Non-existent clothes have been the hottest thing in fashion all year. At the beginning of 2011, a guy named Alex Gibson mocked up some incredible looking sweatshirts in Photoshop. After that, the 'shopping-an-image-over-a-sweatshirt concept became kind of a big deal online and loads of poor Tumblr imitators followed suit. Then the Sexy Sweaters Tumblr came along and blew everyone else out of the water by designing sweatshirts featuring everything from Oprah as Jesus to Nick Knight's photo of Devon Aoki as a fucked-up killer cyborg from planet fashion.
Sexy Sweaters is run by Greta Gibbens and Alec Weitl, who met in high school and have been besties ever since. It isn't just designing great sweaters that's made their site so popular, they also have a kind of "all reblogging is good reblogging" policy. Sexy Sweaters' contact button is titled "Hit Me Up And I'll Bitch At You," and they display their troll's comments alongside their designs and actively engage commenters in discussion. The duo are now trying to get some of their designs printed, thereby dampening the ball-ache that comes from seeing all these amazing designs and knowing you'll never be able to wear them.
VICE: This whole concept started out as putting unprintable designs on sweaters, right? Now you want to try and print some?
Greta Gibbens: Well, the thing is, they’re not unprintable, it's just expensive and complicated to make them. The reason that sweaters like this haven’t been produced is largely because people believe there isn’t a market because of the high price of producing one-offs, but I hope our large fanbase can make the figures work.
What would you want to print first?
Personally, I’d wear any one of the Disney sweaters.
Which sweaters do your viewers want you to make?
Well, our whole mission is to make sweatshirts that will appeal to the various niches on Tumblr. We make kawaii sweatshirts, Harry Potter and Doctor Who sweatshirts, we’ve made some metal sweatshirts… and the amount of notes they all get in general is pretty amazing.
Do you guys ever disagree on a design and feel like it has to be taken down? If one of us is going to make a controversial sweatshirt, we’ll talk to one another and make sure that we can both stand behind it, although there are a few subjects that we’ve agreed not to show. For instance, I would have felt really uncomfortable putting Chris Brown on a sweatshirt because I feel like that would glorify domestic abuse.
Do you ever worry that other people are going to start printing these kind of sweatshirts before you? Plenty of people have already started Photoshopping their own, right?
I’ve looked at a lot of similar blogs and, to be honest, the quality just isn’t as good. I’ve been obsessed with Photoshop since fifth-grade and I can always tell how a site has created their images—they don't know the process and you can see the images don't look as good. Also, the blogs that do have high-quality images just don’t have our appeal. We create some hideous, tacky sweatshirts, but almost every sweater gets at least 100 notes.
Why do so many people on Tumblr hate on you?
They don’t, really. We get 700-800 messages a day, and most are very positive, but we don’t want to clog our followers dashes with 700 posts of us thanking people. So we publish some funny responses, which people enjoy, and that’s about it.
What about the hate that you publish on the blog?
Well, you know, trolls aren’t particularly imaginative people, and I say that with love—I used to be a total /b/tard. The thing is, if one person hates something, then everyone thinks, "Oh, I should send them hate, too."
Another example of the evil anons at work. I also like the debates you've been getting in with commenters about the dangers, or lack of dangers, of drugs. Why haven't you designed more drug-related stuff?
We post quite a lot, actually. In fact, we've had requests to quit posting so many.
Are you glad the sweaters have become a meme?
Yes, I’m so immensely flattered. Like I said, I used to spend a lot of time on 4chan, and my boyfriend and I actually got together because of a shared love of memes. Being able to show him that we were on Reddit and knowyourmeme was incredible and just surreal. I’ve been trolling those sites for ages and now I’m on them.
Living the dream.