Punk Rock on 34th Street

My walk from the Herald Square subway stop to The Empire State Building (the headquarters of Graphic Universe) takes me through one of the most tourist-saturated areas in New York City. The block is lined with high-end clothing stores. Imagine my surprise to see a mannequin dressed in this shirt, on display in such a busy shopping district.

This might not mean much to you, but I was stopped in my tracks. Why was Forever 21 selling a Sniffin’ Glue shirt?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sniffin’ Glue, which I’m guessing is most people, it was influential but short-lived punk zine (published from 1976-1977). It was launched right on the heels of Punk, another definitive publication of the era. In 1976, punk rock was brand new. These publications helped define punk and gave it a wider audience. Zines were a very relevant form of communication during these years (you couldn’t find punk rock on TV, and there was no internet).

I like to say there’s no such thing as a famous zine, but Sniffin’ Glue might be an exception. It’s publisher, Mark Perry, initially put out print run of 50, but that soon grew to 15,000.

Perhaps the most important thing Sniffin’ Glue did was help instill the DIY attitude in the punk culture. For some, that is punk’s one, true defining characteristic. Mark Perry encouraged his readers to rip up his zines, and also to make their own.

To learn more about punk, check out these Lerner publications:

I’m curious to what type of audience would buy a Sniffin’ Glue shirt at Forever 21. I figure there are three categories:

Old punk rockers who read zines in the 70s.
Aspiring zine historians (that’s me!)
People who just think it looks cool.

I guess the real question is, should I buy the shirt?

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