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THE T-SHIRTS

The Keep Calm And Pass It To Pirlo T-shirt
Rs. 1001
The I Just Felt Like Running Forrest Gump T-shirt
Rs. 801
The I Love My Mummy T-shirt
Rs. 501
The City Cyclist No Limits T-shirt
Rs. 1001
The Swami Vivekananda T-shirt
Rs. 881
The Om n I T-shirt
Rs. 1001
The Shiva - My Realization T-shirt
Rs. 1001
The Surya Namaskara T-shirt
Rs. 881
The Me Feeds On Fast Breaks T-shirt
Rs. 1001
The Jadugar T-shirt Celebrating Major Dhyanchand
Rs. 1001
The Har Har Mahadev, Har Ek Mahadev T-shirt
Rs. 801
The 22 Yards T-shirt for Cricket Romantics
Rs. 1001
The Mirza Ghalib T-shirt
Rs. 951
The Mera Superhero RD BurMAN T-shirt
Rs. 951
The A to Z of Football T-shirt
Rs. 951
The A to Z of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander T-shirt
Rs. 1001
The Sport is Life In Motion T-shirt
Rs. 751
The Invincibles T-shirt For The Gunners
Rs. 1001
The Tennis for Peace Love All T-shirt
Rs. 951
The Amar Jawaan T-shirt - A Tribute
Rs. 751

Buy? Yes, but ..!

It's been years since I started doing t-shirts, but my perspective about them remains the same. T-shirts don't hide. They reveal!

The way a t-shirt lends itself, through its unique open canvas, to 'personal expression' is unlike any other piece of cloth. Let me explain. Every other piece of cloth has some identity to it: a hoodie has a hood you can hide your face in and those front pockets you can dig your hands in; a polo t-shirt has a collar and buttons; a tank top has its shoulder straps that make it sexy; a kurta has its ethnic look and inherent grace. Every piece of apparel has something of its own, but not the t-shirt.

A t-shirt is a bare minimum. You can't squeeze anything further out of it.

I'm not talking about the volume or real-estate of the fabric. Probably 10 bikinis can be made from a 3XL sized t-shirt. A t-shirt's minimalist nature stems from the fact that there's nothing more you can take away from it. Yes, you can cut it and make it into a sandos, or be a little bit more scissory and convert a tee into a tank-top, but even in that cutting away of the fabric there is the component of 'adding' something - a new dimension - to the t-shirt.

That's why I feel that t-shirts are almost "zenlike", as if they represented the "Buddha" of urban apparel". The simplest piece of clothing and, yet, it's so complete in itself. The t-shirt, to me, depicts natural egoless-ness and offers itself to anything the wearer wants to say. When you want to express something through a piece of apparel, t-shirts are the natural choice. You try do it it on anything else, and there's a possibility of the clothing itself contaminating the message with its own special features. There's no such limitation with the t-shirt. That is why you can find a t-shirt about everything - be it marathons, sports, political causes, tributes, fund raising, reunions, rock bands, schools, colleges, protests, compassion, victory, history, cities, countries, teams, people .. everything. No other piece of apparel can attain to this universal appeal. That's also why while every other t-shirt store - including the Tantra guys, whom I consider to be the pioneers of t-shirts in India - have started cashing in on their success and make everything from boxers to clocks ... I'll never do anything but round neck t-shirts at Toubé Bäs. That's a promise I made to myself on the 13th of January, 2009 when I started (Friday the Thirteenth!), and I keep repeating that promise every single day.

So, don't buy from me, if you are just here to buy something to cover your body in, and are bored of other apparel that you possess, and want some novelty in your life. That's not what t-shirts at Toubé Bäs are intended for. At least, in my mind. I never aimed to make t-shirts with the aim to make a style statement, or a clothing item. Moreover, I didn't start Toubé Bäs with the aim to make it my bread-and-butter, or seek investments and turn this into a million dollar house. Al that nonsense was not my intention, and I have successfully resisted such temptations over the last many years.

I don't believe in competition at all - I'm all for compassion, collaboration, and celebration. I'll be doubly happy if you can buy from the other so many t-shirt creators out there - and quite a few of them come from a professional designing background unlike me - so their design will have some science in it, and will be less barbarian than what I can manage here with my limited technical know-how. I have come to empirically know that if I can sincerely and purely wish for someone else's benefit, the existence will bring ten times of that to me without me having to ask for it! So 'my sales, and my sales only' is not my concern.

