H&M and Primark accuse bored blogger of spying

scaled Bitterwallet has a friend called Joe Madden who for years has been silently enraged by the shitty designs on the front of T-shirts sold by most of the UK’s fashion retailers. His particular bugbear is the deployment of the meaningless logo, usually including the name of a place and/or a number or year.

You know the sort of thing – ‘N. Jersey Atlantic Docks 1990’, ‘Eagle Flame 2000’, ‘Santa Barbara 1976’. Then there’s ‘Casdia Reef Fishing Tour’, with Casdia Reef being an entirely made-up place. It’s enough to make you chew your own elbows clean off.

But Joe has decided that silent rage is no longer the answer and he’s gone public… with a blog, helpfully called Meaningless T-Shirts. In order to fill that blog with examples of the garments that infuriate him, he went on a shirt-snapping shop tour at the weekend. Yes, we know he should probably find something more constructive to do with his time but, like, whatever.

offense-defenseAll was going well on his mission until Joe was accosted by a member of staff in H&M, who informed him that it was strictly forbidden to take photos, “because you could be working for another store, who might want to copy our designs.”

It's tempting to argue that if Joe was in fact practicing industrial espionage, he’d be a little sneakier and take the T-shirts into a changing room before photographing them. Hell, if nicking the design of the ’22 Offense-Defense Full Contact Beach Patrol’ T-shirt was so important, he’d probably stump up the price of one and copy it back at the office.

Later on, in Primark, the same thing happened to Joe again. As he says: “…this time by a Primark floor manager who called over a jumbo-sized security guard to forcibly delete from my camera any photos taken inside their store.” No, really. This really happened, for crying out loud.

Joe goes on to imagine a secret agent filing his report, deep within the bowels of a typical clothing retailer’s HQ: “Yeah, I got the pics alright – nearly got collared in New Look, but I kept my cool. You ain’t gonna believe what Primark are up to. Brace yourself: they’ve got a sweatshirt that says 1982 Canoe Systems. We’re in real trouble. 1982! Why the hell didn’t we think of that? I want our entire team working on some 1982 designs, ASAfuckingP!”

But don’t worry readers, he’s still got pictures of over 50 shitty T-shirt designs to add to his blog, and he’ll happily receive any others you can send his way. In the meantime, the best thing we can all do is to boycott the purchase of crappy T-shirts with silly, pointless words and numbers emblazoned all over them.

What’s that? You already were boycotting them? Oh, okay. Keep it up troops.


