Blog Series

Well Worn: Marta’s Favourite Band Shirt

July 10th, 2014     by Marta Balcewicz     Issue 26: Issue 26: The Fashion Issue     Comments

(Editor’s note: We asked Shameless editors, writers, and illustrators of our Fashion issue to tell us about their favourite item of clothing, shoes or accessory. Here is the first installation of our four-part blog series Well Worn.)

My Bikini Kill t-shirt, now slightly yellowed around the edges, arrived in a little package from Kill Rock Stars sometime during my mid teens. Kill Rock Stars was (and continues to be) a record label hailing from Olympia, WA that put out records by some of the coolest bands ever: Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, Huggy Bear, and, of course, Bikini Kill. To hear these bands was to have your life transformed. My place in the world, the clothes I wore (and still wear), the things I did (and still do), all changed once I discovered the music I was meant to discover. I shudder to think where or what I would be without it.

My t-shirt, and the means by which it came to me, reminds me of a great era when I would be forced to wait by my mailbox to get what I wanted. I would wait weeks, sometimes months for a package to arrive. When I was in high school, the internet was fairly new and definitely not the all-consuming thing it is now. To find out about shows, I relied on paper listings. To hear live versions of songs, I got on cassette exchange lists and received tapes made by kids at concerts and I made my own tapes in return. When I bought my first guitar, all I knew about it was that Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney played one that looked a lot like it. Above my bed, I had taped the Kill Rock Stars catalogue, which I found inside the first Bikini Kill CD I had bought in Toronto’s Rotate This record shop (which is still open). It was nice to be forced to discover, to wait, to lick stamps and prepare self-addressed return envelopes, to be unable to know everything right away. I belonged to the last generation of pre-internet teens and I’m quite grateful for how that all worked out.

This spring, I made it out to the U.S. Pacific Northwest for the first time in my life. My friends and I drove around the Olympic peninsula, so lush you’d think you’re in a fairy tale. We went to Olympia, home to the legendary independent label K-Records, to Evergreen State College, where many of the riot grrrl figures studied, to Anacortes, with its small bustling indie music scene, to Seattle’s Experience Music Project museum, which featured an exhibit dedicated to rise of the local grunge scene. When I got back home, there were some flat 12 inch boxes waiting against the door—records ordered, probably from eBay—and forgotten about. Then an e-mail from Shameless with a call for blog submissions about your favourite item of clothing. Things have changed, but not completely. The t-shirt still fits and I’m trying to master the art of healthy nostalgia.

Marta lives in Toronto where she spends her free time writing, sewing, and playing with her band, Tu Suis. Check out her article “So much more than sewing” on page 32 in Shameless’ Fashion issue on newsstands and library shelves now!

Tags: art, fashion

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