I Love Tehran Shirts

(photo: Takin Aghdashloo)

The message is simple and clear, and graphic designer Takin Aghdashloo’s I Love Tehran shirt embodies the kind of effusive Iran-fondness we like to get behind. If it looks familiar, that’s probably because blogger Hossein Derakhshan has worn it a bunch, once on Canadian TV (case in point: see the photo in this Pars Arts post from early last week), and it’s had some other press. We’ve wanted one for a few months now but were holding off for women’s sizes, which appeared in January.

Takin told us they’re going to have “more colors and 1-2 more designs” later this year, so we’ll keep you posted. Not only do we love this shirt, we love that at $25 a pop, you don’t have to break the bank to get one. Another plus? It’s American Apparel so there’s no sweatshop guilt, and some of the proceeds go to an Iranian charity for children. Buy yours right here.

NIMANY

Pars Arts is happy to bring you something a little different today. Sepideh Saremi and Asad Baheri, fashion neophytes, recently found themselves both intrigued and perplexed by NIMANY, the work of designer Nima Behnoud. Here’s their instant messenger conversation about NIMANY, fashion, and the ethics of cashing in on culture.

Sepideh: ok so we’ve chatted back and forth a bit about this designer nima behnoud’s t-shirts
Asad: yes
Sepideh: i’m really conflicted
Asad: and I love that he is using persian calligaphry
Asad: what are you conflicted about
Sepideh: yeah, it’s beautiful
Sepideh: well, for one they’re $70
Asad: yes
Asad: that puts it way out of my price range
Asad: I was thinking about designer clothes
Asad: and a friend of a friend of mine has his own label
Sepideh: which one, can you say?
Asad: it’s called Tavik
Asad: it’s not persian, just so-cal
Asad: he’s had stuff appear on the OC and he has some pro-surfers wearing his stuff
Asad: his shirts and board shorts are 30-40
Asad: that I can deal with
Sepideh: is the guy persian?
Asad: no
Sepideh: cool logo tho
Asad: and Tavik sounds persian doesn’t it
Asad: I dunno why
Sepideh: a lot of persians buy louis vuitton and prada and coach crap too tho
Sepideh: so maybe $70 is not out of range for nima’s target audience?
Sepideh: (you’re right, tavik does sound persian)
Asad: I was yelled at the other day for calling louis vuitton LV
Sepideh: i guess it makes me a little sad that i can’t get one because it costs so much… and makes me feel left out
Asad: depends on the target audiance I guess
Sepideh: right
Sepideh: i read that heidi klum really likes his shirts
Asad: but how many persians are rushing out to buy 70 tshirts with just persian calligraphy
Sepideh: right, exactly
Sepideh: what if you spill something on it, right? jeez
Sepideh: there’s a guy on westwood blvd who does amazing calligraphy paintings and i got one for $120…$120 doesnt seem so bad for a painting but $50 less for a tshirt seems egregious
Sepideh: maybe because tshirts are casual and this goes along with that whole pricey casual thing
Asad: and I didn’t like that cuba campaign either
Asad: yes
Sepideh: like $200 jeans and etc.
Sepideh: puke
Sepideh: but a LOT of persians are into it
Asad: I like my threadless $20 tshirts thank you very much
Asad: well I was thinking about a pair of 200 jeans
Sepideh: and threadless shirts are really cool too
Asad: BOSS jeans are the only ones that fit me really well
Sepideh: wow so retro!
Asad: but they are insanely expensive
Sepideh: hugo boss makes me think of the 80s
Sepideh: like, shiny black coffee tables and lots of red lipstick
Asad: lol, they are still around, just selling expensive stuff
Sepideh: maybe i’m a cheapskate then
Sepideh: my favorite jeans cost $20, i get them on sale at express and they last about a year
Asad: you know, one of my favorite pairs of jeans is from target
Asad: does that make me a pauper
Sepideh: everyone does that stuff tho, but dude, back to nimany

