Design notes – Ski Squad

Posted by

It’s no secret that we like a bit of skiing here at T-lab. It’s not just the sliding down a mountain with equal parts joy and terror, it’s the whole Alpine winter thing.

Fresh air, stunning views, snow, mountainside cafés. Après-ski, vin-chaud, cheesy fondues and cheesier Euro-pop. There’s a lot to like!

That’s probably why we produce quite a number of ski and snow-themed t-shirts. They’re just an easy-going reminder of skiing fun.

For our Ski Squad design the brief was to create something that was a distinctive celebration of the Alpine region. We started with the flags of the four main European ski nations. Flags are potent graphic symbols. One simple square of shapes and colours carries a whole pile of visual and cultural associations.

Early roughs looked promising, but maybe a bit too much flag. T-lab t-shirts often need a bit of deciphering. So we started stripping back the flags, so that they were recognisable, but you had to look harder to see it.

We liked the last design shown above but without the colours, maybe a bit too tricky to decipher. So we rowed back just a little bit.

T-lab Ski Squad t-shirt

T-lab Ski Squad t-shirt

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Design notes – Ski Squad

Ski Squad

Posted by

A celebration of the Alps in which the flags of the four main Alpine countries are stripped back and pared down to a semi abstract but structured and colourful graphic design.

Our boyfriend fit is a classic mens cut worn as an oversized t-shirt. Tuck it in or let it flow – the choice is yours.

• 100% cotton Navy t-shirt
• Crew neck
• 40º machine wash

Posted in | Comments Off on Ski Squad

Ski Squad

Posted by

A celebration of the Alps in which the flags of the four main Alpine countries are stripped back and pared down to a semi abstract but structured and colourful graphic design.

• Heavyweight 100% cotton Navy long-sleeve t-shirt
• Crew neck
• Mens classic fit
• 40º machine wash

Posted in | Comments Off on Ski Squad

Ski Squad

Posted by

A celebration of the Alps in which the flags of the four main Alpine countries are stripped back and pared down to a semi abstract but structured and colourful graphic design.

• Heavyweight 100% cotton Navy t-shirt
• Crew neck
• Mens classic fit
• 40º machine wash

Posted in | Comments Off on Ski Squad

Ski Bar

Posted by

If you like your après-ski t-shirts on the distinctive side, take a look at Ski Bar. It’s a semi-abstract design looking down on the tracks that skiers make as they descend from all directions to their favourite end-of-day watering hole.

Ski Bar is also available as a  natural white short-sleeve here.

• 100% cotton chocolate brown shirt
• Classic fit
• 40º machine wash

Posted in | Comments Off on Ski Bar

Ski Bar

Posted by

If you like your après-ski t-shirts on the distinctive side, take a look at Ski Bar. It’s a semi-abstract design looking down on the tracks that skiers make as they descend from all directions to their favourite end-of-day watering hole.

Ski bar is also available in chocolate brown long-sleeve here.

• 100% cotton natural white shirt
• Classic fit
• 40º machine wash

Posted in | Comments Off on Ski Bar

Get him a gift that gets him

Posted by

The world would be a lesser place without Dads. The fixer uppers, the school runners, the cheerer uppers. So with Father’s Day approaching, we’ve been looking through our collection to pick out some designs that are particularly Dad friendly. So whether your Dad is a music lover, cycling fan, BBQ Star or travel enthusiast, you can get him a gift that gets him.

C90 – for Music Dad

T-lab-C90-mens-t-shirt-white-full

The name C90 comes from the 90-minute cassette format – just enough to get a full album on each side. (If you don’t know what an album is, ask your Dad.) It’s our retro-styled tribute to this brilliant piece of tech, which in its 1980s heyday was the world’s favourite music format and sold by the billion. You can buy C90 here.

BBQ Star – for BBQ Hero Dad

Nothing beats a good barbecue. And cooking well on a charcoal barbecue is something of an art form, although luckily its a skill that most Dads think they possess.

Well fair enough – our BBQ Star design is a tribute to all those charcoal-smudged, hot-handed heroes making it happen over a hot grill and a cold beer. You can buy BBQ Star, in Charcoal Grey or Sky Blue, here.

Tourmalet – for Cycling Dad

T-lab Tourmalet mens t-shirt yellow full

Our Tourmalet shirt is inspired by the legendary Col du Tourmalet cycling climb in the French Pyrenees. Topping out at 2,115 metres, Tourmalet is one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France, having been included more than any other pass.

