At the moment I have a wish list of clothing. These are things that I have scouted out online, adored, placed in my online shopping bag and then left there; an invisible shopping basket slowly filling and waiting until I have due cause, or enough money, to purchase it. Top of this proverbial, imaginary pile of lovely things, is a number of Out of Print clothing items. After reading about this company somewhere on the internet (I actually have no idea where but it must have impressed me) I was charmed by their message, passion and incredibly soft looking t-shirts. They made the cut and were duly piled on that Topshop dress that has been sat in the internet ether for a couple of weeks now.
Out of Print celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Their products, including tote bags, coasters, phone covers, jumpers and t-shirts all 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. I wouldn’t recommend buying the whole set as it might look a little strange as you arrive in the library in your Clockwork Orange jumper, remove it to reveal your Slaughterhouse Five t-shirt, and take your Pride and Prejudice notebook out from your Moby Dick tote bag all whilst texting on your Lolita emblazoned phone – although you can if you want. I think the joy of these pieces is the idea that you have something special. Out of Print work closely with artists, authors and publishers to license the content that ends up in their collections, making them highly individual items. Each clothing item is treated to feel soft and worn like a well-read book.
What is so delightful about this company is the fact that they so obviously adore books; it is their passion, their mantra. Their blog, given as much weight on their website as the shopping page, keeps you up to date on the literary world. On Halloween they posted an animation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart – spooky but delightful stuff. They also recently posted a fascinating letter written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1973 in response to the burning of his book, Slaughterhouse Five, in a North Dakota school.
It is also clear that they love people who love books. The section, ‘What’s your Story?’, documents this shared passion as fans send in photographs of them wearing Out of Print merchandise in a plethora of situations. It also shows their famous followers, such as Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Chris O’Dowd (from the IT Crowd, just in case you don’t know). You can share your love of their products and books web-wide. Yes, this is a great publicity stunt but let’s not be too cynical, it’s also quite fun and amusing viewing.
Finally, the thing that most makes me want to buy one of their items is that in addition to spreading the joy of reading through their tees and accessories, they have another mission. Out of Print acknowledge that many parts of the world don’t have access to books at all, and are working to change that. For each product sold, one book is donated to a community in need through their partner, Books For Africa. So your well saved funds can go towards something that will keep you warm on the inside as well as they keep you warm on the outside.
All these delightful factors make me hopeful that one of the Out of Print items will survive the imaginary wish list and eventually become real. I have a feeling they might, as although one glance of an unhealthy bank-balance will ensure the removal of that twenties style sequin covered dress that I really don’t need, I’m quite confident the Out of Print t-shirt that I have coveted for so long will remain. It allows me to purchase the super soft, dark gray v-neck embellished with the iconic book jacket designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer for a novel many consider to be among the best in fiction, Ulysses, whilst also conscious that I am doing a good deed, all be it a small one.