Airbrushing is having a bit of a moment right now. Hairstylists are using spray paint techniques to add technicoloured patterns to barnets; nail artists are picking up those little handheld guns to spray trippy patterns onto fingertips. And as the eclectic, DIY, everything-everywhere-all-at-once fashion revolution continues to march full steam ahead, it’s beginning to pop up on clothes, too.
It makes sense. Once the kind of souvenir you might pick up after a trip to Disney World, airbrush T‑shirts deliver kitsch and nostalgia in equal measure – two things we seemingly can’t get enough of right now. And airbrushed pieces have been knocking around in the music world for years. Ye wore and sold airbrush-style tees in tribute to his mother Donda and Rob Kardashian at his Yeezy season three and The Life of Pablo listening party in 2016, for instance. Then, three years later, Normani broke the internet in a graffitied two-piece for the Motivation music video, which in itself was an ode to ‘90s and early-’00s pop icons. The look quickly spawned a number of customisable replicas on Etsy and probably also had a hand in inspiring Cardi B and Hot Girl Meg’s WAP merch. Nothing gets past us.
But that was a while ago now – time flies when you’re twerking through lockdown, eh? In 2022, the more traditional style of airbrush T‑shirts are certainly still around (see Kai-Isaiah Jamal’s Virgil Abloh tribute tee), but a set of emerging artists and streetwear connoisseurs are taking a different approach. From grungy motifs to surreal illustrations, their one-of-a-kind pieces bring new flair to the trend, eschewing graffiti lettering for artistic expression. Here’s where to get your hands on them.
If you’re after some grungier airbrush pieces to add to your wardrobe, look no further than Inez Valentine’s brand aircrush. Using a myriad of techniques such as stencils and freehand airbrushing on vests, T‑shirts and even underwear, her designs have a punk sensibility that go hand-in-hand with the feral mood that’s currently in the atmosphere. You can buy her pieces online or at THE FACE’s favourite spot in east London, Waste! Store.
iKeda Moody Golding
Another designer stocked by our friends at Waste!, artist iKeda Moody Golding illustrates her pieces with vibrant cartoons, upcycling clothing with uncanny faces, butterflies and flowers – sometimes all morphed into one. Dipping into a colour palette that ranges from soft pastels to bold pinks, greens and blue, her designs have a whiff of nostalgia, but are dominated by references to her own art. Get your hands on her designs online or in-store at Waste!, and keep your eyes peeled for more drops on her Instagram account.
Based in Thailand, poons-peeds’ pieces are the best of both worlds, featuring cutesy hearts and anime faces in emo shades of black, pink and green. And there’s more than just T‑shirts on offer, too. On their Depop store, you can find dresses, skirts and bags, meaning you can dress like a walking mural from head to toe.
Burn on Earth
Eleri Humberstone mainly sells secondhand pieces on her Depop account, but look a little closer and you’ll find airbrush tops from her brand Burn on Earth, which wouldn’t look out of place in a noughties Hot Topic. With slogans like “I’m sorry I’m this hot” and “Spoiled little brat” scrawled in neon pinks and greens, her approach to airbrushing nails both this trend and the current slogan tee explosion. Two birds, one tee.
One for the skaters, Creamy Studios gives old tees and hoodies a new lease of life with sprawling sprayed designs, which often cover entire pieces. With “mini drops” each Sunday, you can expect to see everything from demonic rabbits chomping on carrots to electrocuted skeletons crop up on their tees. Set your alarm and visit their website to scoop one for yourself.