Depending on your direction, Tourmalet is a 17-19km climb, with an average gradient of 7.4%. The pros can do it in about 1 hour. Your Dad – maybe a little longer. You can but Tourmalet, in yellow or blue, here.

Tuk Tuk – for Adventurer Dad

T-lab Tuk Tuk mens natural white t-shirt

Our Tuk Tuk t-shirt (or Autos, or Bajaji, or Rakshas depending on where you are) celebrates everything we like about these nippy and versatile little vehicles. Often customised by their owners, we love the way traditional Asian decor rubs shoulders with western-style ads for takeaway restaurants and mobile phones, creating a happy riot of mixed-media confusion. You can buy Tuk Tuk here.

T-120 – for Film Buff Dad

T-lab-T-120-mens-t-shirt-white-full

There’s something cool about recently-retro technology (OK, it could just be us. And your Dad.) – the world may have moved on from the video cassette, but T-120, with its promise of pure sound quality and glorious hi-tech TV test bars, is our tribute to this once-mighty technology. The colours look fantastic, and you can buy it here.

There’s lots more ideas for Dads in our mens t-shirt section, including t-shirts for car lovers, ski addicts, beach lovers and more here.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Get him a gift that gets him

BBQ Bling

Posted by

Who doesn’t love a good barbecue? The sun is shining, your friends are here, cold drinks, sizzling grill – it’s all good. And to enjoy all this you only need a basic piece of cooking equipment that you can buy for a few pounds at your local supermarket.

But that got us thinking. Supposing you wanted to push the boundaries. Suppose money was no object and you could buy any barbecue you wanted? What could you get? Here’s our guide to the best-looking BBQ’s and no expense spared.

Best for – minimalist style. Halo Cooltouch charcoal barbecue, £595

 

The British designed and built Halo Cooltouch features a triple skin construction which means that no matter how hot the inside gets, the outside always stays cool. As well as making it a very safe barbecue, the insulation also means that the Halo is incredibly fuel efficient.

The elegant, minimalist styling also makes it a favourite in the media, with Esquire magazine calling it ‘The trendiest barbecue on the planet.’

See more at www.notonthehighstreet.com/haloproductdesign

Best for – no-frills style. Buffalo charcoal barbecue, £239

The Buffalo has a tough, form-follows-function style, which we like. Made from no-nonsense stainless steel it’s got a long, dual zone cooking area so you can cook lots of different food, at lots of differing heat levels. And when you’re done, you can dissemble it into pieces and carry it away.

See more at www.nisbets.co.uk

Best for – luxurious style. Quan Quadro premium rolling kitchen, £6,876

Made by Polish ‘Garden Art’ company Quan, the Quadro premium rolling kitchen is a mini outdoor kitchen on wheels, featuring a BBQ grill, washbasin and even a water heater. Its sleek styling gives it a clean contemporary look, a long way away from the traditional barbecue. At almost £7,000 it isn’t cheap, but we’re just looking. For now…

See more at www.qubox.co.uk

Best for – most knobs and buttons. Napoleon Prestige Pro 825 RSBI, £4,999

Made in Canada, the gas powered nicely over-the-top Prestige Pro 835 features enough cooking space to cook 51 burgers simultaneously. It also has interior oven lights, an integrated ice bucket, Jetfire ignition, a power sideburner and backlit glow-in-the-dark cooking controls. If you want to be the barbecue Daddy, this is your machine.

See more at www.napoleon.com/en/uk/

Best for – cool factor. everdure by heston blumenthal FUSION Electric Ignition Charcoal BBQ, £799

Here at T-lab, if something looks good, then it’s off to a flying start. And we love the way this barbecue looks. It could easily be mistaken for a modernist hi-fi system with its brushed metal pedestal, matt black surround and minimalist switches. Created by British wunderchef Heston Blumenthal the FUSION features an electronic Fast Flame ignition system that makes it ready to cook in 10 minutes. And, did we mention, it looks very, very cool. It’s our favourite.

See more at www.johnlewis.com and www.everdurebyheston.co.uk

Check out our BBQ Star t-shirt, available in charcoal grey and sky blue, here.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on BBQ Bling

BBQ Star

Posted by

Nothing beats a good barbecue. But cooking well on a charcoal barbecue is something of an art form, although luckily its a skill that nearly all men think they possess.