Asad: ok
Sepideh: another thing that gets me is the very generic punkiness of it
Sepideh: i feel like persian calligraphy’s getting used
Asad: it doesn’t look like it’s something that took a lot of effort
Sepideh: used in the bad way
Sepideh: i feel bad for rumi
Asad: I didn’t feel like wow, this person did a lot of design
Sepideh: altho it looks like he is a graphic designer and has done a lot of other stuff
Asad: that doesn’t bother me as much, it’s normal to recycle cultural icons
Sepideh: i suppose
Asad: but this strips it of its meaning somehow?
Sepideh: i mean when heidi klum says wow these are fantastic
Sepideh: that makes me sorta meh
Asad: cause she doesn’t know anything about the background?
Sepideh: i dont know, maybe i’m still just mad i dont have one
Asad: heh
Sepideh: yeah bcz she’s sort of a clothes horse
Asad: well in LA at least persian calligraphy is well known

Sepideh: another thing is i’ve only seen one person wearing one of these nimany shirts and
Asad: at least in the graphic world people know persian calligraphy
Sepideh: he was sort of a persian scenester, so that’s a turnoff
Asad: well those are the persians that buy the LV, CK… brand stuff
Sepideh: but then when i read this history page on his website i was really impressed by the production process for the shirts
Sepideh: tho a while ago there was this feature on iranian.com
Sepideh: remember that?
“East Kisses West”

Sepideh: it feels sort of contrived
Asad: oh yeah, I remember that
Sepideh: “We made hand-distressed denim and held shows in the underground parties in northern Tehran. We sold them to the hipster crowd not to make money but to be cool!”
Asad: from the history: “Behnoud feeds this hunger for unique fashion with unparalleled creativity.”
Sepideh: right…
Asad: yeah I am not buying it
Sepideh: i think that’s an unfortunate sentence
Asad: hah
Sepideh: and then he says this: “Unfortunately most of what we are presented today, through the context of Iranian culture and image in the art scene is a melodramatic and sad depiction, referring to a tragic former existence that is no more. That detached and melancholy presentation of the Iranian life style bothers me; not because it does not exist, but because it completely ignores an entirely different face of life and energy, which drives and energizes the youth of Iran.”
Asad: I dunno what that means
Asad: the energy that drives and energizes the youth of iran?
Sepideh: i think it means that he thinks iranian art is too depressing
Sepideh: and that young iranians like to party too?
Sepideh: i suppose we ought to ask him directly
Sepideh: i sort of agree that most iranian art made outside of iran is pretty melancholy/political
Asad: everyone likes to party
Sepideh: maybe that’s because it’s what non-iranian audiences want to see/need to see, maybe it’s a political or personal expression of the artist
Asad: yes
Asad: well I dunno about persian art being depressing, there is a lot of persian art that is beautiful
Asad: it’s just that here in the US we don’t know too much about it
Asad: but it exists in europe
Sepideh: i dont think depressing and beautiful are mutually exclusive either tho
Sepideh: so his idea is to show iran’s underground scene…
Asad: you know I just don’t buy the underground scene, christiane amanpour is forever talking about the underground scene
Sepideh: except when that scene HAS to be underground there are definitely implications that are important, right?
Asad: I think they both went to the same basement party
Sepideh: you hear all this stuff about iranian kids rolling on e and snorting coke
Sepideh: i’m not sure if that’s the same underground he’s talking about or what
Asad: there is definitely a music scene, and I don’t think that’s sad and depressing
Sepideh: agreed
Sepideh: but my deal is maybe positioning these shirts to new yorkers and etc.
to whom “underground scene” means nothing except that it’s exclusive and cool
Asad: yeah
Sepideh: i think that does a disservice to the same iranian youth whose underground scene exists bcz they can’t live freely
Sepideh: not to get too “melodramatic and sad”
Asad: so how much would you pay for a nimay shirt
Sepideh: i don’t know…
Sepideh: now that i’ve articulated how they make me feel i’m not sure i’d wear one at all
Sepideh: then again, it’s likely i’m just projecting
Asad: I am not sure if I would wear one, it’s just not me
Sepideh: why not?
Asad: it’s too exclusive and cool
Sepideh: somehow that makes it uncool
Asad: yes
Sepideh: like it’s trying too hard
Asad: exactly
Sepideh: like the persian scenester i saw one of these shirts on!
Asad: it reminds of the persian guy with all the designer clothes and cologne and the mbz
Sepideh: haha
Asad: yup yup
Sepideh: so maybe we’re put off by these shirts reinforcing that stereotype?
Asad: I am at least
Asad: and honestly I think a lot of other people would be too

