Custom Craze

Jeanette Wong and Will Zhou

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The evolution of custom attire and its effects at Paly 

Palo Alto High School students show off their custom clothing during Club Day.  “Wearing custom clothing makes your club or team look more legitimate and improves your overall swag,” junior James Wang said. Photos by Jeanette Wong.

Palo Alto High School students show off their custom clothing during Club Day. “Wearing custom clothing makes your club or team look more legitimate and improves your overall swag,” junior James Wang said. Photos by Jeanette Wong.

Walking around the Palo Alto High School campus, one cannot help but notice the plethora of custom clothing sported by the students.

From tie-dyeing T-shirts to designing clothing to dye for, as technology continues to advance, it has become easier than ever to make customized attire to promote and unify groups.

Sites such as DesignAShirt, Zazzle and CustomInk enable people to design and order products from virtually anywhere. The clothing is also relatively easy and fast to make.

According to junior Anna Lu who designed the Paly Debate team attire, it takes around 20 minutes to create a design and around two weeks to ship.
The availability of the latest T-shirt making processes seems to attract students.

“I think it’s more readily available and more people have noticed it and have gotten on that bandwagon of [making custom clothing for their teams]… over the last 16 years,” Paly receptionist Vallen Queen said.

New methods for creating attire has simplified the overall process.

“I would say that because of computers, we’re now able to print [shirts] directly from the computers which means that it’s a lot easier and cheaper to print small quantities of T-shirts,” said Randy Samuels, owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More of Mountain View. “In the past, most shirts were made with screen printing, which means you have to use films and… separate each color in your image. Every shirt needs to [be individually made] which means it can be more time-consuming.”

According to Samuels, the invention of new technology streamlines the price and decreases the cost of the production of a single T-shirt. Additionally, the larger the quantity of the order, the cheaper the price will be, according to Samuels.

The advanced process of T-shirt making opens doors for more opportunities of creative expression.

“When I was in high school the only clothes I ever made were crazy tie-dye shirts,” Paly librarian Rachel Kellerman said. “I thought the shirts [my son’s classmate made a few years ago] were very clever and creative. I like the fact that anyone with a design idea could sell a shirt.”

Whether it may be sports teams such as volleyball, cross country and cheer, or Paly clubs like YCS-Interact, Speech and Debate and Robotics, communities at Paly are taking advantage of the tools offered by custom wear.

According to junior Bethany Wong, custom clothing is an effective way for students to express their interests.

“In the case of my cross country sweatshirt, [it has a] somewhat sassy phrase on the back,” Wong said. “I’ve struck up conversations while wearing it as I went around Palo Alto because people mention how they were also on cross country in high school or that they have heard of our school.”

Custom clothing also brings a sense of unity to groups,according to Wong.

“It [custom clothing] is an excellent way to exhibit team or club unity on campus,” Wong said. “There’s also a certain coolness factor because each piece of custom clothing might be ‘limited edition’ and reminds you of the group of people in that club or sport.”

Custom clothing, however, can also create separate groups of unified students according to math teacher Suzanne Antink.

“Teen club T-shirts overall became a sort of ‘separating’ or divisive style among groups of students — a sort of labeling when none was needed,” Antink said. “However, as some clubs compete outside of school, like [for] Robotics, Debate, Scioly or Math, club members like to have a unifying team shirts.”

The Paly Voice asked a group of 25 sophomores, juniors and seniors at Paly and found that the students from this sample size had up to four pieces and spent up to $100 a year on custom wear.

As clubs and sports have started, students are excited to obtain their custom wear to represent the activities they participate in.

“I’m going to order a Speech and Debate sweater this year,” senior Dan Su said. “I’m really excited to represent the team I love.”