Well fair enough – our BBQ Star design is a tribute to all those charcoal-smudged, hot-handed artisans making it happen over a hot grill and a cold beer.

The design is inspired by the hot coals of the BBQ blended with a contemporary star image – making it ideal for lazy days around the barbeque, or for beach and festival wear.

Shown here in sky blue, BBQ Star is also available in dark grey.

Screen printed in the UK onto a soft 100% cotton shirt.

Posted in | Comments Off on BBQ Star

BBQ Star

Posted by

Nothing beats a good barbecue. And cooking well on a charcoal barbecue is something of an art form, although luckily its a skill that most men think they possess.

Well fair enough – our BBQ Star design is a tribute to all those charcoal-smudged, hot-handed artisans making it happen over a hot grill and a cold beer.

The design is inspired by the hot coals of the BBQ blended with a contemporary star image – making it ideal for lazy days around the barbeque, or for beach and festival wear.

Shown here in dark grey (to hide those charcoal smudges) it’s also available in sunny sky blue.

Screen printed in the UK onto a soft 100% cotton shirt.

Posted in | Comments Off on BBQ Star

A brief history of the t-shirt

Posted by

With over 2 billion sold world-wide every year, the t-shirt is the most popular single piece of clothing on the planet. T-shirts are so popular now that we take their free and easy style for granted. So why did the t-shirt become so popular – and where did it come from?

The first recognisably modern t-shirt ( crew neck, shortsleeve, cotton, no buttons ) was originally designed to be worn as an undershirt or vest. In the early 1900s the US Navy began issuing t-shirts to its sailors to be worn underneath their uniforms. In warmer climates sailors would often remove the top half of their uniform leaving just the t-shirt, which was much cooler for toiling under a hot sun. The comfort and practicality of the t-shirt soon caught on and before long all branches of the armed forces were using them – but still as undershirts designed to be worn beneath uniforms.

The idea of the t-shirt as a practical working top quickly spread and by the 1930s labourers and farmhands across the USA could often be seen wearing t-shirts – but only for working. The t-shirt was still primarily seen as a working or undershirt.

The first magazine cover to show a printed t-shirt – Life Magazine, July 1942, featuring Corporal Alexander  le Gerola of the US Air Corps

 

That view began to change slowly following the second World War, when veterans wore their t-shirts as outer shirts with their uniform trousers. But the big change in attitude followed the 1950 film A Street Car named Desire, starring Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, a working-class tough guy. In the film Brando is repeatedly seen wearing his t-shirt on its own, not as an undergarment. The film’s gritty nature combined with Brando’s smouldering performance made the film popular with young audiences, who began to copy Brando’s look.


In 1950, nobody rocked a t-shirt like Brando

 

As the older generations thought of t-shirts as working clothing only, not fit for ‘normal’ wear, so wearing one became a small act of rebellion. The look was further boosted in 1955 when cinema icon James Dean wore t-shirts shamelessly in Rebel without a Cause.

By the 1960’s t-shirts were worn by millions around the world and the t-shirt became known as a free, easy going piece of clothing associated with youth and freedom.

It’s only rock’n’roll but we like it. 1970’s Rolling Stones shirt.

 

Wham! Katharine Hamnetts bold graphic oversized designs re-booted the t-shirt in the early 1980’s

 

T-shirt’s with suits! Uber-popular 1980’s TV show Miami Vice took t-shirts to new sartorial heights

 

Businesses of course were keen to get in on this youthful act, and it wasn’t long before t-shirts with company logos and slogans began appearing, followed by rock t-shirts, political t-shirts, anti-war t-shirts and hippy tie-dye t-shirts. The t-shirt had become a medium of personal expression – you could use it to say who you were and how you felt.

The main method of printing on t-shirts has traditionally been screen printing but recent advances in technology mean that t-shirts can now be digitally printed – allowing for shorter print runs and personalisation. This means there are now t-shirts for hen-nights, stag-nights, birthdays, charity events, group holidays – you name it, there’s a t-shirt for it.

T-shirts for every occasion. Inbetweeners movie 2011

 

More than just a piece of clothing, the t-shirt has become a personal statement. Over two-thirds of us own eight t-shirts or more, and 80% of us admit to owning an old one that we just can’t let go of.

