Today's Times' Style Section takes a look at an apparent sartorial sensation taking place on the East End this summer, a phenomenon in the form of t-shirts. Starting his investigation at Johnny's Tackle Shop in Montauk, Style scribe Guy Trebay discovers one shirt, among many, to be emblazoned with The Lighthouse is that Way, the perennial answer to tourists' most common question. The Us vs. Them mentality denoted by most t-shirt statements is either seen as 'friendly localism' or a reminder of the exclusivity that has long characterized the East End. While Ditch Witch shirts sold at Ditch Plains are likened to the Martha's Vineyard iconic Black Dog, threads from Napeague's LUNCH and Bridgehampton's Candy Kitchen are symbols of the Hamptons' old guard.
Some sayings and images take more than a passing knowledge of the neighborhood to be understood. Trebay finds that Virgil Is Still the Frog Boy t-shirts embody a true sense of belonging, as the words were immortalized in the 1980s in graffiti 'spray-painted across a railroad trellis over Route 114'. (Virgil also inspired a play of the same name.) Despite the air of independence accompanying such words, members of the t-shirt club sometimes find themselves overpowered by a retail scene that's longing to seem local. (i.e. the ever-present beach theme...) Ralph Lauren's RRL has started selling pre-distressed shirts reminiscent of long out-of production Southampton Meadow Club tees, to both the horror and hidden happiness of local fans.
· Wipe that Smirk off your T-Shirt [NYT]
[Photo courtesy Tony Cenicola via NYT]