Coleman Larkin, an artist and writer from Kentucky in the US, is behind one of the most bizarre decorating techniques we’ve ever seen (or smelled): tie-dyeing T-shirts with KFC gravy. And yes, apparently the tees do have a ‘subtle aroma’.
“I work a lot with Kentucky for Kentucky, a local retailer that’s always putting out fun products and content that puts a spotlight on our state,” explains Coleman, who wanted to incorporate Kentucky cuisine into some apparel to “weird people out…in a good way”. He tried a few different sauces but it was friend Whit Hiler, co-founder of Kentucky for Kentucky and his co-worker at Cornett advertising agency, who had the idea of using KFC gravy and dropping the T-shirts around Thanksgiving.
The process of dyeing the Fruit of the Loom Sofspun cotton crew-necks is straightforward, says Coleman. “First, you’ve got to buy the gravy. It takes about a gallon to make a dozen shirts. And KFC won’t wholesale it to you, so you’ve got to pay retail prices. It’s a bad policy and I’ve written to The Colonel about it. Plus you have to overcome the social awkwardness that goes along with ordering an inappropriate amount of sauce and nothing to put it on. That alone would deter most people. Luckily I’m a champion and do not bow to that kind of pressure.
“Secondly, you’ve got to wrap the shirts up with rubber bands or whatever in specific ways to achieve certain patterns just like you would a regular tie-dyed tee. Next, you have to boil them in an acidic solution so they’re ready to accept the stain. Then they get dunked in the gravy and left to soak for a day or so. The excess gets wiped oand they’re hung up to dry for another couple of days. Finally, they get rinsed in a chemical fixative that sets the stain and keeps it from fading. Then they’re washed, dried, and ready to wear to your next wedding or funeral.” The response to the $50 T-shirts has been “overwhelmingly positive”, according to Coleman, who reports that, “they’re basically sold out”.