What’s Hot on Wildwood Boardwalk T-Shirts in 2015
Wildwood boardwalk t-shirts are big business. Sure, you think it’s all “Senior Week 2015” and “I’m not as think as you drunk I am” shirts, but this is serious business. Not everyone can be Baruch Cohen and sell 6,480 different t-shirts at his boardwalk shop. For most shop keepers, it’s a cutthroat competition to sell shirts that tickle the fickle fancies of sunburnt, possibly drunk teenagers.
A store owner, who asked to remain anonymous, says it frequently includes underhanded tactics. “People steal my t-shirt designs all the time,” said the Wildwood store operator, who says he’s been in business for 10 years. “They come by, steal your ideas, then they’re selling the same shirt you had first.” (This is what he thought I was doing at first. I assured him I was a journalist doing my annual Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt column. “That doesn’t make any sense,” he said.) Considering that many of the “original” designs are indeed ripoffs of others’ intellectual property, you can’t feel too bad for the store owners. And now I’ve gone and published photos of the shirts on the Internet again, so maybe this column even adds another layer to the chaos among t-shirt operators. Maybe.
[Previous Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt columns: 2012 | 2013 (’13 Update) | 2014]
After four years of writing this column, I think that what I’m proudest of is that last year’s column actually spoiled the ending of Breaking Bad for someone. Let’s see if I ruin anything for you this year as I chronicle the hottest t-shirts on the Wildwood boardwalk.
Time was, the Wildwood Boardwalk only sold shirts saying you were someone’s “girl” (or, more depressingly, someone’s “property” or “bitch”). Things are a little more egalitarian nowadays. Virtually every conceivable niche has a shirt that shows you’re in a couple. There are even BFF shirts. There are brothers/sisters shirts. You used to just be able to show you were in a couple by making out at every bench on the boardwalk or on the Mariner’s Ferris Wheel. Now you get to advertise it on a shirt!
Internet memes began appearing on Wildwood boardwalk t-shirts as early as 2012, so it’s no surprise there are a ton of emoji t-shirts along the boardwalk this year. Yes, Wildwood has broken out into the realm that’s usually covered here by Emily Goulet at Shoppist: Poop emoji fashion. (I don’t think there are poop emoji shoes on the boardwalk yet, but give it a few months.)
Has the line been used endlessly in Instagram comments? Is it enough of a cliche that brands use it on Twitter? Then it’s probably on a Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt. I woke up like dis, ER MAH GERD, jussayin, even “bae.” They’re all here. I expect to see crying MJ and kermit sipping tea on the boardwalk by the end of the summer.
But a special award goes to “on fleek” (in the photo above over Superman’s eyes), the hot phrase of Wildwood boardwalk t-shirts in 2015. If you’re annoyed by this phrase, I might suggest you avoid the boards completely, as you won’t be able to avoid it.
Tattooed Disney Princesses
Thematically, these are likely an extension of the “tatted up Marilyn Monroe” t-shirt trend of the last few years. Specifically, they are a ripoff of the the designs of Twisted Apparel, a UK clothing shop that has a whole bunch of tattooed Disney characters. I am declaring Tatted Alice in Wonderland in a Jack Daniels t-shirt to be the official Wildwood shirt of the summer.
Sports Team Logos in Superhero Logos
Batman v. Superman isn’t coming out until 2016, but those superheroes’ logos are hot on the Wildwood boardwalk this summer. Virtually any sports team appears to be available in a Batman or Superman logo. Sorry, Marvel: DC Comics rules here, though there are a few Punisher/sports team mashups.
This shirt and phrase have been around for a while, but it’s everywhere at t-shirt shops in Wildwood this year. I’m not entirely sure why it’s seemed to explode onto t-shirt shops this summer, but if you want a shirt that combines the music of Tupac Shakur with a dog, Wildwood is your place to get it.
2015 Senior Week
I didn’t get a senior week t-shirt when I spent senior week in Wildwood, which is kind of disappointing. I could’ve had another t-shirt that doesn’t fit anymore taking up space in the back of my closet! In previous years, the “13” and “14” have stood in for the letters “B” and “H” in Senior Week shirts, but I guess “15” doesn’t spell anything out. Instead, you just get to reference weed on your senior week trip shirt.
“But,” you might be saying, “the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight was in early May! Surely no one will care about it this summer.” Ah, but once a t-shirt makes it on the Wildwood boardwalk, it’s very hard to get it off the boardwalk. You will be seeing Mayweather and Pacquiao shirts for sale all summer, perhaps in clearance bins.
If you want to warn of the Illuminati, the Wildwood boardwalk has a shirt for you.
The Latest in Drug Shirts
I realize “I’m in love with the coco” is a song lyric, but I expect by the end of the decade there will just be a shirt that says “I love to do cocaine” sold on the Wildwood boardwalk. On the other hand, that may have been a shirt when Scarface came out.
Be sure to note that horrifying shirt in the center, which is Mickey Mouse made out of a pill. Disney shirts are always popular, as are drug shirts! Why not?
The Latest in Flexing Shirts
Like a t-shirt being destroyed by giant muscles, flexing shirts have exploded across the Wildwood boardwalk the past few years. In 2015, they’ve hit critical mass.
Game of Thrones
There are fewer dragons and white walkers on the boardwalk than I expected — maybe HBO and George R.R. Martin are more protective — but if you look around, you’ll spot them. If you ask, I’m sure any shop will put “CALL ME KHALEESI” or whatever on a shirt for you.
Journalistic inquiry revealed this to be from The Fault in Our Stars. (Here’s the scene from the film.) What better way to enjoy the Wildwood boardwalk than with a shirt referencing a YA book filled with teen ennui and cancer?
Dan McQuade has been chronicling Wildwood t-shirt trends for Philadelphia magazine since 2012. Read his previous columns: 2012 | 2013 (’13 Update) | 2014. Follow @dhm on Twitter.