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Affliction Is The New Big Trend In Vintage

The Thread

It’s hard to ignore the booming resurgence of Affliction, a brand that originally targeted tough guys, rock ‘n’ rollers, MMA enthusiasts, and guidos. Today, it has become the “it-brand” for high schoolers across America. Vintage markets this spring have been inundated with 16-year-olds searching for the perfect Affliction tee to pair with their JNCOs. For those of us old enough to remember 9/11 this may seem odd, for the past decade, Affliction has been a cultural touchstone of bad taste, and for me personally conjures images of small-town douchebags, lifted trucks, and Monster Energy drinks. However, if you take a step back and view it with fresh eyes, the brand features objectively impressive designs and intricate manufacturing processes. Similar to the all-over print over the top liquid blue and grateful dead shirts, this sense of craftsmanship and unique brand identity has inevitably led to “vintage” Affliction becoming desirable. All it’s taken is a new generation of fashion lovers to recontextualize the garments into their Harajuku and Jesse Pinkman inspired wardrobes.

The brand is mostly known for its t-shirts which feature dark gothic imagery, intricate ornaments, woodcut linework, prints across the shoulders, graphic and garment distressing, rhinestones, garment dyeing, and splatters—often all at once. The shirts are custom-sewn, dyed, and distressed by specialty manufacturers and wash houses. While the aesthetic may not be universally loved, it is hard to argue against the attention to detail and quality of the clothing. 

Affliction was founded in 2005 by Courtney Dubar, Eric Foss, Clifton Chason and Todd Beard, who were inspired by the raw spirit of rock music and mixed martial arts (MMA). From the start the goal was to create premium clothing with an attention to design, fit, fabric and wash. Affliction’s initial rise to fame was bolstered by its association with the MMA community. The brand sponsored fighters and events, and even had special lines for sponsored fighters, making it a staple in the wardrobes of both athletes and fans. This connection to the high-energy, aggressive world of MMA solidified Affliction’s reputation as a brand for the bold and fearless.

In addition to its MMA roots, Affliction also became a favorite among rock musicians and fans. The brand’s edgy designs and luxury price tags, $58 in 2005 money $90 when converted for inflation, resonated with stars, and many musicians proudly sported Affliction gear both on and off stage. Their 2005 website has a whole section dedicated to celebrities wearing the shirts. Everyone from Joe Rogan to Samuel Jackson to Skrillex to Sandra Bullock. The brand was huge.

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