Over the past three years, for one reason or another, I’ve always had at least one friend telling me that USI needed a gold foil tee. Usually, I entertained the idea for the sake of conversation, but politely declined from pursuing it further. My hesitation came from a nagging feeling that something about the gold foil was inherently anti-USI. We talked about giving them to rappers or throwing them out at clubs, but—despite my best efforts—none of my good friends (the people who really took USI from a simple shirt to a full-time company) were rappers or the kind of people who actually go to “clubs”. The USI crew—and the average Hoosier, I suspect—doesn’t believe that making something louder makes it more interesting. While the power of USI products had always been a certain simplicity that mirrored my uncomplicated pride and admiration for the state, dressing the USI flag up in eye-grabbing gold foil seemed unnecessarily emphatic. (“Hey! Over here! Look how simple and understated I am!”)
But then I talked to our screen printing wizards, Jeffrey and Derek, at the Art Press and asked what the process for printing a gold foil flag might be. It turns out the technique is complex, finicky, labor-intensive and usually results in a shirt or two (or five) getting worn home by one of us because the finished product wasn’t exactly right.
And that’s when a gold foil tee finally made sense for USI.
Three years and thousands of screen printed states and stripes later, the shirt lets us show that we’ll never stop pouring more time, energy and thought into designs and products we believe in. Yes, it’s loud, but it’s also undeniably interesting. It looks and feels unlike any shirt we’ve ever made. The idea wasn’t picked out of a catalog, but dreamed up and deliberated before we knew anything about how to actually create it, then created—through trial-and-error—while motivated by the satisfaction of holding in our hands exactly what we had dreamed.
I hope you are as intrigued by this new addition to the USI line as I have been throughout its creation.