Though the Cleveland Caucasians t-shit recently sported by ESPN’s Bomani Jones received notice in this space as far back as the summer of 2014 (“MLB’s Licensing Division, Unavailable For Comment”), Death Of Samantha/Cobra Verde frontman John Petkovic profiled the shirt’s creator, Brian Kirby in September of that year ; on Friday, Forbes’ Alex Reimer caught up with Kirby, who claims he can barely keep up with the new demand (““It seems like we’ve really struck a nerve…this proved the point of the shirt.”)
“Bomani Jones couldn’t have been a more perfect spokesman for the intent of the shirt,” Kirby says. “It’s not an angry thing, it’s more about making a point in a humorous way. It’s just holding up a mirror saying, ‘Hey, I’m wearing this and you’re broadcasting Indians games with the same kind of imagery. Why is this a problem and that not a problem?’ It’s about flipping the image on it.”
The ‘Caucasians’ shirt has gone viral before, including one day in 2014 when it was the No. 1 trending item on Reddit after a DJ for the Canadian-based electronic group A Tribe Called Red took to wearing it. But Kirby says his startup, which he runs out of basement with his wife when he’s not working as a digital marketer, has never received as much attention as it did Thursday.
Within 24 hours of Jones wearing the shirt, Kirby estimates he made 2,000 additional sales. Shelf Life Clothing’s website also crashed, because its hosting company couldn’t handle the onslaught of traffic and subsequently dropped it as a client. As of Friday evening, the site was still not fully restored.