It’s the idea of a t-shirt as personal canvas that inspires us at T-lab. Just like some of the great t-shirts of the past we like our t-shirts to communicate a passion or interest – whether its for sport, or a hobby, or just good times, we create t-shirts that allow the wearer to visually express a little bit of who they are.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on A brief history of the t-shirt

Press

Posted by

PRESS

“There’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about” – Oscar Wilde

Stuff.TV
The Times Saturday Magazine
The Telegraph Ski & Snow Magazine
‘T-lab – off the wall but always tasteful”
Beyond Bespoke
Octane Magazine
“Bold use of shape and colour”
Telegraph.co.uk

The Times Saturday Magazine
Posted in | Comments Off on Press

Paris-Roubaix – cobbles and chaos.

Posted by

Paris-Roubaix is one of the 5 classic cycling ‘monuments’, with a rich history of heroism, derring-do, pain and drama.

The first race ran in 1896 – it was started by two Roubaix businessmen trying to drum up interest in a Velodrome they had just built there. That race was won by a German, Josef Fischer, with local hero Maurice Garin finishing third – although Garin did manage to win the 1897 race. The crowds in the Roubaix Velodrome were visibly shocked at the appearance of the riders caked in mud and grit.

The race now starts from Compiègne north of Paris but has always finished in the Velodrome at Roubaix. The course can vary slightly from year to year but is usually 250-260 km long and includes 50-55kms of cobbled road sections.

It’s these cobbled roads that give the race its legendary status. Rough and unpredictable at the best of times, the cobbles are greasy and slippery when wet and throw up blinding dust when dry. It means the best laid plans and tactics can go wrong instantly, teamwork is less predictable and its often individual acts of strength that win the race. They also make watching the race an intense and gripping experience.

The race is popularly known as ‘The Hell of the North’, which many people think refers to the hellish riding conditions – but the truth is somewhat more poignant. In 1919, after the horrors of the first world war, a group of race organisers set out by car from Paris to Roubaix, to see if the course was still viable. The scenes of utter desolation that confronted them led one of the party to declare that they had truly entered hell.

Nonetheless the race went ahead in 1919, with the winner Henri Pélissier dedicating his victory to his fallen comrades.

By the 1960’s many of the cobbled roads were being resurfaced, and the cobbles began to disappear. Fearing for the future, followers of the race got on their bikes and hunted down little-known cobble roads to add to the route.

This eventually led to Les Amis de Paris-Roubaix in 1983, a group of enthusiasts determined to preserve the unique character of the race, and who still help to maintain vital sections of the course today. Their job has become easier with time – Alain Bernard, President of ‘Les Amis’ said in 2007:

“A few years ago, there was barely a village or an area that wanted anything to do with us. If Paris–Roubaix came their way, they felt they were shamed because we were exposing their bad roads. They went out and surfaced them, did all they could to obstruct us. Now they can’t get enough of us. I have mayors ringing me to say they’ve found another stretch of cobbles and would we like to use them.”

The gruelling course provides unique technical challenges and in recent years special Paris-Roubaix bikes have been constructed with strengthened frames, gears, wheels and tyres.

But the race remains a unique challenge calling for large amounts of skill, strength and fortune. Perhaps rider Sean Kelly best summed it up when he said “Paris-Roubaix is a horrible race to ride but the most beautiful one to win.”

You can take a look at our Paris-Roubaix shirts here.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Paris-Roubaix – cobbles and chaos.

Skye Electric Indigo

Posted by

Skye’s long neck and long ribbed cuffs and hem add a defined, elegant profile to a classic knitwear design.

Dress it up with skirts and sparkle, dress it down with shorts and bangles – the understated design makes it a supremely versatile addition to your summer wardrobe.

Skye is beautifully made in Scotland using a seamless knitting technique that makes it ultra comfortable to wear and reduces yarn waste.

• 100% lambswool
• Seamless knit
• Mid-weight
• Hand wash

 

Posted in | Comments Off on Skye Electric Indigo

T-lab pop-up collaboration

Posted by

Pop-ups are a great way for smaller brands to collaborate and get a high-street presence so we were delighted when the guys at Hatch Label asked us to join in with their latest venture – London’s only ski pop-up.

We’ve joined a fun and creative collective of emerging winter-wear brands from all around the world. From technical wear, to our own après-ski casual and knit wear.

