The New Black: Mos Def’s T-Shirt Experiment

The worlds of fashion and music dabble with one another from time to time, though musicians now have more incentive than ever to embrace the runway.

The reason is that traditional music sales and promotional channels are often vacated, and newer channels are often hopelessly fragmented.

Against that backdrop, Mos Def is now tossing a fresh tee into the ring.  The ‘Mos Def Music Tee’ is more than just a t-shirt – it is the clothing embodiment of the rapper’s newest album, The Ecstatic.  The shirt, being finalized now, will feature the album cover on the front, tracklisting on the back, and an attached redemption code to download the album online.

The concept is interesting, and part of an evolving music merchandise lineup.  “It’s taking an album and turning it into a t-shirt,” designer Jeremy Wineberg, president of Invisible DJ, told Digital Music News on Wednesday.  “Each shirt comes with a digital download tag carrying a unique code and is manufactured by clothing company LnA.”

But wait, this gets more interesting.  According to Wineberg, the shirt itself will be counted by Soundscan, despite the totally non-traditional format.  “We’re just reporting numbers,” Wineberg said.  Then, after the purchase, the user can quickly re-engage with the artist – either through an artist page, or in the case of Mos, lnaclothing.com.  “You’re bypassing the middleman, like iTunes,” Wineberg continued.

So what’s next?  The LA-based Wineberg pointed to a number of artists tees in the future, though the Mos Def t-shirt will start circulating early next month.

Report by publisher Paul Resnikoff in Los Angeles.