Three travel-loving friends have started Iconspeak, a T-shirt company that uses graphic design to help backpackers overcome language barriers. While on the road, abroad, "Many times we were confronted with a language barrier that was only to be overcome by drawing signs, symbols or icons on a piece of paper, map, or into the dirt," write George, Steven and Florian, the trio of founders. "We thought it would be great to have an essential set of icons with you, permanently, so that you could just point on whatever you need—and people would understand."
Here's what they came up with:
The trio print the set on T-shirts ($33) and bags ($22).
Of course, with smartphone translating apps getting better by the day, one could argue that these shirts will be short-lived. However, as they point out, "A shirt does not need to be recharged and still, you can have it on as long as you please.
"Furthermore you won't have to worry that we will send you software updates to your shirt which will make it uncomfortable to wear, slow to wash or any such thing. It's a shirt."
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This would be quite handy for a lot of the business travel I do in Asia. However some of my business trips/meetings require formal business attire, perhaps a neck tie with the same icons printed on it?