Sited at 48 Mortimer Street, London, our best selling Ski Squad, Telecabine, Ski Tripper, Radio Alpes designs join

Fera Ski from California / outerwear
Orsden from Vermont / outerwear
Panda Optics from here in the UK / goggles
Snow Angel Australia, Snowy Mountains / base layers
Eisbaer hats, Austria / accessories
J Lindeberg, Stockholm / outerwear
Huski / outerwear
Darn Tough Vermont / socks
CP Helmets / helmets

For more info or to collaborate with T-Lab, drop us a line to reception@t-lab.eu

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on T-lab pop-up collaboration

pop-up shop

Posted by
We love wintersports! Ski and snowboard fans are treated to a line up of independent clothing brands at London’s only ski pop-up this winter.
 
T-Lab have joined this fun and creative collective of emerging winter-wear brands from all around the world at London’s only ski pop-up this winter. The collection covers a range of technical ski-wear as well as our own après-ski casual and knit wear.
 
Hosted by Hatch Label at 48 Mortimer Street, London, our best-selling Ski Squad, Telecabine, Ski Tripper, Radio Alpes designs join:
 
Fera Ski from California / outerwear
Orsden from Vermont / outerwear 
Panda Optics from here in the UK / goggles
Snow Angel Australia, Snowy Mountains / base layers
Eisbaer hats, Austria / accessories
J Lindeberg, Stockholm / outerwear
Huski / outerwear
Darn Tough Vermont / socks
CP Helmets / helmets

To see our ski and snow collection click here.
For more info or to collaborate with T-Lab, drop us a line to reception@t-lab.eu
Posted in | Comments Off on pop-up shop

Torino ’06

Posted by

Torino ‘06 refers to the twentieth Olympic Winter games held in the City of Turin and its surrounding mountains, with the home country of Italy hauling in their second-highest ever tally of Gold medals.

The embroidery adds a highlight flash of colour to a smart black organic mid-weight zipped-sweat top, with a slightly fitted cut (ie not baggy) and neatly detailed collar and cuffs. The outer is finely woven giving a high quality smoother finish, with a softer fleece inner.

• 85% organic cotton, 15% polyester

Posted in | Comments Off on Torino ’06

Grenoble’68

Posted by

It’s subtle, but the French flag, ‘68 numerals and embroidered G on the sleeve refer to Grenoble ‘68, the tenth edition of the Olympic Winter games where Jean-Claude Killy cemented his legendary reputation by winning three gold medals in front of an adoring home crowd.

The embroidery adds a highlight flash of colour to a smart navy-blue organic mid-weight zipped-sweat top, with a slightly fitted cut (ie not baggy) and neatly detailed collar and cuffs. The outer finish is finely woven giving a high quality smoother finish, with a softer brushed-fleece inner.

• 85% organic cotton, 15% polyester

Posted in | Comments Off on Grenoble’68

Zeroº

Posted by

A sporty, colourful, retro-infused look at 0º – the point at which everything changes. Water changes to ice, rain changes to snow. Everything gets slippy and snow fans start to think about mountains.

• 100% cotton t-shirt – deep purple
• Crew neck
• Boyfriend fit

Posted in | Comments Off on Zeroº

Zeroº

Posted by

A sporty, colourful, retro-infused look at 0º – the point at which everything changes. Water changes to ice, rain turns to snow. Everything gets slippy and snow fans start to think about mountains.

Screen printed onto 100% heavyweight cotton navy blue long-sleeve top.

Posted in | Comments Off on Zeroº

Zeroº

Posted by

A sporty, colourful, retro-infused look at 0º – the point at which everything changes. Water changes to ice, rain changes to snow. Everything gets slippy and snow fans start to think about mountains.

Posted in | Comments Off on Zeroº

Après Ever After

Posted by

A bold, mountainous letter ‘A’ and type in energetic pink and burnt oranges lets you show your appreciation for the fun, adventure-telling part of any good skiing day.

• 100% organic soft cotton top. 

• 40º machine wash

Posted in | Comments Off on Après Ever After

Aosta

Posted by

Our Aosta design is a chunky retro wintersports look for après-ski or snug casual wear throughout winter. It’s our first  seamless winter knit using a soft, 100% 6 ply lambswool yarn. We’ve chosen four T-Lab jellybean colours to make a cool diamond yoke. Finished with rib-knit neck, cuffs and hem. Spun and knitted in Scotland by traditional, family-run manufacturers.

• Cool hand-wash
• 100% lambswool

Posted in | Comments Off on Aosta

Iona

Posted by

For casual summer wear, here’s Iona, our supersoft cotton knit.

