Life is Good: How Good Vibes Won Fashion

Both Ross and Funk, who are in their 30s, were familiar with Life is Good when they were younger. “I mean, when that stuff was going on, I definitely thought it was lame,” Funk admitted. “It’s nice to realize that about myself now. Backpacks that are almost corny give you a positive message, which is a good thing to take. There’s a reason it exists. “

In the fashion-driven good vibe space, Online Ceramics is a clear frontrunner, with the foresight to realize, in 2016, that there’s room to reinvent something that once seemed out of place. Queen. “There are definitely shirts with positive messages. But it doesn’t really seem like a fun thing to do for a long time,” says Funk. “To be stylish, it has to be like, ‘I know more than you’ or ‘I’m tough,’ or something like that. We just said: ‘Wait. Nobody really does this in a modern way. ‘”

There are other current brands that stand out stylistically as more obvious descendants of Life is Good. Take Madhappy, which is less ironic and — in opting for a direct-to-consumer minimalist approach over a shaggy do-it-yourself aesthetic — is also seen as more corporate.

Madhappy was started by two brothers, plus two of their friends. When I spoke to 26-year-old co-founder (and one of his brothers) Noah Raf, the brand was in the midst of its fifth anniversary. Like Life is Good, they consider themselves driven by mission rather than apparel. “We’re trying to build an entire lifestyle brand around a broad spectrum of mental health: good, bad, bad, in between,” says Raf. A “Local Optimist” or “Treat Yourself Like Someone You Love” t-shirt will fetch you $165 and $155, respectively.

If mental health issues were once stigmatized, we should now discuss them openly. In a way, Madhappy can feel as if the Good Life has been run through the filter of today’s talk therapy. “I think this younger generation really fits how they feel,” says Raf. “We have been tending towards a more pristine place. Hence why TikTok is so big. LVMH, the French fashion group that owns Louis Vuitton and Dior, is so confident in its potential that it spent $1.8 million on Madhappy in 2018.

With these new brands getting so much love, I wonder if vintage Life is Good merchandise carries any cachet, even ironically. There are plenty of listings on eBay and even Grailed, but none of them really show it’s a hot item.

I consulted with writer Jonah Weiner, who often showcases classic ’90s tees in Blackbird Spyplane, the style newsletter he runs with his partner, Erin Wylie. It is also written with goofy, self-aware enthusiasm that captures the ethos of this particular moment. (“Remember us with the scenes from the WASHED WASHED WASHED WASHED WASHED by Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post about country life, honey, THIS IS the animation we were trying to live!!”, he recently said. wrote about Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea Bear.)

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