Ban T-shirts: Shirt Shop Interview

by on September 5, 2012

What’s the name of your shop? Your name? Your role?

The shop is called Ban T-shirts, I’m Duncan Carson and I design about 70% of the shirts, I designed the site and I do all the promo.

Why the name Ban T Shirts?

I wanted a name that was controversial sounding and also I liked the fact that it is a verb being used as name.

Where are you from/live now?

I live in the UK.

When did you launch your business?

Late 2008.

What was the inspiration for launching a t-shirt business?

I needed a creative outlet as my previous job was very technical and somewhat soul-destroying. I’ve also always held strong opinions, so this is kind of a combination of those two things.

What differentiates your shop from all the others on the Internet?

Most of the designs are unique to Ban T-shirts. I like to think I create political designs that don’t get old as quickly as many political shirts do. That’s one reason I don’t do many shirts based on individual people.

It’s pretty clear from the messaging on the top of your home page that “American made,” “sweatshop free,” “organic cotton,” and “you buy a tee, we plant a tree” are very important facets of the business. In other words, the environment, humane working conditions, and, keeping and supporting jobs in the U.S. are important. Why is that?

I always say the environment is more than just the environment, it is our home. The reason I care about the environment is the same reason I don’t shit on my doorstep – it’s where I live. In fact I don’t even like the word “environmentalist”, it’s just become a way to separate those people who care about where we live from those that don’t. Shouldn’t we all care?

Do you receive lots of hate mail and fan mail? I ask because it’s obvious you have a very strong point of view, and that tends to trigger more response out of Internet visitors.

I get hate mail – there is a page full of it here. In fact the hate mail even inspired one of my designs. I do also get fan mail sometimes, which is great. It’s nice to know I’m striking a chord with people enough that they would take the time to write (or buy a shirt, I guess!).

I imagine some of the designs are more contreversial than others. Which have brought the most discussion or vitriol?

Possibly the pro-choice shirt, which says “If you can tell me what to do with my body, can I tell you what to do with your bible?”. That’s got a lot of comments. Also the two shirts on the subject of immigration,
Illegal immigration started in 1492” and “Relax Gringo, I’m Legal.”

I’m glad to see there isn’t too much Democrats > Republicans stuff, because I think that’s all for show. Kabuki theater. For instance, I think the powers that be have already vetted Obama and Romney and don’t care who wins, because they’ll tow the corporate line (kind of like the corporate agenda plan a/plan b shirt). Do you agree?

You’re totally right – that is in fact why I made the Plan A, Plan B shirt. At the same time I do think that the Democrats are less brutal than the Republicans. The GOP just want to abandon all pretence of governing the country and hand it over to corporations. Both parties are on the same road, going in the same direction, it’s just that the GOP are driving much faster.

How’s business?

Up and down. For a number of reasons… the economy, less organic traffic from Google, etc etc.

How important is social media to your business?

It is fairly important. I spend a significant amount of time on Twitter which does help with sales, but it doesn’t really compensate for the amount of time I spend on there! I enjoy Twitter though so it’s fine.

What’s the weirdest picture of someone wearing one of your tees that you have seen? And/or have you run into a stranger out in the wild wearing one of your products? And/or celebrity sightings?

Possibly Mistress Clarissa wearing the F**K News shirt. I also interviewed her.

What type of person is a prime candidate to be a customer?

Anyone with an awareness of what is going on in the world and who can see past the mainstream media narrative.

Where do you get your designs?

Most of them are mine, I sell a few by Ryan Red Corn and a few by Ronald J Cala. Also the occassional other designer.

What kind of shirt stock do you use? Why?

Most are printed on Royal Apparel or American Apparel organic cotton shirts, US made. The quality is great, they have to abide by US laws regarding employment and they are organic.

Where do you see your business in a year?

I’m going to continue promoting Ban T-shirts, however I am in the process of designing shirts for a brand new site, totally non- political. Science fiction fans will like it.

What’s your favorite design currently?

Freedom is slavery.  People are constantly being told they are free yet all the evidence indicates they are losing their freedoms.

What sells more men or women’s shirts?

About 60-40 in favour of men’s.

Is there a specific subject matter that you sell most of?

Not really. I think it’s more important that the design is good. A shirt won’t sell well just because of the subject matter.

What are the top three selling designs at your store?

Bike fish, Dinosaurs Against Creationism and Illegal Immigration Started in 1492.

Is there any hope for the United States?


What does real progress look like to you?

I believe a healthy society is one where we look after those who are weaker than ourselves or less advantaged, and the planet. The tool this should be done through is government, it’s not acceptable for it to be done only on a voluntary basis. However individuals should also be encouraged to carry their weight. It should be made easy for individuals and groups to set up their own initiatives, co- operatives and businesses. Corporate influence should be limited, laws should protect citizens and the planet, not corporations.

Is the world going to end this year?

It’s unlikely. I give it another generation or two.

Anything else you want to add?

Just to say thank you for the interview and for the opportunity to inflict my view and designs upon an unsuspecting public.

Where can people find you?


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