Soul Tees started in Brighton, UK in 2007, completely by accident.
A need for space in our family storage unit led to a clearout of epic proportions, including box loads of merch acquired whilst working in various roles in the music industry over the previous 15+ years.
Up it all went on eBay, around 200 t-shirts of various designs, which led to a customer in Japan getting in touch wanting to buy the lot for his music cafe / record store. A deal was quickly agreed and off it all went to the Far East.
A couple of weeks later an email arrived from the Japanese collector. "I'm very happy" he said, "now can you get any of these?" He gave a list of about 20 extremely niche Northern Soul and Reggae labels, with prices he was willing to pay if we had them.
Since they were all really, really obscure and long since defunct I didn't have any of them, I searched for them online and couldn't see them anywhere, so couldn't help.
Then I had an idea. At university I worked one summer at a screen printing studio and I'd been trained in the noble art of serigraphy. Whilst I didn't have the equipment to make the silk screens to print the t-shirts, I knew what to do. I could probably get a basic set up that was just enough to do the job. I put my idea to the contact, he agreed.
Every couple of weeks I'd print a few of the designs from the list he wanted and send them off to Japan. Almost immediately though the arrangement ground to a halt. With screen printing the set up process for new designs is really expensive and time consuming to get going, the costs were nowhere close to being covered.
My contact made a suggestion, why don't you print a few extra to cover the costs, sell them on eBay UK and then send him the rest to sell in Japan? So with that Soul Tees was born - in 2007 - with a small store selling a tiny range of obscure and defunct Northern Soul and Reggae t-shirts on eBay.
Since the initial collaboration with the Japanese collector Soul Tees evolved into more a reflection of the music and popular culture that I like, a bit of everything. Funk & Soul, Disco, Hip Hop, Jazz, Reggae and Electronica. Things you crate diggers would like.
Although I stopped selling on eBay long ago, in June 2022 Soul Tees celebrated 15 years in business. From a dusty garage in Brighton to having regular customers from Reykjavik to Cape Town, Vancouver to Auckland, Tokyo to São Paulo.
I try to put up new designs every week, so if you don't see something you fancy now, try again in the future.