Monday, 23 August 2010

The Quest for the Basic Larp Shirt

The basic larp shirt is turning out to be a rather elusive on the drawing board.

There was a Rule7 discussion not long ago about the items commonly lacking in larp and among other things, basic generic kit was on the list. Reasons for this include the simple fact that reasonable approximations of generic kit can be bought from charity shops and are usually the first thing most kit-makers start with making.* The world of the generic items is surprisingly competitive. There are also a number of excellent imports from Germany and other larp-prolific countries.

But it made it onto the Mercenary's to do list, along with robes and waistcoats and coat, but the topic today is the variety of linen shirts in a reasonably wide range of colours (a test run, not unlike the gambesons ). And the question now comes down to the design. 

Perhaps it's because larp settings take inspiration from a huge number of historical periods, ranging from the dark ages to early modernity. Having a shirt that wouldn't look too out of place in all those possible worlds is difficult to say the least. Buttons immediately place it in a post-button setting (after the 13th century for most of Western Europe) which isn't necessarily desirable given the "generic" moniker. On the other hand, the buttons can be lovely and lift a garment from dull to interesting.

I'm positing some kind of sweet spot between "character specific" and "utterly generic." Something that is versatile and reusable, but interesting enough that someone looks at it and thinks "yes, I can see how that would with what I own..." In theory, things like the feathered mantle are thought to this category, but they haven't exactly been a raging success, so what would I know? Perhaps the idea of actually producing such larp kit is all vain since all characters and all settings are different, even as they draw on similar inspirations.

The shirts will priced at around £15-20 each. I would love to hear any feedback on this new enterprise.

What sort of shirt do you want to own?

* The first bit of kit I ever made was a hand-stitched Viking tunic, actually. The next thing I bought was swords and armour. It was quite a while before I handed over money for what can be termed a generic larp shirt.

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