Buy from Toubé Bäs if, here, you can find a t-shirt you can instantly make a bond with and you just know, "This t-shirt .. It's like it's made for me." Or buy a Toubé Bäs if you know someone like that .. and you think that a t-shirt here will definitely be a prized possession for them. Only then will I be able to fulfill my "t-shirt dharma".

Basically (.. and I know I am hurting my sales by making an anti-sales-pitch here .. but it's ok .. ) buy a Toubé Bäs not because it fits your body well. Buy a Toubé Bäs because it fits your 'system' well.

Shit Happens

"Shit Happens" is probably the most profound statement to be put on t-shirts and bumper stickers, and everytime I see that scene from Forrest Gump which features the amusing plot involving the "Shit Happens" slogan and the smiley t-shirt, I seem to experience a mini-nirvana!

It was shit that drove me to make the first twenty t-shirts of my life, in which I invested Rs. 2500/- in 2009. I was leading a new-media-and-sports project as the C.E.O. of Merasport Technologies. While I make a mention of the designation, it's really no big deal to give yourself a designation in your own little start-up. The reality is .. you might as well call yourself the clerk, the salesman, the delivery boy. After toiling it out for three years - which included numerous visits to Infosys (E-City, Bangalore) because Infosys was the technological partner in this deal, I could see Merasport nosediving into oblivion, and that left me utterly frustrated.

Truth be told: shit happened to me.

Funnily, I was so doped out with this "shit", that I naturally turned to creativity. It happens .. great negative can transform into great positive. The Great Depression provided the world with the best of art! I also think I needed "success" badly - even a false notion of it - and probably felt that successfully printing twenty pieces of t-shirts - which I intended to gift to my friends - would qualify as my own little success story and give me something to hang on to. So I managed to get twenty t-shirts printed, donned one of them myself that very evening, and walked around the streets of Koramangala, Bangalore, probably the happiest person that evening. I continue to rediscover that same happy feeling everytime I design a new t-shirt. It's probably an addiction.

All my time in IIT Bombay (1997-2002) can be divided into three portions: the sports field, the hostel lounge, the computer room, and the lecture halls. While the sports fields brought the most grave and serious aspect of me to the fore, all my time in the hostel was spent in farting around in the tv room or at the carrom table, all my time in the computer room was spent in coding (and intermittently downloading and saving pictures of Twinkle Khanna whom I still have a crush on), and all my time in the lecture halls was invested in doodling. I still play sports with the same passion (and, thankfully, some more wisdom), I develop and maintain the websites of all my e-commerce businesses, and .. well .. farting-and-doodling is what prepared me for t-shirt designing (or that is what I like to believe!)

Up-Start!

I remember getting the first lot of t-shirts from my supplier (Ashfaq Hussain, Shantinagar, Bangalore - the best t-shirt maker in this universe) on 13th February 2009, which was a Friday! No, it wasn't planned. After those first twenty t-shirts (and I still have a couple from that very stock with me), I made the (now) super-popular "A-Z of Football" t-shirt in black - the first of which was bought by my then boss, Jitendra (Jitu) Joshi. The date? Exactly a month later. 13th of March. Again a Friday!

I decided, right then, to come up with a t-shirt design on the 13th of every month. Of course, I am not at all consistent with dishing out a new t-shirt every month - but this thing just stuck by me. Friday the Thirteenth became a special day, and I am told by my friends-turned-customers and customers-turned-friends that they are reminded of Toubé Bäs whenever they realise that it's Friday the Thirteenth. How I wish I could actually stop disappointing them and if not on every 13th, at least surprise them with a new design on every Friday the Thirteenth. I'm not even as busy as I pretend to be ... it's just that I am a Sodhani (and Sodhani's are the laziest people in the world), and given a choice between playing football and designing a t-shirt, I would more often go for the former. Just some natural, sub-conscious priority, I guess.

It would happen though - people would listen to me telling them about this small t-shirt hobbusiness of mine, and they would think of me as a start-up guy. I just couldn't accept that. I come from a baniya family, and baniya-giri was all I was doing. Making t-shirts for x rupees, and selling them for x + y! There's no entrepreneurship in it, and there's definitely no innovation in what I did then, and what I do now.