Sepideh: i think he has a really excellent opportunity to introduce his clientele to persian culture
Sepideh: instead of just stopping at “they’re grabbed by the graphical element”
Sepideh: this is rumi and hafez we’re talking about, it’s not just a graphical element
Sepideh: i think i want it to be more than it is
Asad: yes
Sepideh: so i think i’m slightly pissed that the use of persian graphics, which belong to all of us, stops at fashion
Asad: I know what you mean in that aspect, he’s just using things that we consider our heritage to make money
Asad: you want him to add something to it
Sepideh: yes
Asad: instead of just putting it on a tshirt and saying hey it looks cool
Asad: he could put any words on there instead of hafez and rumi
Sepideh: exactly
Sepideh: maybe it’s another layer of exclusivity
Sepideh: not only do you have to have $70, you also have to be able to read the shirt
Sepideh: double-insider
Asad: yes!
Asad: you have to be super-cool to totally get it
Sepideh: i’m okay not being that cool
Sepideh: i bought a tanktop once with a picture of googoosh on it
Sepideh: it was the only way a lot of people knew i was iranian when they saw me
Asad: did you feel more exclusive in it?
Asad: I have a tshirt with the picture of the national football team on it
Sepideh: or rather, they were confused as to why this white-looking girl was wearinga googoosh shirt, until i’d say hi
Sepideh: so it was a cute way to say “hey, i’m persian too!”
Sepideh: yeah, team melli is cool
Sepideh: i didn’t feel exclusive, but felt more included, if that makes any sense
Sepideh: like wearing a nametag or something, it showed people who i was
Sepideh: pretty powerful for a tank top
Asad: yes
Asad: I guess it all depends on which group you are looking at
Asad: we are really big on our groups
Asad: are you aryan or turkish or afghan or ….
Sepideh: yeah
Sepideh: i get all googly for pretty much all middle eastern people, and babies from anywhere

Asad: is there any designer clothing line that you would pay 70 for
Sepideh: um well i’ve paid more than that for shoes before
Sepideh: sneakers, no less
Sepideh: but i bought those 4 years ago and still wear them, so maybe that’s different
Asad: I paid about S120 for a pair of kenneth cole shoes
Asad: but they last and are super-comfortable
Asad: but I think that’s different
Sepideh: yeah shoes are different
Sepideh: i can say with absolute certainty that i will NEVER pay $70 for a tshirt
Sepideh: i dont care if coco chanel came back from the dead and stitched it for me herself, it’s just too much money for something i’ll eventually wear to the gym or to bed
Asad: hahahaha
Asad: yes
Asad: I agree
Sepideh: so hopefully nima doesn’t hate us too much now
Asad: it’s ok
Sepideh: we can’t afford his shirts anyway
Asad: I am already kicked out
Asad: lol exactly
Sepideh: at least we can read them
Asad: good point
Sepideh: take that, heidi klum

Asad Baheri is a Pars Arts contributor and writes at Evil Asad. Sepideh Saremi is the editor of Pars Arts.

Legofish Shirts for X-Mas


There’s a holiday sale going on at the Legofish Store, which is run by the Persian blogger and super-talented graphic designer Legofish, aka Pendar Yousefi. The “Simorgh” Yoga Top pictured above is based on a Persian fairytale; the simorgh is a beautiful, mythical bird. I really like the placement of the graphic on this shirt because it won’t get all distorted (ahem). Yousefi’s store also has shirts with a cool lion graphic and Sassanid graphics (these are less ornate and still very elegant). Go snag one now (about $25 Canadian).