by Tom Stratton

Animals & Tie-Dye - The Art of Mountain Tees

I’ve been thinking a lot about those animal prints you see all the ...
Animals & Tie-Dye - The Art of Mountain Tees
The nineties were an odd time that spilled into the early 00s. Fashions were strange, everything was a little bit over the top, and lots of things didn’t make sense (I’m thinking mostly about Aqua and The Vengaboys) but things were also great (I’m thinking mostly about Aqua and The Vengaboys). Now if you shop vintage you’ll have seen lots of things that are downright confusing but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about those animal prints you see all the time. Who are they made for? Were they made ironically? Well after a bit of digging around I’m fairly convinced there’s not one dot of irony in them which, for me, makes them all the more strange and desirable.

Weird by Design

The main ones I’m thinking about are made by The Mountain and usually mix some sort of animal scene with a tie-dye background. They sort of look like those pictures of faeries you get in middle-aged pagan women’s houses (again, unironically). To add to this weirdness I tried to look up The Mountain and their information is fairly vague: they set up in the early 90s, like animals, and work with different artists on their designs. That’s about all I can tell you. Also they’re still producing the same sorts of prints that you often find when shopping. 
I thought instead I’d just look around here and find some of my favourite ones. It’s left me even more confused but made me fall in love with every one of them to the point I think The Mountain might now be my favourite clothing brand. Here’s a few absolute bangers featuring animals, religious imagery, something else I can’t work out, and of course tie-dye.

Loads of Cats and a Few Butterflies 

So many cats! So many in fact that you almost miss those majestic butterflies they seem fully at peace with. I’ve seen cats round insects and they don’t look this peaceful. Hats off to the self-restraint shown by all ten of these cats. They also seem pretty happy stacked up like that. Good lads. Also, did you know? A group of kittens is called a kindle. Nearly as cute as this work of art that, isn’t it. 

Dolphins Catching Some Rays 

Here’s some happy little dolphins in an almost biblical scene of sunshine. Are they in water still? Can they fly? There’s bubbles but also what seems like a forest behind them. Usually I’d guess that they’re underwater, they’re dolphins after all, but I’ve seen lots of these t-shirts and they’ve honestly made me doubt lots of things. Surreal and inspiring.  

Penguins Looking a Bit Lost in Their Natural Habitat 

I’ve just realised I’ve claimed that they’re in their natural habitat but y’know what? There’s loads of species of penguin, they’ve even got them in Australia and these ones don’t look far off a couple of their species. I think I’ve judged this one all wrong. It is in fact ‘Penguins Looking a Bit Lost’ because they are a bit lost. Absolute work of genius. 

Woman Blissfully Unaware of Massive Wolf Behind Her

On first glance I thought that woman in the foreground was happy as she was hugging her wolf but actually I don’t think she has a clue the wolf is there, she’s hugging herself. Is she asleep or just really feeling her own vibe? I did think she must know because the wolf is howling but actually I think we’ve just caught the moment the wolf lets out a sharp scream to his mates before the whole pack devours her. 

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A (Repeat Eternally) 

If you didn’t know by now, The Mountain is an American company. Very American. So much so that they’re got the main symbol of America in one picture: the majestic bald eagle with flags for wings. In reality you’d get arrested for making a flag out of feathers because it’d split apart which they don’t like. Here’s another little fact for you: the bald eagle’s call is so pathetic in real life that the call you hear in films is actually that of the miles better red-tailed hawk. 

The Pied Piper of Nothing 

I honestly have absolutely no clue what to say about this. It seems inspired by Aboriginal art but why have such an American company done a piece of Aboriginal art? Why not Native American? Actually probably best not to dwell on that one for too long.

Big Hard Knights on Big Hard Dragons

It took me a while to figure out what was going on here. I say it took me a while: I still have no idea. But I did eventually work out it was some dragons with little helmeted men on them. I’m unsure whether the dragons are shouting at each other or trying to get those little men off their backs. Either way they’re all about to burn alive so they better get on with it. 

Jesus Makes His First Music Video

This is the absolute pièce de résistance and again another American masterpiece from fashion’s own home of American masterpieces. I’m assuming this is the spot Jesus was crucified at and not three other random crosses however, if that was the case, where’s the blood? It’s not like they needed a cleanup team, it was pretty clear who crucified him. He carried his own cross so this can’t be pre-crucifixion. Also I’m assuming the reason Jesus’ head is see-through is because that’s actually his ghost. In terms of biblical accuracy it’s a mess but as a piece of expressive art it’s wonderful. Also, as the title suggests, it looks like a Jesus music video.