T-shirts … the good, the bad, the ugly

T-shirts. Made of single jersey knit, usually of cotton, worn by everyone, and cost the environment about 2,706 litres of water to make just one; which according to the WWF is three years’ worth of drinking water (World Wildlife Fund 2013).

dior-is-selling-a-plain-cotton-t-shirt-that-says-we-should-all-be-feminists-for-710.jpg
Luxe politics: Well, yes, we should be, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pay $936.65 for this t-shirt from Dior, even if some of the funds raised are going to charity. Image: Dior

Still, we continue to wear them. From James Dean’s super basic white cotton tee that was so rebellious in the 1950s, to the punk movement of the Sex Pistols ‘God Save the Queen’ ripped up t-shirts, to Madonna’s famous slogan tee ‘Italians Do It Better’, these are some iconic tees and images that most people will recognise.

Then came the famous band tees and slogan t-shirts from the 1980s and 1990s – smiley acid face anyone? And the ease of printing created some of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen like a t-shirt that’s supposed to look like a hairy man’s body.

And finally, we come to fashion brands like Supreme – whose box logo tee basically built the entire brand – and high-end luxury designers like Dior jumping on the feminist bandwagon – even though there are still more men running the fashion industry than women. Lastly, there is Vetements, a brand that made a fortune out of selling you something basic for $1,000 … check out the gallery for some of the most iconic t-shirts so far.

Which ones do you own? Which ones do you recognise?

References and images
United T-Shirts, ‘Most iconic music t-shirts of all time’, United T-Shirts, viewed 17 May 2018, <http://united-tshirts.com/most-iconic-music-t-shirts-of-all-time/>

O’Malley K 2017, ‘New York Fashion Week AW17 Trend Watch: Political Power Dressing’, Elle UK, viewed 17 May 2018, <https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/trends/news/a33963/new-york-fashion-week-aw17-trend-watch-political-power-dressing/>.

de Klerk A 2018, ‘The history of the slogan T-shirt: How simple words on a garment can help bring about social and cultural change’, Harper’s Bazaar UK, viewed 17 May 2018, <https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/fashion-news/news/a39193/the-history-of-the-slogan-t-shirt/>.

World Wildlife Fund 2013, ‘The Impact of a Cotton T-Shirt’, World Wildlife Fund, viewed 17 May 2018, <https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-impact-of-a-cotton-t-shirt>.

Finn A 2018, ‘The (T-)Shirt’, Lecture Week 8, MANU2227, RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University, Melbourne.

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