Throwback Thursday: Hypercolor Shirts

In the 90s, we were fascinated with regular objects that changed color. I don’t know if it was some colorful holdover from the 80s or if we all used way too many Lisa Frank products in school, but there was nothing more exciting than something that changed colors: mood rings, nail polish, and, of course, Hypercolor clothing.

Is it just me or  does this dude look like a furrier James Deen?
Is it just me or does this dude look like a hairier James Deen?

Hypercolor shirts, much like grunge, originated in Seattle, making Seattle the birthplace of two terrible fashion choices.

For some reason, this is fashionable again.
For some reason, this is popular again.

The shirts featured technology from Japan (the 90s loved anything from Japan–Hello Kitty, tamagotchis, etc.) called thermochromic pigment that changed color when heat was applied.

As the area cooled it would return to its original color, but not before leading to awkward photos like this:

It was hard to pretend that you were "just watching TV" when your parents suddenly came into the room.
It was hard to pretend you were “just watching TV” when your parents suddenly came into the room.

Unfortunately, anyone who made the mistake of purchasing one of these shirts realized exactly how short-lived the thermochromic pigments were. They would eventually lose their effect after a few passes through the washing machine or if you made the mistake of using bleach, hot water, a dryer, or an iron–in other words, by treating it like a shirt.

You could have achieved the same color by soaking a white t-shirt in dirty bathwater.
You could have achieved the same color by soaking
a white t-shirt in dirty bathwater.

No doubt spurred on by a heavy dose of nostalgia and short memories, a few different companies have brought about a revival of these thermochromic shirts. This means that if you, in the year 2015, would like to waste your money on novelty items by refusing to learn the 1991 lesson of Hypercolor, you can do so here.

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Emily Regan is the author of several books, including "What's an Adult?: No One Knows Anything and We're All Going to Die." She is an avid fan of reality TV, an unironic Hanson fan, and currently resides in Arizona with her family.

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