Let your tee do the talking

A casual, smart T-shirt can never go out of fashion but the ones with slogans can make a strong statement.

lifestyle, lifestyle news
A casual, smart tee can never go out of fashion but the ones with slogans are the most effective and can make a political or fashion statement.

Christian Dior’s Fall 2019 show marked a new wave of feminism when it included the title of American second-wave feminist activist and author Robin Morgan’s classic work, Sisterhood is Global. The title had appeared as a slogan on a T-shirt in the opening look of the show then. It made a strong case for feminism as Maria Grazia Chiuri, the artistic director of Dior and the first woman to hold the position, has followed the trend of including slogan T-shirts in the luxury brand’s other collections.

A casual, smart tee can never go out of fashion but the ones with slogans are the most effective and can make a political or fashion statement. Often inspired by graffiti, slogans on T-shirts can make a strong statement, and sometimes they can become a personal style too.

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Be it Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sporting a white T-shirt for his much politicised Bharat Jodo Yatra, South African minister of electricity Kgosientso Ramakgopa —in a bid to tackle the country’s energy crisis—making a bold statement with his tee that has the words ‘searching for light’ embossed on it, or British designer Katharine Hamnett wearing a ‘58% Don’t Want Pershing’ T-shirt, a reference to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to meet Margaret Thatcher in 1984, slogan T-shirts are making an impact beyond words.

As chief brand officer of Zazzle—an American online marketplace that allows designers and customers to create their own products with independent manufacturers, as well as use images from participating companies, Nizzi Renaud is helping its ecosystem of customers, designers, makers, and brands reach new heights. From gamers to DIY enthusiasts and style aficionados, Renaud works on slogans on T-shirts to offer people the opportunity to express themselves or personalise them for a special occasion for fun.

“Slogans serve a purpose. Phrases, words, patterns and prints are just another way to make fashion unique and special,” says US-based Renaud. Some examples of slogan T-shirts by Zazzle are: ‘A humorous gift for dads’, ‘A taco enthusiast who also loves science’, ‘A unique way to announce a second child’.

Similarly, fashion brand Cover Story focuses on various forms of slogans. From topical, message-driven slogans, such as encouraging women’s empowerment and eco-awareness, to tongue-in-cheek playful slogans, its products bring a sense of joy and lightheartedness to the wearer.

Manjula Tiwari, MD and CEO of Cover Story Clothing, a subsidiary of Reliance Retail, says, “One can portray a sense of identity around the messaging and slogans that they wear, and even initiate healthy conversations with others who appreciate similar topics or sense of humour.”

Meanwhile, slogan T-shirts have captivated attention for nearly three decades and are now making a comeback in the fashion world. “When you wear a slogan T-shirt, you are directly telling the world what you want the world to know about you and what you stand for. A T-shirt is probably the most casual and comfortable clothing option, despite being a common choice of clothing it has never truly gone out of style. People are increasingly using slogan T-shirts to express themselves and kind of branding oneself,” says Sushmit Shubham, denim designer at jeans wear and casual wear brand Spykar.

Suspire, an ecofriendly and sustainable brand, has an exclusive collection from typography to graphic tees. “Recently, we observed that the younger segment is more inclined toward minimalist fashion. They prefer basic T-shirt with witty one-liners and slogans that they resonate with. I think that’s primarily because the Gen-Z audience likes to express themselves unapologetically, and typography on T-shirts helps them to do exactly that,” says co-founder Deepak Ramakrishna.

With slogan T-shirts serving a strong purpose, typography is a very powerful tool, and clever use of slogans can transform an otherwise ordinary T-shirt into a statement piece. “Having a funny, quirky, or thought-provoking message on the tee is a great way to grab attention, elicit reactions and turn some heads. From a brand perspective, I believe that slogans can help build recognition by leaving a mark in the minds of the consumers that they will identify and resonate, time and time again,” adds Ramakrishna.

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“Slogans speak a lot about someone. It is literally like wearing your heart on the sleeve. Fashion brings out the individuality of a person through this perfect marriage of great design and slogan,” says Rahul Dayama, head of marketing at Urbanic.

The fashion brand has a collection of fun T-shirts that convey different emotions. From an emotional connection, fun vibe or simply highlighting the cause that one stands for, Urbanic has several slogan T-shirts on offer. “Urbanic uses slogans like ‘It’s all good, I am my own kind’. This is the quote that I live by because we built the brand on the same foundation and thought process. We always encourage our community to go all out, experiment, and not hold back because of societal norms or opinions. You are one of a kind,” adds Dayama.

Wear your attitude

Slogan T-shirts are loved by both luxury as well as high-street brands. In fact, slogans serve different purposes; they can be fun, inspirational, emotional, or impactful. One might wear a motivational quote that they swear by, others might wear a T-shirt that supports the cause that they stand by and some might sport a cool quirky saying that gives us a hint of their fun personality. Slogans serve different purposes for each individual.

In January 2019, Viktor & Rolf in their voluminous tulle gowns shot to fame because of the slogans: “Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want To Come” and “I’m Not Shy I Just Don’t Like You” worked as a wearable meme.

K-pop star Chaeyoung was photographed wearing a shirt depicting the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it. The 23-year-old member of the girl group Twice was under fire this year for wearing this T-shirt. She later posted an apology on Instagram after sharing a photo of herself wearing a shirt that included the hate symbol used by Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party.

Internationally acclaimed artist Shilpa Gupta created a T-shirt which was worn by India Art Fair volunteers in 2022 with the statement, ‘I See the World With Eyes Different From Yours’ brought to life on their bodies, a way to recognise and realise the distinct perspectives from which each of us experiences the world.

“Slogans are used to promote charitable causes, team spirit, and a company logo. T-shirts are a timeless fashion item that will never go out of style. In comparison to other garments’ complex designs and styles, the T-shirt provides a cleaner canvas for communicating a slogan. It’s no surprise that most brands have turned to T-shirts to make their point,” adds Shubham.

From Viktor & Rolf’s 2019 haute couture collection, Prabal Gurung’s Fall Winter 2017 collection to Falguni Shane Peacock and Anamika Khanna, there’s enough experimentation in designing nowadays.

Slogan T-shirt is whimsical as it makes a statement through its designs. Take for instance, Britney Spears’ ‘Dump Him’ tee for her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake’s rumoured new girlfriend, Alyssa Milano, or Hailey Bieber being spotted in Los Angeles wearing a shirt with the phrase ‘Nepo Baby’. The daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin, Bieber is a model and Rhode Skin founder who wore a cropped T-shirt and took aim at the debate about ‘nepo babies’. Julia Fox, who shot to fame after dating Kanye West briefly, wore a ‘Starfucker’ T-shirt to the Dion Lee autumn/ winter ’23 show in New York.

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First published on: 16-04-2023 at 02:00 IST