In celebration of the slogan t-shirt…

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I remember as a teenager, I ached to stand out of the generic dress-coded crowd – everyone in blue jeans, usually ripped, and orange or lime tops, for back then – the late 1980s – those were the colours palmed off to the masses. I remember shopping frantically at stores like Wheels & Dolls Baby, El Dorado and Subway DC, in search of t-shirts that would “say something” but alas could only find a few so had to make some of my own.

Fast forward to 2013 and slogan t-shirts are not only universally common, a postmodern DIY philosophy allows us to emblazon our tees with just about anything we bloody well want. Hop online and you can shop at either outlets that have ready-made unique-like tees (only so far as there’s such an immense variety of them) on sites such as Threadless (t-shirts start at $9.95 here), or you could visit design-it-yourself e-stores like Vistaprint and get just about anything printed on cloth for around five bucks (with about the same cost for the postage to your door).

Currency in slogan tees has changed dramatically. Where once it cost upward of $50 for a decent t-shirt (and that’s not even considering the expensive likes of Vivienne Westwood and Katherine Hamnett), now you can have anything feature on a tee for under 10 dollars. Basically, then, there’s absolutely no excuse not to have an original wardrobe these days…

But I digress, the real purpose of this article is to praise the vivid new coffee table book Slogan T-Shirts: Cult And Culture. Collated by freelance stylist and creative consultant Stephanie Talbot, the book looks at the t-shirt as medium of pertinent modern messages. It canvases everything from the hey-day of hippydom (the late 1960s) and punk (the ’70s) through to the outlandishly bold ’80s and today’s loose, illustratively-heavy t-shirt designs.

Indeed, the book kicks off with commentary of the juxtaposing use of images of Osama Bin Laden in 2002, where the writer sees the despot’s face on tees on punters at markets in Ghana – splashed with the words “I heart Bin Laden”, then weeks later the same portrait on clubbers in London, albeit stamped with the one word – “Wanted”. This social dissonance is the main thrust of Slogan T-Shirts: Cult And Culture, where one man’s message sent might mean something altogether different to the person reading it.

So keep this in mind next time you want to make a “statement” with your t-shirt, folks. 


Slogan T-Shirts: Cult And Culture is published through Bloomsbury, RRP $35.00.