Last Friday marked the opening of the exhibition “T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion” at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London. The exhibition which will run until May 6th plays host to over 200 iconic slogan t-shirts from the 20th century.
Now more than ever, t-shirts have become much more than just a simple plain garment. They have become a voice for thousands and a wearable protest banner for so many important causes. Therefore to mark the opening of the popular exhibition , we thought we’d take a look at some of our favourite iconic slogan t-shirts.
Katherine Hemnett – “58% don’t want Pershing”
One of the most iconic t-shirts from the 20th century comes from renowned fashion designer, Katherine Hamnett. Her t-shirt reading ‘58% don’t want Pershing’ sparked the world’s attention when she was photographed wearing it whilst meeting the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher in 1984. The t-shirt made reference to the protests surrounding the installation of US nuclear warheads on British soil. Hemnett had been invited to an event at 10 Downing Street, which she originally didn’t want to attend. It was only hours before that she decided to attend the event on a political basis and therefore designed and produced the famous t-shirt that attracted the eyes of many.
The Schrill Society – Nasty Woman
Fast forward over 30 years and slogan t-shirts are still used to make a political statement. Who can forget the moment when Donald Trump referred to Hilary Clinton as a “nasty woman” in the third presidential debate in October 2016? The negative insult was quickly turned into a positive by many and all of a sudden, the term “nasty woman” was plastered onto merchandise around the world. One of these merchandise stores consisted of The Schrill Society, which sells the famous Nasty Woman t-shirt, along with other products. 50% of the The Schrill Society’s profits are donated to Planned Parenthood which has currently raised over $100k.
There have been thousands of supporters of the t-shirt and they’re often found at Women’s marches around the world. Supporters of the nasty woman t-shirt also include Katy Perry, Will Ferrell and Kristen Bell.
V&A – Corbyn Nike T-Shirts
This political take on the famous sportswear brand logo for Nike became the unofficial merchandise of the Labour election campaign last summer. Jeremy Corbyn has been extremely popular with the younger population, with 60% of 18-24 year old’s voting for the Labour party in the last years election. Corbyn inspired 2 young friends in Bristol so much that they designed the famous Corbyn tick t-shirt, which was then acquired by the Victoria & Albert (V&A) museum as part of their Rapid Response Collection. The V&A stated that the t-shirt “captured the growing influence of street wear brands”.
The t-shirts were extremely popular both in the lead up and aftermath of the election and were often found worn at music festivals and concerts.
Dior – We Should All Be Feminists
One of the most iconic pieces from Maria Grazia’s first Dior collection was a classic white t-shirt that read the words “We Should All Be Feminists’. With Maria Grazia being Dior’s first ever female artistic director, her debut collection in Spring 2017 was already highly anticipated and statement pieces such as this t-shirt ensured that she did not disappoint. The inspiring slogan was taken from famous novelist and feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx Talk of the same title.
Whilst the sell out Dior t-shirt has a hefty price tag of £490.00, a percentage of the profits are donated to Clara Lionel Foundation; a charity founded by Rihanna which supports education and health rights around the globe.
Along with Rihanna, many other famous supporters of the t-shirt include Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, Karlie Kloss, A$AP Rocky and Kendall Jenner.
Green Box Shop – “Why be racist…” T-Shirt
When Frank Ocean performed at the Panorama Music Festival NYC in July, it wasn’t just his performance that had people talking. His t-shirt which read “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” spoke to so many people around the world.
A viral tweet from a young man named Brandon Male was the inspiration behind the t-shirt. When 18 year old Kayla Robinson struggled to find a political t-shirt that she liked, she saw the tweet which read the iconic words and decided to print it onto a t-shirt to sell on her website, The Green Box Shop. When Frank Ocean then wore the t-shirt, the internet went crazy for it a Kayla suddenly saw a huge influx in orders.