There is a fine line between what is considered cultural appreciation and appropriation. Accusations of cultural appropriation are unfortunately all too familiar in the fashion industry. In the most basic sense, cultural appropriation occurs when a dominant culture adopts elements from another culture that is experiencing oppression (i.e., prolonged discrimination). Nicole McCrimmon of Typical Black Tees is working to raise awareness and cultural competency in the small shop community. “We stand out from other shops because we reflect what we and others live. I absolutely love shopping at other progressive shops and I am friends with a lot of the makers. The issues appeal to me and I feel strongly about it,” McCrimmon explained. “But, I felt like this community needed a shop that spoke directly to Black people. We have a story in this country that is unlike any other and are still dealing with issues that impact us harder than any other community. We have a very distinct culture that is often copied and appropriated without any acknowledgement for us and the paths we have paved. This brand is made for those issues and the people who stand with us.”
Don’t let the name fool you – Typical Black Tees is anything but typical. McCrimmon describes the shop as “simple apparel that celebrates Black folk.” The small shop features adult and kid sized t-shirts, crop tops, tank tops and hoodies with slogans like, “Black Love is Activism,” “Not Your Culture, Not Your Money,” “Shea Butter Baby,” and one of my personal favorites, “Elect Black Women.” “My favorite design changes like the weather,” McCrimmon joked. “Right now, my absolute favorite is ‘Black Girls can do Anything,’ but our most popular shirts are our ‘R. Kelly Should be in Prison’ and ‘Cutie with the HAIR’ designs.” Typical Black Tees also donates a portion of all sales to helping and advancing Black people throughout the U.S., which inspires McCrimmon to continue creating. “I love the whole design process. Sometimes I get an idea from songs, sometimes just from things I talk about with my friends,” she said. “I love watching my conversations and the things that I care about come alive. When people like them, it makes it so much better.”
McCrimmon launched Typical Black Tees in October 2018. “Our name actually comes from our family. We have an Instagram account and blog called ‘Typical Black Family’ and when we changed the name, we were looking for something that reflects us,” she shared. “We felt like ‘Typical Black Tees’ was a great way for people to remember both pages. We also talk about issues that affect typical Black people.” McCrimmon initially opted to open up shop under the name “Black Ass Tees,” but quickly made the switch. “While we felt that name was really cool and loved it, we decided to change it to be more family friendly, reflect my own family and be allowed to advertise on social media,” she laughed.
Typical Black Tees has big plans for the fall. “We are hoping to come out with some items for the home. We are also hoping to be able to wholesale from other Black-owned businesses that sell products that reflect our culture.” Join the shop’s VIP Facebook group here for sneak peaks on upcoming releases and use the code TBTVIP to save 15% on your next purchase on the Typical Black Tees website. Thanks Nicole!