Judging A Book By Its Cover: Out of Print Clothing Review and Interview with Todd Lawton
The oft-used quote by George RR Martin sums it up succinctly: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” Therefore, in addition to reading our favourite books, Out of Print Clothing has made it possible to flaunt them as well.
Stumbling upon their booth at BEA, the amount of book nerd emanating from it was palpable. It was a wearable library, which was heavenly. They have a range of products which include t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewellery, pouches, bags, socks, office supplies, and even coasters.
According to their website: “Out of Print celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Our products feature iconic and often out of print book covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art. We work closely with artists, authors and publishers to license the content that ends up in our collections. Each product is treated to feel soft and worn like a well-read book. How we read is changing as we move further into the digital age. It’s unclear what the role of the book cover will be in this new era, but we feel it’s more important than ever to reflect on our own individual experiences with great literary art before it’s forever changed.”
Furthermore, for each product sold, one book is donated to a community in need through their partner Books For Africa. So not only are you doing your wardrobe a service, but you’re helping others learn and read as well. Good karma all around.
Most of the collections are classic novels ranging from Hemingway to Jane Austen with a lot in between. The t-shirts are thin (but in a good way) and the detail in the print is great. It also stands up after a few washes. The same goes for the sweatshirt, which has possibly the softest interior ever. It was so cozy, I could fall asleep wearing it. They even mention why these are so wonderfully crafted on their about page: “We work closely with artists, authors and publishers to license the content that ends up in our collections. Each product is treated to feel soft and worn like a well-read book.” This I can personally attest is true. I’d also suggest sizing up, just to be on the safe side, when buying because they are slim fit. Additionally, they do have women’s plus sizes available as well.
Haven’t worn the socks yet, but they look good (opting for a pair from the Banned Books Collection). The pouches are pretty sturdy and always useful. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of classic American literature. To that end, one of my two favourite items was the Slaughterhouse Five necklace. Being a massive Vonnegut fan, it’s that necklace which drew me to them in the first place. I now wear it everyday.
The other item that caught nearly everyone’s eye at BEA was the Punk Authors tote. I’ve also gotten compliments on the tote bag every time I’ve used it. One thing, besides the aesthetics of it that I like, is the fact it has a little interior pouch, so I don’t lose my keys and phone in the endless depths of a big bag.
I already have shelves filled to the brim with my favourite books, it looks like my closet and dresser won’t be far behind. I honestly love the artwork and book selection, and it’s hard to choose my favourite. I’m also sure, I’m not the only one with the same problem.
In addition to testing out the products, I also got a chance to talk to Todd Lawton, one of the co-founders of OOP Clothing.
What gave you the idea to start Out of Print Clothing?
The most important thing that lead us to Out of Print was the commitment my business partner (Jeff LeBlanc) and I made to start a business that we would love being a part of on a daily basis. Once we decided to follow our passion for reading full time, creating a brand around the great art and lifestyle of reading came fairly naturally. It was perplexing that with so many passionate readers in the world, there were no great options to make bookish statement through apparel and merchandise. We wanted to change that, so we decided to be the brand you wear or carry when you want to talk about books.
Is there any method to choosing what books you’ve used for your products?
Early on it was a lot of guessing on our part. We started out with some classics as well as some lesser known titles with covers we felt were interesting and would resonate with readers. Now that we have a bigger audience of customers, we hear everyday about styles we should feature. We love the feedback, and it now dictates 90% of what we do. Once we feel we have a cover/title that people want, we still have to make sure the artwork fits right on the product as well as cross I’s and T’s with the copyright holders.
What are your favourite books (mine is “The Count of Monte Cristo”)? If you haven’t included them in your line, do you have plans to?
This is always the hardest question. I tend to read all over the place: classics, contemporary, non-fiction, sci-fi, fantasy…sprinkle in some YA for good measure. One of my favorites is “Catch-22” (we just came out with a Russian cover with is one of my new shirt crushes)…It’s also a favorite of Jeff’s, as is “The Count of Monte Cristo.” We’re working on something for “Count,” so stay tuned. Another book I tend to think about a lot is “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” I think this would a fun title to work with.
What are some titles that you want to do? Any of the books that have become quite popular in fandom/geek culture (e.g. The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc.) Or any LGBTQ+ friendly books/authors?
We’d love to let our geek flag fly a bit higher (it’s already up there pretty high, depending on who you ask). We launched a Sci-Fi collection last year and it’s been one of our fan favorites ever since. I can see us expanding it into more fantasy as well as refreshing with some titles we missed. The hard thing about some of the more popular titles like GOT, Hobbit, and Harry Potter is that they’ve been commercialized by movie and TV companies quite a lot. For us to take on a book like that we’d have to feel we have a unique enough perspective.
We’re always looking to add diversity to our collection; especially when our customers make requests. If there are certain titles or authors (or anything) you want from us, we want to know about it. We’re a small business, so it’s impossible for us to do every book out there, but when our reader friends vocalize what they would love to see from us, we listen.
You came out with the Punk Authors tote bag (which I happened to snap up at BEA before they sold out), where’d the inspiration for that come from? Is there going to be anything similar to that coming out soon? Another kind of ‘author au’, if you will.
The credit for the “Punk Rock Authors” design is owed to Wendy MacNaughton who came up with the concept and designed it on her own. We just love her work and thought it was a great fit for our brand of literary swag. Fortunately, she likes what we do too. We hope to work with her on some similar projects soon. Since we have the book cover shirt well “covered” it would be nice to start celebrating authors.
Are there any new collections that are coming out that you can tell us about? Or any new product types?
Leggings in August!!!! And something very awesome and more secretive is brewing for later on in the fall. Follow us on social media or through our email list if you want to be in the know.
Furthermore, in partnership with OOP Clothing, we are running a giveaway with them for our lucky readers! It’s an Writer’s Pack full of goodies! The winner will get: a “Plot Thickens” T-shirt (available in both men’s and women’s), Composition Notebook Pouch, the Punk Rock author coaster set, and a Banned Books tote! The giveaway starts tonight at midnight*, and you can enter by clicking below. It ends July 2nd at midnight*! here
*All times Eastern Daylight Time (time zone converter)
Contest begins: 12:00am June 25
Contest ends: 12:00am July 2
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