May 13, 2021

‘I was terrified of getting a letter from Gucci’: the man who popularised the bootleg slogan T-shirt

In late 2006, Brian Lichtenberg launched a line of subverted slogan-wear, including the famous Homies sweatshirt. But how did he get away with it?

The only company that took legal action was Marlboro. Shortly after releasing a red-and-white sweatshirt with the words “Lichtenboro” in a Marlboro-esque typeface, designer Brian Lichtenberg was sent a cease and desist letter by the cigarette company. “I was like, you’re not even a fucking clothing brand – where’s your sense of humour?” he sighs. “It was so lame.” He destroyed the sweatshirts.

You may not remember Lichtenberg’s name, but you’ll know his work: a playful oeuvre of sweatshirts with subverted designer (and sometimes cigarette company) logos, which enjoyed a robust period of popularity in the mid-00s before being copycatted and appearing on market stalls and Big Brother. The most popular was Homiés, a play on Hermès, although few designers were left unturned: Commes des Garçons, Chanel and Gucci all fell foul of Lichtenberg’s printer.

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