I just realised recently that I don’t actually think I’ve ever written an article about Last Exit to Nowhere. I really thought I had. I just assumed I had. Because I should have. But I don’t think I have, and that needs to be rectified. I’ve been buying from them for 7 years after all.
I’m purely writing this as a fan letter to their great work. I’m seriously recommending you check them out if you haven’t been to their site yet. Hopefully most people have been to their site though, as they’re getting pretty famous, with loads of celebrities wearing their stuff too.
At its very core, Last Exit to Nowhere is a t-shirt website. But we’ve seen loads of t-shirt website. Last Exit is different though. Its t-shirts are all subtle references from the film world. Not using official logos from the film title or studio of course, but cleverly using made up logos from within a film, such as a restaurant or company that appears in a few frames of a movie in some cases. Some examples are Nakatomi Plaza, OCP, K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies and Hill Valley High. This is clever as they are clearly not wanting to get sued by any film studios, but more importantly it instils a sense of geek pride in the wearer as not everyone will get the reference. If someone recognises what the reference is, it means they’re part of the club. You feel like you’re wearing a badge of honour. Membership to the geek club of the world. I wore my Nostromo hoody on my honeymoon and during a fourth of July parade in Santa Monica some guy walked up to me and said “Aliens! Wow, that’s so cool. Where did you get it?”. After I corrected him that it was actually from ‘Alien’ of course, I proudly told him about the Last Exit website. Another member just joined the club.
About half my wardrobe comes from this place. I actually just realised I’m wearing a t-shirt and a hoody from them right now while I’m typing this. Here is a selection of some of the t-shirts and hoodies I’ve bought over the years, some of which are now discontinued.
Nostromo – Alien (hoody)
Hans Martial Arts Tournament – Enter the Dragon
Bantu Wind – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Pork Chop Express – Big Trouble in Little China
WOPR – Wargames
Heroes for Sale – True Romance
Paper Street Soup Club – Se7en
The Winchester – Shaun of the Dead (hoody)
Marvin Berry and the Starlighters – Back to the Future
Clubber Lang – Rocky III
Bob’s Country Bunker – The Blues Brothers
I’m sure there are several other ones too that I can’t remember right now.
Here is a screenshot of some of the t-shirts on their site.
Of course other websites have started to copy Last Exit’s formula, in terms of going down the subtle movie reference route, but none of them seem in the same class as Last Exit. The designs just don’t look as good. The head honcho of Last Exit, Mike Ford, is obviously an extremely talented illustrator who manages to capture the essence of the movie whilst still making it a very eye catching design that works well as a screen print. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike a couple of years back at the London Film and Comic Con and he’s a top bloke. After stumbling across his website in its infancy it’s great to see how successful his website has become.
They’ve also now started to venture into TV shows which I find very exciting. Hopefully they’ll cover shows like Twin Peaks (I think they already have), Street Hawk, Automan, Manimal, The Prisoner, Blake’s 7, CHiPs, MacGyver, Quantum Leap, Red Dwarf, Battlestar Galactica, The Incredible Hulk, Hill Street Blues, Stranger Things, the list goes on.
What I really admire about Mike and Last Exit is how they have gone about things. They have done it in such a cool way and with so much respect for the properties, that instead of film studios suing them or distancing themselves from the site, it’s quite the opposite. Actors and directors and people like Brian Cox and Mark Kermode are often seen wearing the t-shirts. Production people have said they love the t-shirts. Film studios have commissioned Last Exit to design crew shirts for recent movies. Mike has even been invited out to California by Pixar to visit their headquarters. The brand has expanded over the years and continued to be successful, and amidst all that has even managed to stay cool. Now, what shall I buy next… Ghostbusters or Trading Places?