Street smart: Bangkok’s ice cool t-shirt trove

Street smart: Bangkok’s ice cool t-shirt trove

A mercifully air-conditioned cave of original t-shirt designs under the city’s highest roof
Bangkok t-shirts
A row of t-shirts at Kung Fu Master. Most of its designs feature Asian themes with a unique twist.

Sitting quietly underneath Bangkok’s current tallest building is an Aladdin’s cave for shoppers looking for the best in cutting edge t-shirt designs. In fact, the Baiyoke Garment Center below Baiyoke Sky Tower 2 on Rajprarop Road is actually the birthplace of many of the better t-shirt designs you’ll see in the stalls of JJ Market, Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Khao San Road and beyond.  

Bangkok t-shirtsA wall of tees at Graphic Playground.It takes a bit of an effort to find this place. At first glance this rather grubby looking shopping centre looks like it just offers the normal knock-off items that the Pratunam neighborhood is well known for. But persevere, brush past the fake Louis Vuitton bags and make your way up to the fourth floor.

Here you’ll find an amazing selection of t-shirt wholesale stores offering unique, original designs at some seriously knock down prices with the added bonus of some air-con thrown in for free. 

Smock is a perfect example, as it has stalls at Jatujak Market, Khao San Road and in Koh Samui and Chiang Mai and distributes as far afield internationally as Sydney and London. T-shirts fans will already be aware of some of their classic designs like the DJ series, which features the likes of Mao, Guevara, Bruce Lee and now Obama on the decks, and the in-your-face “Eat More Rice Bitch,” motif.

Opposite Smock you can find sister brand Lectro, whose collection is a mix of old school designs and tees featuring images of leading bands, models and pop stars -- apparently Lady Gaga is selling like hot cakes right now.  Next door is a store she’d love, Ray Girl, Ray Guy, which is full of vibrant neon numbers and funky electro designs -- perfect for that Gaga inspired 1980s look.

Just up the corridor is Kung Fu Master, which features a strong Asian theme to their designs, 80 percent of which are original creations. Japanese geishas, ninjas,kKoi carp and even the occasional panda all make an appearance, reinterpreted and given a uniquely artistic twist through blends of bold colors and intricate patterns.

Bangkok t-shirtsThe fourth floor of Baiyoke Garment Center is filled with t-shirt wholesale stores.Opposite that you can’t miss the massive split level store that is home to Graphic Playground and Melting Pot Design. With literally hundreds of tees to choose from there is a seriously dark sense of humor at work here. You can find everything from movie spoofs and environmental messages to political statements, many of them originals from the store’s comically creative (if a little twisted) design team. 

Twisted laughs and gothic bling

If you like designs with a quirky sense of black humor then you should also check out Immortal and 1979, which both seem to specialize in jokey takes on well-known images. Immortal also has a particularly nice line in tees featuring cutesy monsters in some unlikely settings. 

Rocky is another store whose t-shirts offer off beat humor that is a cut above. There’s the usual tongue-in-cheek pop and film related tees but they also do a nice line with more whimsical imagery and have a good selection of tees clearly inspired by graffiti artist Banksy.

If making a statement with a bit of bling is your thing head to Minute Mirth, which specializes in the Japanese designed but made-in-Thailand brand Shiroi Neiko. Lots of gothic fonts, gold and plenty of skulls are thrown in for good measure. Alternatively, you can step back in time with vintage style collegiate hoodies and of course tees on offer at the aptly named Old School right at the foot of the escalators. 

Whatever your style you’ll find a tee that fits, and at these prices why not wear it.

shop contact details

Baiyoke Garment Center at Baiyoke Sky Tower 2
222 Rajprarop Road, BTS: Chidlom

Smock
Shop  #222/486, tel +66 (0)81 424 7667. Email: tshirtsmock@gmail.com
Price: 200 baht for one piece, 120 baht for 10 pieces or more

Lectro
Shop #222/430, tel +66 (0)81 424 7667. Email: tshirtlectro@gmail.com
Price: 200 baht for one piece, 120 baht for 10 pieces or more

Ray Girl and Ray Guy
Shop #222/431, tel +66 (0)2 656 4297. Email: viewergirl@hotmail.com
Price: 250 baht for one shirt, from 110 baht for 10 pieces or more

Kung Fu Master

Shop #222/485.  Price: 180 baht for one piece, from 110 baht for 10 pieces or more

1979s
Shop #222/483, tel +66 (0)2 656 4347

Rocky
Shop #222/492, tel +66 (0)2 656 2562

Melting Pot Design/ Graphic Playground
Shop #222/428-9, tel +66 (0)2 656 3080

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