  • eddiex
    Me and my big mate John once got accused of spying for Superdrug by the staff in SemiChem.Just because we were picking up deoderants and the like and shouting that's not a bad price.Why the fuck I was in Superdrug with him in the first place is beyond me.
  • Nobby
    I saw a guy in Spain last week in a T-shirt with the slogan "I not drink the water from its bottle for any more time, come along with me and take a sip of the beer". And there was a picture of a duck drinking from a bottle of beer, with water bottles at his feet. WTF he couldn't just have a shirt saying "DRINK BEER" is beyond me. Same message, and it would have saved me time reading it. And while he would still look like a twat, he would at least look like someone that could understand what was written on his shirt. PS I am currently wearing a shirt with HONOLULU 1984 written on it. Oh well.
  • Nobby
    Also in Spain last week (look, I'm fucking classy OK), there was a woman wearing a blue T-shirt with "GREEN" written on it in sequins. I pointed out to here that her T-shirt was in fact blue, not green, but she didn't understand.
  • Alexis
    People might steal the designs? Off a Tshirt? Designed to be worn in public? That are no doubt on display to anyone 24/7 on their website? I love it when shop assistants think they're working for MI5 instead of the fabric equivalent of flipping burgers.
  • Amanda H.
    Im wearing a decapitated elmo shirt, you know so my head is now elmos head or elmos head is my head, its very technical you probably wouldnt understand nor appreciate the scematics. So I'll just say its magic.
  • Richard
    I have a t shirt like that! It's a stormtrooper
  • Zleet
    If I was the guy I'd get a T-Shirt printed with a picture of one of the shops t-shirts on the front then go back to H&M or Primark and watch the staff's heads explode.
  • Brian's U.
    yeah, I hate all those Abercrombie wearing idiots too.
  • Richard
    I like it when you see one of these tshirts and it's actually relevant like, bongobongo land road trip 1973, and you think, oh wow, I was actually on the 1973 bongobongo land road trip... Freaky!
  • Nobby
    If I was going to work for one of these design teams, I would make a T-shirt with "My friend went to China and all I got was this T-shirt full of lice"
  • Lumoruk
    I'm thinking about going into some shops to take pictures just to have one try and delete the photos...that would be funny.
  • Joff
    My T-shirt today has an embroidered "67".
  • lou
    Id get a t-shirt saying Quidco screw£d me over and Bitterwallet dont seem to care as they are busy covering irrelevant stories.
  • CMike
    Reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aOLPzbcnNQ
  • maxtweenie
    I'd get a load of t-shirts made with 'UNDERCOVER CLOTHING SPY' on the front and 'INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE OUR SPECIALITY' on the back. Then I'd stand outside H&M and Primarks & Spencer handing them out to anyone who wanted to wind up the security staff. They'd probably set the dogs on me, or have me secretly 'disappeared' as they've got the power to do that you know. They're highly trained in counter espionage. In fact they all have CTU on their shirts, just not in that order, and with an N in there somewhere too.
  • curious
    anyone know what all the "osaka 6" shirts are all about then?
  • The B.
    Buttfuck Jamboree 2002 rings a bell (end).
  • Dez
    H&M as with many retailers come up against a huge problem when designing t-shirts wit h slogans, numbers etc. The main reason for this is that a huge number of text is copywrited either by similar coporations, places or individuals. To get around this and potential lawsuits designers have to of course use their imagination and create prints that may appear meaningless. As for staff in stores, all businesses conduct a policy of no photographs unless pre agreed. This is mainly prevent their products premises being used in a way that may appear negative to the business. Hope this sheds some light on an interesting conversation. Try not to read too much into the message but appreciate some of the designs that can be quite cool.
  • Nobby
    Primark should have more interesting facts on them. Like how much the lucky bastards that get to make them get paid for a day's work. 2c would look cool on a t-shirt. Even better if a small hungry child was next to it.
  • Bollard
    What a complete knobcheese. I quite like random t-shirts, just because they are random! I don't feel the need to say something with my clothes, I use my mouth for that. I hate branded t-shirts because they just trying to say they cost more that twenty quid and plain t-shirts just look like the three for a fiver from Matalan jobs. Oh and V neck t-shirts make you look gay as does anything with pink or shiny stuff on it. Actually I thing I've got more of a problem than this guy has...
  • Zleet
    Why the fuck do all T-Shirts seem to come with a giant neck hole now? I really don't want to be seeing man cleavage, especially not on those deluded people who think they can still wear a small over their kebab gut.
  • Richard p.
    Old spice man doesnt wear Tshirts - - cool bastard - way ahead of the curve
  • Kevin
    Stupid reason but don't forget they have the right to not allow anyone to do anything they don't like in their shops (eg eat, drink, rollerskate), photography is often the same.
  • digriz
    Erm, legally no one can forced you to delete photos iirc.
  • digriz
  • Michael F.
    Most professional photojournalists understand that shops/stores require special permission to photograph the inside of. There is intense competition amongst retailers over stock, pricing, layout, design etc, and information on numbers of people visiting specific areas of a store at a particular time is worth a lot to those competitors. Getting stopped for taking photographs of t-shirts is not a surprise.
  • Uncle C.
    I got stopped for taking photographs in a clothing store recently. It's a shame because the lighting in the men's changing room was particularly flattering, I thought.
  • BedlinerBob
    Hi there, hows everyone at this excellent very fine message board doing today? Lucky I can be a element of the discussion board and I look forward to several beneficial encounters here!
  • Where S.
    [...] Nice post on this over on BitterWallet. [...]

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