College students design T-shirts for retailer Hot Topic

FARMINGTON — Hot Topic, the retail destination of pop culture and music merchandise, is selling T-shirts online this month that feature graphic designs created by students from Diné College

The collaboration is part of the retail chain’s campaign called, “tees that tell stories.” Net proceeds from T-shirt sales will go to the tribal college through Nov. 30.

In addition, the Hot Topic Foundation will give a $50,000 grant to Diné College to fund scholarships for future students.

The four T-shirts are available on the Hot Topic website under the “tees that tell stories” banner.

Graphic design students Aiyana Gatewood, Karl Pinto, Edwina Redsteer and Troy Tso had their designs selected by Hot Topic, a news release from Diné College states.

Four Diné College students designed T-shirts for retailer Hot Topic, which is selling the apparel online this month.

“Diné College appreciates the partnership with the Hot Topic Foundation and their efforts to provide students with an opportunity to obtain a quality education from a tribal college,” the release states.

Hot Topic did not respond to questions about the collaboration.

Matthew Bollinger is the fine arts professor at the college’s main campus in Tsaile, Arizona.

Bollinger explained that Hot Topic reached out to the college about the opportunity for students to design T-shirts that recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In recent years, several cities and states have accepted Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day on the second Monday in October. This year, President Joe Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day to celebrate the contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples.

The T-shirts are being sold in November because it is Native American Heritage Month.

This screenshot shows the banner on the Hot Topic website that links to the T-shirts designed by four students from Diné College.

Bollinger said the project gave students real-world experience by presenting their designs to Hot Topic and developing communication with company employees throughout the process.

They also grew in confidence as designers, he added.

“It was definitely a real-world circumstance that gave them a taste of what is ahead of them after they graduate,” he said.

He added that Tso will become the first student to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in December. The graphic design program is offered entirely online.

“I think it was successful. The T-shirt designs are gorgeous,” Bollinger said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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