I (heart) NY. Everyone knows what I’m referring to and its not just a rip off of pop art genius (and fellow Hoosier), Robert Indiana. Its not necessarily the best tee, but its definitely the most recognizable. Its the Mona Lisa of tee shirts. Its the official garment of NYC (even though no one there wears them). But, what is so special about it is that it effectively communicates universally and in an iconic American visual language that transcends its stuffy high art influences.
The tee is the go to New York memento. It serves as a conversation starter, a souvenir and often, bragging rights for those who bring one back from to their small towns in the Mid-West. What differentiates the tee shirt from another souvenir is the direction of the projection of its sentiment and the generalization of those elicited thoughts. A souvenir, which is tied to an idiosyncratic thought, is thus rendered ineffective in communicating to someone not sharing that experience. The tee, in general, is contradictory to the general nature of a souvenir as it is used to tell everyone else something.