Welcome to Newbury Street’s newest apparel store, Johnny Cupcakes, specializing in one-of-a-kind silk-screened t-shirts that are anything but stale. A mix of pop culture iconography and punk rock attitude, Johnny Cupcakes supplies the kind of edgy, unique t-shirts Urban Outfitters wishes it still sold.
David W. Ingber ’07 describes himself as “obsessed with Johnny Cupcakes apparel,” though he has yet to purchase an item. “It’s too expensive for me. I’m just a big fan of it existing,” he says.
Besides shirts, Johnny also sells pants, underwear, and bags in a bakery-themed boutique. The clothes are displayed on stainless steel baking trays and in antique refrigerators, and apron-wearing employees—some are preppy, otheres sport nose rings—stuff purchases into bakery boxes.
What separates Johnny Cupcakes from vanilla t-shirt shops is the rareness of its merchandise: all shirts are limited edition and sold chiefly at the single Johnny Cupcakes store and website. Signature styles include the cupcake-and-crossbones design and popular “Make Cupcakes Not War” t-shirt. Johnny’s customers think that exclusivity justifies the higher prices—the shirts run thirty to sixty dollars, depending on the total number made.
“People like what no one else has,” says Johnny M. “Cupcakes” Earle. “If you make something limited, people are willing to pay a higher price, and you build up a cult following. I don’t want to water down the brand...or make a quick buck in chain stores.”
Limited edition t-shirt series, such as the Halloween lines, are restricted to 300 or so, each shirt hand numbered by Earle himself. Make sure to get in line early for this December’s abominable snowman t-shirts—the Halloween designs sold like hot cakes.