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2K by Gingham: Artist-Driven T-Shirts

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Los Angeles blazes the trail when it comes to the t-shirt. The lightweight garment wears ideally for our SoCal weather, and it’s casual versatility is locked in a cultural groove. We’re home to the $1,850 t-shirt, numerous eye-sore trendy brands, and a slew of feaux-vintage, nearly-ironic t’s whose wearer looks the butt of a silent joke. Thankfully those aren’t our only options.

LA-based 2K by Gingham is an artist-driven t-shirt company whose clothes aspire to be contemporary art. Their shirts are even sold in museum stores. Check the tag on the shirt too. You’ll find a tale of the artist who designed it.

2K’s shirts, full of personality, and creative edge, won’t push you closer towards bankruptcy. The shirts are about $35 each, with some on sale for $20 via their website.

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LAist’s Lifestyle Editor Julie Wolfson recently had a chat with 2K boss Chang Ahn about what’s going on with 2K, how you can get involved, and where Los Feliz resident, Ahn, gets his grub on.

LAist: What is the philosophy of 2K by Gingham?

Chong Ahn: The idea is to get a somewhat non-directed, eclectic bunch of artists and art work. Most lines are unified and look a certain way, whereas our line is really about the individual artist.

How did 2K get started?

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We used to export shirts from museum shops in the US to Japan. In Japan there is a huge collectors market for t-shirts. A big thing for us was the metro and subway t-shirts from New York. That led to bringing in artist who had their own great ideas. We started producing our own shirts. At first we bought shirts and then printed them. That led to producing our own shirts here, dying them, and printing those.

Tell us about one of your favorite LA-based artists.

One local is Nick Egan. Nick is primarily a director now, but he got his start doing design. He is know for his album covers... The Clash, Sex Pistols, Bob Dylan, INXS, Psychedelic Furs, and many more. He brings a little bit of the Brit Punk to 2K and all from right here in LA.

What new things are happening at 2K?

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We have brought manufacturing from the east coast here to LA. We still get out cotton from Tennessee, but now it is all knit and whatnot here. Before we did it all in Tennessee. We work with two different factories out here. One turns the yarn into fabric. Another does the cutting and sewing. It's a whole new thing for us.

Are their new artists coming onto the 2K roster?

Always. We're a very global company and are always looking for new artists.

How do artists submit work to the company?

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Usually they send an email with a link to their relevant stuff with photos attached.

Despite the busy schedule of running 2K you must take some time to grub. Where do you like to eat?

For breakfast, (there is no place like) HOME, on Hillhurst. Not the place to go when you are in a rush, but if you have the time for a leisurely breakfast or brunch, its great. For Lunch, Yuca's -- classic taco stand. Little soft tacos, homemade salsa... just wonderful. Dinner... Tam O'Shanter in Atwater Village and Dresden on Vermont. Both are great places for a cocktail and a huge chunk of very rare red meat. And for dessert... House of Pie. Because, well its PIE. Mmmm pie.

  • Find 2K by Gingham online or locally: The MOCA Store, Fred Segal, American Rag CIE, Barneys, Giant Robot, Una Mae’s, Nordstrom, Orange County Museum of Art.
  • This summer 2K will be sponsoring an art show in Echo Park. Check back to LAist for more. T-shirt Photos Courtesy 2K by Gingham