Made in Scotland from 100% soft cotton yarn, this tunic top works equally well over a pair of shorts or a flowy maxi skirt. Iona’s loose box-cut style with rolled neck, cuffs and hem has a beautifully soft-but-light feel.

Available in two colours – natural white as shown here, and charcoal blue.

• 100% cotton
• Rolled neck, hem and cuffs
• Beautifully made in Scotland
• 40º machine wash, do not tumble dry

Posted in | Comments Off on Iona

A brief history of the UK coffee bar

Posted by

It’s easy to see that the UK is in the middle of a coffee boom. No town or city centre high street is complete without at least one coffee bar – often a lot more.

It wasn’t always like this, in fact it’s really only happened over the last 15-20 years – so what’s happened to put the coffee bar so firmly back on the map?

Britain had its first coffee boom back in the 17th century. England’s first coffee house opened in Oxford in 1650. By 1675 there were over 3,000 nationwide (in a country with a population of just 5 million).

Coffee houses became sociable meeting places, where artists, writers, businessman and politicians could meet and discuss the ideas of the day. In fact they became so popular that Charles II tried to suppress London coffee houses as “places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers” The suppression didn’t work, and the public continued to flock to coffee houses.

Coffee houses weren’t popular with everyone however. Women in particular (women were generally banned from coffee houses) saw them as taking away their menfolk. Some politicians were wary of them, the church was suspicious of them and the ale houses didn’t welcome the competition.

As the industrial revolution took hold and social habits changed the coffee houses began to decline. Some of the more upmarket ones became gentleman’s clubs, some of the more downmarket ones reverted to ale houses. The new fashion of tea drinking, a drink that could easily be made at home, also contributed to the decline and by the end of the 19th century most British coffee houses had gone – although they remained popular in continental Europe.

Coffee houses, now called coffee bars, began their revival in the 1950’s. Rising post war affluence meant that young people had more independence, and they wanted their own space away from the restrictions of a parental eye. Coffee bars, particularly in London’s trendy Soho, provided the answer. Coffee bars once again became spaces for people to meet and socialise, although their increase in numbers was quite low.

The real push came later, from the US. Just like in the UK coffee bars had become meeting places for young people, often hosting musical events and open mic nights, with Bob Dylan famously starting his career in the coffee bars of Greenwich village.

Meanwhile, over in Seattle, three ex-University of San Francisco students were looking for a name for their new coffee bar. They settled on Starbucks. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle in March 1971.

Starbucks standardised the espresso bar format and exported it around the world. Italian in origin, the espresso bar format consists of a long coffee bar with an espresso beans-to-cup machine and display cases of pastries, cakes and biscotti. Coffee drinks are based around espresso shots, adding more milk, more foam, different flavourings etc. Starbucks added in soft furnishings and muted colours to make the surroundings feel more luxurious and the rest is history. There are now over 20,000 Starbucks branches around the world.

 

Starbucks arrived in the UK in 1998 and their instant success caused many people to sit up and take notice. Local rivals in the form of Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero soon sprang up as more and more coffee bars started appearing on British high streets. At the start of 2000 there were approximately 6,000 coffee bars across the UK. By 2018 their number had grown to over 20,000.

It wasn’t just the big multi-nationals getting in on the action. Small, artisanal owner-occupied coffee bars also began springing up. Often run by coffee enthusiasts, with their own preferred bean suppliers and their own unique roasting methods these smaller bars are helping to keep café culture cool and varied.

Why are so many people spending more and more time enjoying a coffee in their favourite local coffee bar? There’s no one overriding reason, rather a collection of smaller ones. It certainly isn’t just the coffee – that’s been around for centuries. Although, in the UK at least, the quality of coffee on offer has increased enormously from the lukewarm weak brown instant stuff on offer not so many years ago.

The coffee bar has once again become a social hub. A place to treat yourself, meet friends, chat, have a mini-break and forget about your day-to-day worries. Other reasons put forward for its revival include:

• Coffee bars are now designed as sociable spaces, not just somewhere to consume coffee, with more welcoming interiors, soft furnishings, and restful muted colours.

• More female and family friendly than pubs

• A chance to work away from the office, with free wi-fi. Although interestingly some smaller independent bars have gone in the opposite direction and banned wi-fi, to make it a more complete break from hustle and bustle

• Internet shopping means high street shoppers have more time to socialise and a coffee break has now become an integral part of many people’s shopping trips.

