The result is almost a multimedia experience, reinforcing a single message: Black Lives Matter.
It features powerful imagery. On the back of the shirt, a sculpture that Ferguson found is surrounded by text and underlined with a quote written by Antonio Ciongoli, founder of 18 East. Describing the statue, Ferguson says, “…to me it has a soft, eerie vibe to it. It only shows half of a face which links to the idea of death, which then connects to the phrase ‘Silence Is Violence’. Like, if you don’t speak up, Black lives will continue dying, and you can both read that and see that at once. You get hit twice…”
The T-shirt is screen printed by hand in Philadelphia, on natural, undyed, six-ounce cotton jersey. Though nearly every release 18 East drops sells out quickly, the tee will be launching as a pre-order for 72 hours. So, the only thing that’ll run out is time. It’s available at available 18east.co and allcapstudio.com and every penny of the profits will be donated equally between Philadelphia Community Bail Fund and Covid Bail Out NYC.
If you can’t or don’t want to buy a tee, Ferguson shares other ways you can help. “Attend a protest! Sign petitions! Spread Awareness! Donate money directly to families that need help and other funds! Learn about the history of Black oppression and activism! If you have a company, hire Black people! Tell Black stories! Share Black voices!”