Japanese T-shirt designers feel that their industry is under threat from a new machine that may soon see them out of work.
The machine, known as the ‘Engrish T-Shirt-o-matic’, is the brainchild of Nagoya based tech company Imagine Us Glorious Cool Like Smile! and is expected to revolutionise the way clothing is designed in Japan.
“Each year Japanese fashion houses spend millions of yen paying designers to come up with English slogans to print on t-shirts,” said Imagine Us Glorious Cool Like Smile! CEO Mai Nishida. “We aren’t saying that the designers aren’t fantastic. I mean, I often wear a t-shirt that says ‘The Big Get’s Your Weather Love’. It’s a classic! But I think our technology can surpass even that greatness.”
The Engrish T-Shirt-o-matic uses software that randomly selects between four and seven words from the English dictionary and prints them on T-shirts in a mix of typefaces. A T-Shirt with the legend ‘Indwell Xenocracy Fun Conception in a mix of Comic Sans and Nazi typefaces has already exceeded all demand after a member of pop group RADWIMPS wore one during an appearance on the popular TV show ‘Anata ga shite iru koto wo aisuru terebipasonariti’.
However, many established designers are concerned that this software is a threat to their livelihoods.
“My colleagues and I have built our careers on designing cool t-shirts that on the face of it look like they have deep meanings in English but actually mean nothing whatsoever,” said Nana Kato, head of the Super Engrish Clothing Syndicate (SECSy) and designer of the famous ‘Laughing Kindness From Smooth Friendliness’, a t-shirt that is credited with sparking the Engrish T-Shirt craze.
“My main concern is that this machine may halt the progresson of the next generation of designers, those who cut their teeth in the industry working at the lower end of the industry,” Kato continued. “However, I cannot foresee it ever completely replacing my fellow SECSy designers at the high fashion end of the market as our output is of a quality that cannot be easily replicated.”
Nishida, however, disagrees “The Engrish T-Shirt-o-matic is so sophisticated that in the future we could see all T-Shirts in Japan being designed by it, and all it takes is a touch of a button. For example, how about ’Silence Drag Angel Multi-coloured Fuck’? Put that in a combination of Britannic Bold, Tekton Pro and Palatino typefaces, and I think we are on for a winner.”
Update: Since this article first went to press Nana Kato was found dead in her Roppongi apartment. Rumours that she hanged herself with a t-shirt of her own design with the slogan ‘Joking Dreams Flower Enjoy Seeing’ are yet to be independently corroborated.