The coffee bar is firmly back on the UK map and although for some years now pundits have been asking if the UK has reached ‘peak coffee’, sales are showing no sales of slowing. Over the last five years sales through UK coffee bars have increased by over 37%, and current forecasts are for this rate of growth to continue, with sales reaching over £4 billion pounds  a year by 2022.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on A brief history of the UK coffee bar

SuperCircuits Series – design notes

Posted by

At T-lab we like to put a bit of ambiguity into our graphic t-shirts. So its not always immediately clear what the design is about. We do it because its good to have a design that’s thought provoking, and also it gives us some freedom in our design, so we can produce something that looks different.

Our SuperCircuits series has been a great success – and it uses this same approach. We wanted to create a t-shirt that said ‘motorsport’, but not in too obvious a way. The design uses shapes, hints and suggestions to explain itself.

 

Anatomy of a SuperCircuit design…

 

Our first SuperCircuit shirt used the Italian temple of speed, Monza, as a starting point.

The first thing to catch the eye is the outline of the track. Some petrol-heads will recognise it as Monza, but there are plenty of car fans out there who won’t (we know, we’ve asked). So, first question, is it Monza, is it even a race track?

At the top of the design is a big M. Could M stand for Monza? So its a clue (we’re beginning to sound like Keith Lemon).

Next along – ‘pista veloce’ is that Italian? If so, another hint. (It is Italian – it means ‘high speed track’). And then, well, a map of Italy. So it probably is Monza, but most people won’t have got all the clues and will have had to do a bit of detective work to get there. And you might feel like asking the wearer, just to be sure. So not only a great looking t-shirt – it’s also a conversation starter : )

Finally the track itself is coloured like the Italian flag. This adds colour and spark to the t-shirt. The Tricolore always looks good and it carries with it a whole host of cultural connotations, especially when connected with anything motorsport.

Each of our SuperCircuit shirts has some small variation on this design, but they always follow the same overall theme – a good looking shirt that needs to be looked at more than once to be understood. Different people could look at it and come away with different conclusions – like an abstract painting.

And that’s a good thing.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on SuperCircuits Series – design notes

It’s a gift

Posted by

Christmas comes at a very handy time for skiers and snowboarders. Just as they’re thinking about any new gear they might need, along comes the season of gifts.

So its very timely then that Cat Weakley at The Telegraph has put together this great Christmas gift guide. Featuring everything from hi-tech ski poles to ergonomic boxer shorts, its an imaginative and insightful range of ideas.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will quickly spot our very own Télécabine t-shirt, sitting cooly at the top of the list.

Well, if you want to get to the top its always good to have a lift…

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on It’s a gift

Indian essentials

Posted by

Its nice how the internet connects us all sometimes. It all started with a tweet from one of our customers showing one of our shirts. Next thing we know evo India are on the line asking if they can feature some of our stuff. A couple of emails later and we’ve got Pista Veloce and Test Ultime sitting pretty on the Essentials page of the leading car mag, in the world’s most populous country. Cheers, guys!

T-lab evo India

T-lab evo India

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Indian essentials

Up against the wall

Posted by

The idea of producing posters actually came from our customers. We had numerous requests asking us if our t-shirts designs could also be had as posters.

OK, we thought, why not?

We chose A2 size prints (594 x 420mm), big enough to make an impression but not so big you can’t find anywhere to hang them.

We took four of our most popular designs (Eau Rouge, Parabolica, CSL and Endurance) and, because we liked how it looked, added in subtly gradated backgrounds. Then we went to our favourite printers and asked them to carefully litho-print them onto high quality heavyweight matt white art paper.

The end results – striking, crisp and richly coloured, looked fantastic, so we will no doubt be adding more posters to our range in the future.

Poster EndurancePoster Eau RougePoster CSLPoster Parabolica

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Up against the wall

Are we there yet?

Posted by

This is the road to the Japanese ski resort of Niseko. Something tells me they’re going to have a good season.

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Are we there yet?

Jump to it

Posted by

Coming soon – our ‘Great bends of the world’ series has taken an Alpine turn, with the introduction of two new ski-themed t-shirts. The shirts feature two of the most iconic jumps in the mens downhill series – Hundschopf (dogs head) at Wengen and Mausefalle (mousetrap) at Kitzbühel.

028 Mausefalle

 

Posted in Lab notes | Comments Off on Jump to it