Saturday, October 17, 2009

CHOOSE LIFE or The Appeal of the Slogan T-shirt

A couple of years ago I fell in love with Henry Holland's cheeky fashion slogan t-shirts. I have the one that says "Do Me Daily Christopher Bailey":

But the idea seemed familiar... Of course it did! I am a HUGE George Michael fan and I do forget a face and a name but I NEVER forget what people are wearing. What those cheeky House of Holland t-shirts were reminding me of was the "Choose Life" t-shirt that George Michael wore of the "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" video from my High School days:

God... George was a sweet piece of delicious baklava...

But where did those t-shirts come from? I mean Henners Holland was probably in his nappies in 1984 and Agy Deyn was still performing extremely cool cellular subdivision.

Well I am reading this great book called THE FASHION CONSPIRACY: The Dazzling Inside Story of the Glamorous World of International High Fashion by Nicholas Coleridge and the book gave me the answer: it was Katherine Hamnett.

Katherine Hamnett (like Henry Holland) built a brand on that George Michael t-shirt,and became the undisputed queen of the protest slogan t-shirt with thousands of imitators and celebrities wearing them everywhere as you can see in this photo of Boy George:

The other day I was at H&M and I found a wonderful slogan t-shirt from a line that H&M did to support HIV causes and prevention :

Not only is it a wonderful cause, they are right now on clearance for only $5!

Here is a little more about Katherine Hamnett from an interview she did about her influence on '80's fashion, her philosophy and her line's re-launch:

What was happening in the eighties fashion world?

My clothes became unbelievably successful - beyond my wildest dreams. Menswear, womenswear, jeans, watches and of course, my slogan t-shirts.

Sarah Mower said I was the most copied designer in the world - to the point where I had to consider designing something I would be happy to see copied.
What eighties fashion did you introduce?

I made protest slogan t-shirts a fashion, social and political staple.

I also invented distressed denim, stonewash denim, stretch denim, parachute silk, garment dyeing, the crumpled look, military inspired sportswear, power dressing, leggings, lycra, jump suits, retro revivals and ethical and environmental clothing.
You were a massive influence. Tell us more.

I art directed killer ad campaigns. I discovered photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, Jurgen Teller and Terry Richardson.

My eighties fashion campaigns were the first for Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, Nadia Auermaan and others.
What drove the need for change?

By 1989 I was bored with success. Something was missing.

Buddhist philosophy talks about the need for 'right' livelihood (making a living without hurting anyone or anything). I thought I wasn't hurting anyone by making clothes but when I did the research I realised I was wrong.

I discovered the fashion industry was responsible for a living environmental nightmare. (See 'Clean Up Or Die Essay') Millions of people in the garment sector were working in conditions of slavery.

I was horrified and felt a moral imperative to do something.
What did you do about this environmental catastrophe?

From 1989 to 2003 I tried to change the industry from within. Forget it.

From 2003 to 2007 I realised consumers care even if industries and politicians don't. Industries must sell but consumers don't have to buy. I decided to raise consumer awareness of issues in the clothing industry.

On return from a 2003 Oxfam visit to Mali, having seen firsthand the devastating human suffering amongst conventional cotton farmers, I knew the solution was organic cotton.

I decided to drive demand for organic cotton clothing and help conventional cotton farmers' trade their way out of poverty.
What does this mean to the person on the street?

My re-launched Katharine E Hamnett menswear and womenswear includes re-issued eighties fashion slogan t-shirts made with organic cotton to the highest ethical and environmental standards in the world.

I got another pretty righteous t-shirt from House of Holland when I was in Paris last spring on a business trip and decided to stop by the fashion Mecca that is Colette. This one was a store exclusive from House of Holland's Flower Power Collection. It's Ms. Beth Ditto in all of her punk rocking glory:

T shirts are an easy way to inject self-expression to your style, they are a lot of fun and they look good on everybody. Ahh the stretchability of cotton jersey, Blessed Be :-). And they are timeless fashion pieces. Just think of how priced vintage concert t-shirts are nowadays.. And vintage Viv Westwood ones...

You can find Katherine Hamnett's t-shirts at H&M ( if you can still find any on clearance) or at her online store at :

You can find House of Holland t-shirts at:
Click on collections and you will be directed to his shop.


Fashionable Earth said...

Love this ! Love 80s fashion ! Read our take on it:

Milla said...

Me too... I have never grown out of it really...
I will check out your blog.
Thank you!

Milla said...

BTW... Loved your blog!
I am adding you to my blogroll :-)

Anonymous said...

In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. 7f4o2x2o2p9q7u9a 4m4p3h0d4z9y3v3m 0b6z9j0l1t4e8d0c 4i4g4o4a8g3u4i4f 7p6n4i3a5k4c2u2m 1y4f8k6w2c6v3n3m 2a0h2l3l6r6o9x9e 0i3s4f5r6h5c3z0d 4t6z8j1b4m2y5b1f 9u5n2l2w7j8t1v8v 4j8b2v0t0l5t4i1l

Anonymous said...

beats by dr dre nlxvzjgj beats by dre wwsqioya beats dr dre svhvwaqt beats for sale dfsvjmlj beats headphones jvrilvbl cheap monster beats xgtcspvq dr dre beats ctelsvno dr dre headphones zjvzrtdj monster beats by dre pumicuar monster beats headphones ctleceqi monster beats zzpuofcj monster headphones uojhiena

Anonymous said...

nike outlet glzdtzqq cheap nike shoes jbqjwdge cheap nike zfoqfqms nike shoes

Anonymous said...

chi flat iron fdsmoahz chi hair products cyfxdwbw chi hair straightener nniczbjg chi iron mhidfnzb chi straightener johpywxn chi straighteners fkotwytd chi dcmvjric