Surprising almost everyone, Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye has allowed officially licensed T-shirts to be sold at Urban Outfitters and select online retailers.
The decision to sell the T-shirts came about because of the large number of bootlegged Minor Threat shirts that had been circulating. "It's fucking absurd the amount of bootlegs that are out there [and] my time is better spent doing other things," the musician told the Washington City Paper. "It's not a political thing for me -- I just don't give a fuck about T-shirts."
MacKaye enlisted California-based company TSURT to produce the official merchandise. The company, founded by Blink-182 merchandise manager Chris Silgin, distributes their wares through Boompa.com. Silgin couldn't comment on their relationship with the band or label.
Minor Threat has a long history of attempting to control unlicensed merchandise. In 2009, Forever 21 had to pull a shirt from its shelves that used the band's name and imagery. A few years earlier, in 2005, Nike copied the cover of their first self-titled EP for a promotional poster that they were forced to take down.
Dischord Records is known for keeping their music and concert prices low as a matter of principle (the label's store currently lists Dischord album downloads for $7 and full CDs for $10) and MacKaye was quick to distance the label from the production of the T-shirts. The deal with TSURT doesn't apply to any of MacKaye's other bands or the rest of the label's roster.
MacKaye also doesn't completely approve of the move: "Do I think it's absurd? Yes, I certainly do. Motherfuckers pay $28; that's what they wanna pay for their shirts." A Minor Threat shirt runs for $28 on the Urban Outfitters website, and additional designs are available on Boompa.com.
Retailers have repeatedly run into trouble when attempting to use an artist's imagery in unofficial merchandise. Recently, Rihanna won a lawsuit against U.K. retailer Topshop for using her likeness. Earlier this year, indie rock band Yacht called out Kohl's for using their logo and lyrics on a shirt that was later removed from the retailer's website.
Billboard reached out to Dischord and Urban Outfitters for comment, but neither replied before press time.