Slogans make a statement


2017 summer is all set to begin its journey. I can hear the background music, "are we there yet?" Well almost. And this trip has to be made in staple cotton Tshirt. Strong colors and stronger messages.

T-shirts have come a long way, from its humble counter-culture origins to its current status as a high-street fashion staple. Slogan on the T-shirt have become bolder and better.

The history of the t-shirt all started in the early 1900s during WWI. U.S. soldiers realized the Europeans had comfortable looking cotton shirts on and they figured those must be much better than the wool uniforms they were wearing. Next thing you know cotton shirts shaped like the letter T emerged into the battlefield.

Funnily enough, it was actually considered rude to see someone wearing a t-shirt as an over shirt akin to walking down the block with nothing but boxers on. Not until after WWII did people begin to accept the t-shirt completely, as t-shirts were used during presidential campaigns.

Air Corps Gunnery School T-shirt featured on the July 13th, 1942 cover of LIFE magazine is often credited with first printed tee (at least being worn in the left photo).

Marlon Brando took it to the next level with the one he wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire. Till then, it was considered a dress code made for veterans and blue collar workers.

T-shirt takes its place of pride along with jeans and the little black dress, as a fashion item that has gone beyond fashion. But trends in T-shirts have kept with time, and right now, it's all about the message.

However, T-shirt has long been a means of telling the world what we care about.

It all started with T-shirts were sold by Mr Freedom in the 60s, a shop on London's Kings Road set up by Tommy Roberts and Trevor Myles. Its Disney designs, with images of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, were quickly snapped up.

Katharine Hamnett was the woman credited with pioneering the slogan T-shirts Dressed in a "58% Don't Want Pershing" T-shirt, she was photographed shaking hands with the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher at a Downing Street reception for London fashion week designers in 1984. (The slogan referred to public opposition to the basing of US Pershing missiles in the UK at the tail end of the cold war.)

Hamnett's designs were copied all over the world. This one statement become a trendsetter of sorts, popularized by pop singers, and activists alike.

"I wanted to put a really large message on T-shirts that could be read from 20 or 30ft away," she says now. "Slogans work on so many different levels; they're almost subliminal. They're also a way of people aligning themselves to a cause. They're tribal. Wearing one is like branding yourself."

Her Pershing T-shirt was "a bit of a practical joke, really. I'd been invited to No 10 and didn't want to go, but I realised it was a photo opportunity and I should grab it. That T-shirt gave me a voice."

So if you plan to get something off your chest, what's the best way to go about it? The last word must surely go to Hamnett. "A successful T-shirt has to make you think but then, crucially, you have to act," she says. "What's tragic is that most of these messages [from the 80s] are still relevant today. These problems - nuclear weapons, world poverty and famine - are still around".

Message branding took 2016 fashion by storm, but for 2017, brands are focused less on themselves and more on getting a message of togetherness across. This year the message is more sublime. Michael Kors is spreading the word love in his latest collection, Haider Ackermann wants everyone to be your own hero on tees, and Dior?s chose prolific writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?s phrase we should all be feminists.

Our indie designers are not far behind and they have come up with a plethora of funny and local messages which highlight the humorous side of India. Covetlo has curated an entire range from various designers. So get ready for summer and grab one.

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