So before you think of me as an exciting IITian-turned-entrepreneur, let me remind you that none of that new-age bullshit nonsense applies to me. By buying a Toubé Bäs t-shirt, you are not associating yourself with something world-changingly special, I'm sorry to say! Yes, I used to think that I am awesome to have had the balls to plunge into the risky businessworld, but even that turned out to be a notion of self-foolery. Every Indian street is lined up with businessmen of all kinds ... and I am just following a tried and tested protocol.

The only thing I can give myself credit to is that, against the idea of being a start-up, I consider myself to be up-start. I'm upstart when it comes to quality control - and can have a sleepless night if ever I get to know about a customer unhappy with the t-shirt quality. I'm also upstart about the basic designing philosophy of mine - which is to be simple and communicative rather than cluttery and confusing. Plus, I'm always kicked-up about interacting with the customer, maintaining as much human interaction as possible with every one (so instead of designing a system which sends an automated mail, I would rather pick up the phone and talk to you), providing a minimum-fuss buying experience and making sure, to whatever extent I can, that receiving the t-shirt at your doorstep is a memorable event for you. I'm emotional, that way :)

I have never been able to warm-up to the idea of mass-marketing or social-advertising. It just doesn't feel right to me. Sometimes it feels too lame to put random adverts hoping that someone will oneday look at them, visit the website, browse around, select, pay, and purchase. Too much hanging on hopes here. In fact, I am not a man of hope at all. On the contrary, I am one step ahead .. I'm a man of faith, and for no rhyme or reason, I have come to trust the word-of-mouth way. So you will probably never see a Toubé Bäs advert either in the pages or on the internet, no Google AdWords nonsense, no WTF marketing, nothing. I rely completely on people who know Toubé Bäs telling their people about it, and I send one email every month telling the Toubé Bäsians about what's happening here. That's it. So much for being a 'start-up'!

No-Nonsense

When a business is driven by making disproportionate amounts of money, it runs the risk of making compromises. It starts doing things for the masses, forgetting to create a niche for itself in the process. I see it everywhere - from detergents to cars, from cola drinks to t-shirts. The business is happy with giving the customer what he or she has wants (which is based on what's available to them) instead of taking the leap, and trying to bring a new dimension of possibilities to the customer which could make him or her feel extra-special, elated! I think businesses owe that to their loyal customer-force.

Whenever I think o it, I happily take the call that for the foreseeable future, I will not resort to making just random graphics on t-shirts (butterflies, moustaches, tweety birds, hearties, some random collage of graphics). Even if these might make the t-shirt look good (something which rarely happens), it's all very superficial. Feels like the t-shirt is not made for the wearer, but for the people who'll be looking at the wearer. I prefer it the other way, though. T-shirts at Toubé Bäs will always be about some essence, some passion, some cause that a customer believes in. That's where it will start, and any graphic that I come up with will be serve only compliment that belief, not take centre-stage.

That is why .. for t-shirts that make no sense at all but might look good, Toubé Bäs is just not the right place. Here, you'll find t-shirts that you'll either instantly connect with, or not connect with at all in a plethora of years. If you are a hard-core marathon runner, you'll want to buy every t-shirt here that talks about running, and if you're not a runner, you'll look through the running t-shirt as if it never existed.

It's a strange ideology behind running a business, but it's been working till now!

BEFORE THEY DI!

Imagine running into a stranger, or even an acquaintance, at a party or a gathering or even a mall - wearing the same t-shirt. Or .. let's say you're not wearing the same t-shirt, but he or she is wearing a t-shirt which you have in your wardrobe. Probably that very instant you will lose that special attachment to your t-shirt.

It's good if you are looking at attaining enlightenment asap .. because that's one less attachment. But if you're not, it feels like some wasted money, love lost.

To side-step that landmine, Toubé Bäs t-shirts will be exclusive, and limited edition. I will not print more than 501 t-shirts of a design - ever. I usually print 30-40 pieces of a design together, and when I run out of them, I print the next lot of that design a couple of years later. In any event, I will never let the total count go beyond 501 t-shirts. Moreover, with every restocking, I'll increase the price by Rs. 100 or so. So if you buy a t-shirt today, you can be assured of two things: you're buying a t-shirt which very, very few people can; and you're buying a t-shirt whose value will have appreciated by the time it is restocked a year or two later.

