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T-shirts are a proven way to make a provocative statement – but which are the most iconic – and what do they say about the humble wearer?
It’s not often that a whole new piece of clothing appears, which is what happened with the t-shirt 40 years ago. When James Dean and Marlon Brando sported T-shirts as outerwear, it was a faux par and seen as bad as wearing underpants over trousers. Iconic photos of the American GI during WWII filtered back and in an instant, Hollywood transformed how the garment was worn and attitudes towards the T-shirt changed. Over the years the t-shirt was approximated as a walking billboard, advertising the wearer’s affiliations or views, or simply what was the latest fashion.
Nowadays the t-shirt is used in many provocative, innovative and controversial ways, whether it’s a social statement or boosting a rock bands merchandise sales – its uses are endless. But what do different t-shirts say about the people who wear them?
Frankie Say Relax T-shirt
Another 80s phenomenon, originally designed by Katharine Hamnett but appropriated by Frankie Goes To Hollywood they became ubiquitous in the UK during the summer of 1984, mainly because the BBC banned the song on radio and the ‘terribly rude’ video on TV. This just increased the bands sales and their bad boy credentials. People buy these t-shirts less for the original political reason, more to get dressed up like 80s freaks for fancy dress parties.
What it says about the wearer: Hey, I remember the 80s, its all about being ironic mmm’kay? Great t-shirt though. Currently the latest celebrity fad, with one of the Olsen twins ‘spotted!’ wearing one in the celeb mags.
Hitler European Tour T-shirt
A mock up with colour map of Hitler’s European Tour 1939-45, or as its better known, World War 2, with dates in England cancelled. Is this a bit close to the bone, considering the horror of the Holocaust? I guess this all depends on the nature of the person wearing it, as people wear t-shirts with some mighty strange designs – but may be it could be appropriated by Nazi scum who may mis-understand the message, which ultimately is of Hitler’s failure to beat the civilised world.
What it says about the wearer: Hey, I’m controversial!
Brigade Rosse T-shirt
The Red Army Faction, a Marxist-Leninist group whose aim was to separate Italy from the Western Alliance. An ultra-leftist group the Red Brigades left its mark on the Italian political scene of the 1970s and 1980s, rising from the student protest movement of the late 1960s advocated violence in the service of class warfare and revolution and the group’s attacks targeted symbols of “the establishment” such as unionists, politicians and businessmen. Phew, heavy stuff, but not too much for The Clash’s Joe Strummer who was a staunch supporter, and thus was seen wearing the tee on stage.
What it says about the wearer: I like The Clash. Its one of those tees that has a hidden ‘layer’, in that the wearer wears it on the understanding that only true Clash fans will recognise the depth of their fandom. I’m pretty sure they don’t support The Red Army Faction.
Wham Choose Life T-shirt
Another 80s retro tee designed by Katharine Hamnett originally the slogan came from a Buddhist exhibition, but was used in the early 80s and directed towards suicide and drug addiction, but nicked by Wham for their uber-camp “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video.
What it says about the wearer: Originally I guess its all about positivity, but again these days it’s all about the fancy dress party. GO-GO!
So there you are, a snapshot of some of the t-shirts doing the rounds on the internet, if there’s one thing you can say about t-shirt wearers it’s that they are always individual, and nothing is taboo if it’s on the front of your chest!
Here’s a quick look at the current top ten best sellers online (this information has been taken from the 8ball web store).
1. Goonies Girls Tshirt – Never Say Die Jr
2. Hitler European Tour 1939-45 tshirt
3. Anchorman Tshirt-Sex Panther
4. Sonic Youth Tshirt – Goo
5. Thin Lizzy Logo t shirt – Black
6. 24 – Bauer CTU T-Shirt
7. Frankie Goes To Hollywood Girls Tshirt – Relax
8. Frankie Goes To Hollywood Tshirt – Relax
9. Beatles T-Shirt – Drum & Bass
10. A-Team Tshirt – Bullets Logo
write by DAVID CABRAL