Can you tell us a little bit about the background to DJTees
John: Myself and my
partner Dawn set up DJTees 10 years ago because no-one
designed t-shirts of the rock musicians we loved. Back then,
rock T-Shirts were just black and came in XL. We changed all
that doing up to 8 colours per design, offering 8 sizes, as
well as women’s skinny fits, long sleeves and hoodies. It was
Why is Retro in all its forms increasingly so popular these
John: Because to most
people, the present never seems as good as the past!
So who are your customers, where are they coming from and what
sort of feedback and comments are you getting from clients?
John: Unlike most
companies, we have a large amount of customers between 40 and
70 years old. These are the classic rock generation - it’s our
generation too, after all. I often get customers on the phone
talking about great gigs they’ve been to, or their favourite
albums, prompted by wanting to buy some of our designs. Our
work has always been driven by real passion for the music –
I’m writing this surrounded by 9,000 albums! – and I think
people can see that. Some are also just amazed that we
designed a T-Shirt of someone relatively obscure that they
What would you say is special about DJTees and has contributed
to your big success?
John: Well, it’s a fact
that I have an album by every single artist we have designed a
T-Shirt of, more usually I’ll have their whole discography;
from Allan Holdsworth to Aretha Franklin to Howlin' Wolf and
Humble Pie. So we like to think we know what vibe to try and
capture about an artist. We’ve also always worked with some
fantastic photographers to get images to base designs on;
that’s been both a privilege and great fun. We’ve now got such
a broad, eclectic range of work - I think that’s been a huge
asset along with simply offering everything in small to 5XL.
You have an extensive range of designs and styles. What ranges
tend to be the most sought after and the biggest sellers?
John: The funny thing is that we’ve never had one or two
really big sellers, our gig has always been selling small
amounts of the 1700+ designs we have created. Some of our most
popular T-Shirts are actually
of guitars, Flying V’s Les Paul’s and Stratocasters. We have
large ‘rock lifestyle’ section which has always sold well to
people in bands or who used to be in bands!
What do you most enjoy about running the DJTees business?
John: I love the
iconography of rock 'n roll and the passion that the music
creates. What we do is all about celebrating that. It all
comes from a place of great love. I genuinely mean that.
What are your personal Retro and Vintage passions John?
John: Vinyl albums. I’ve been
collecting since the early 70s and I love it with a passion.
To me, its not just the music in the groove, it’s the design
of the label, the artwork, how and where it fits into rock
history, what it says about the year it was made…..and so much
more. I bought 50 albums just last week…so I’m as crazy about
it now as I was when I bought my first Kinks single in 1971.
Where do you see the future for DJTees?
John: I think we’ll just
get broader and wider in our designs – probably do a lot more
obscure stuff and niche artists. We’ll probably be the only
people to design a T-Shirt of the bass player in Iron
Butterfly or something like that! I’d love to do a range of
designs of legendary producers like Eddie Kramer and Glyn
Johns. I reckon that’d be so cool. But then, I’m not normal!