Buying what every body has is one thing, and waving that only a rare select will ever possess is a completely different feeling altogether. It's like .. once in a while you'll drop all inhibitions, deprioritize everything else, and pamper yourself by driving a hundred miles to have your favorite coffee, if your favorite coffee is available only at that one shop a hundred miles away. You can't do that everyday, and this rarity is exactly what makes it special.

In case you were wondering, "DI" is 501 written in Roman numerals!!

Micro-Invest!

Ever since April last year (2016), I have been pondering over this new and exciting business model that would make it more fun for me, and beneficial for my friends/customers. So here it is:

1) I invite my friends/customers (same thing) to either tell me what field/topic/subject would they like a next t-shirt here to be about, and partner with me in designing, producing, and selling the first 50 pieces of the t-shirt.
2) You'll will have a larger say on the subject, and I'll have a larger say on the final design.

3) That's the intangible part. The tangible part is that you will have to invest a token amount (around 5000/-) in producing these t-shirts (the rest will be put in by me).

4) We both will flex our muscles in spreading the word about the t-shirt, and drive the sales.

5) We share the profits 50-50. Of course, I'll share every costing detail with you.

The big red-flag here is .. please don't do it with the intent to make money (though you will make some quick-albeit-little money). Please do it only because you think it will be fun to do some t-shirt-giri with me, and because Rs. 5000/- is hardly an amount that will dent your resources! For me, the benefit is two-fold: I get to do something with my friends in a non-permanent way, and I can save myself from investing too much into Toubé Bäs which I don't intend to run as a business anyway.

I threw this idea in the face of Naren Venugopal (my room mate in Bombay), and he wasted 3 seconds in nodding his head and committing towards the "Amar Jawaan" t-shirt. He loves the military (his dad is an armyman), and he was sure he could get quite a few of them sold within his army community.

Then, Kalpana, my omni-present co-saadhak at all the meditation camps I've been to, agreed to invest her sum of 5000/- in the upcoming, "Buddha" t-shirt. It's a beautiful story, actually. Her mother got inspired - at the age of 60! - to try her hands (literally) at painting, and before they knew it, she was organizing exhibitions of her creatives all around Thane/Jalgaon! In some blissful moment of hers, she painted a beautiful painting of Buddha, and when I saw it, I exclaimed that this has to come on a t-shirt! I'll be doing that t-shirt next, in March 2017.

Then, my jeejaji, Sandeep Maheshwari, who is a big, huge, humongous fan of chai, committed Rs. 5000 for a t-shirt that is about chai! The fact that he is a king of sick-jokes means that in one of his own moments of enlightenment, he came up with an excellently witty idea for the t-shirt as well. I might do that sometime in the next 3-4 months!

So, the very moment you feel like it's a harmless-and-feel-good idea .. this micro-investing .. tell me without batting an eyelid. We'll do something crazy together, and you'll be helping me in the process as well!

8080-SORABH

Yes, I somehow managed to get that mobile number, and hold on to it. Some luck, huh?!

I shifted base from Bangalore to Bombay in 2009 (I now reside in Gwalior, my hometown), and went into a Reliance store to get a new number for myself. The girl sitting behind the desk informed me that in postpaid, unlike prepaid, I can have any number I want, but it has to begin with "8080". I'll have to come up with the next 6 digits.

Now, "8080" felt to me like "SOSO" (which is one of my several nicks), and I couldn't help but realise that my name has 6 letters in it. So, I quickly checked the 'ABC' dialpad on my mobile device, dialed the keys with 'SORABH' to arrive at 767224, and excitedly ran to the girl with 8080-767224 scribbled on a piece of paper in my hand. Needless to say, I was now so keen and, hence, mighty nervous! I must have been biting the skin near my nails too, I'm sure!

She must be wondering why the hell is this guy so keen on this weird number "767-224" when the world goes for mnemonics like "456-654" or something like that. In fact, if I had wanted it to be TSHIRT and not SORABH, it would have been quite a symmetric number (874-478) which would have cost me a bomb. Anyway, she checked, told me that it was available at the usual, non-premium rate, and booked it for me.

I don't remember, but I must have slept extra-peacefully that day.

Long story short .. whether for hugs or for hello's, just call me at 8080767224. It's going to be super-awesome for you to talk to me .. because me .. well .. I'm a super-awesome guy!