Statement tees are now a canvas for celebrities, and even common folk, to express themselves. “Whether it is a politically charged statement or a tongue-in-cheek quote, we are seeing them everywhere; from casual airport looks to even red carpet appearances,” says Head Stylist Shirin Salwan from Pernia's Pop-Up Shop.
“This is a tricky trend because these messages can sometimes be misconstrued and it leads to controversy more often than not. However, fashion has now learnt to break stereotypes and the rise of various subcultures as well as street-style has made brands rethink their image and take more risks,” she adds.
Reshma Gangji, founder of Libas, adds, “Statement tees have the capacity to make self expression easier and social messages can be given huge coverage. Hence it is a powerful medium. Fashion has been used often to spread consciousness about sensitive social topics.”
History of the slogan tee
The humble T-shirt that we don so effortlessly today has had quite the history. From being a casual outfit to sending out a message, T-shirts are now in a fashion league of their own. Slogan tees that have swiftly gained popularity had their beginnings in London in the ’60s. It ushered in a political wave in the ’70s when Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcolm McLaren sold the famous T-shirts featuring a Swastika and an inverted crucifix under the word ‘Destroy’.
But we can’t talk about slogan T-shirts without mentioning Katharine Hamnett, who was dressed in a “58% Don't Want Pershing” T-shirt and shook 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 end of the cold war.) The T-shirt ‘gave her a voice’, she was quoted saying.
From then on, the slogan tee has made its way from being simple street style fashion to ramp-worthy fashion. And it has been used in tactical ways, either sporting tongue-in-cheek humour or making a political statement.
Making a statement
Our very own celebrities have taken to this trend on countless occasions. We rounded up a few of our favourites.
Damsel, not in distress
Bipashu Basu makes a point in her ‘Not All Princesses Need To Be Rescued’ T-shirt. We’re hoping the knights in their shining armour get the hint.
Feminism for all
Benedict Cumberbatch embraces the F-word as he poses for Elle UK for their feminism issue. Actors Tom Hiddleston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt also showed their support by posing in these tees.
For your information
Sporting a ‘Comfortably Single’ T-shirt is Sushant Singh Rajput’s way of silencing the chatty paparazzi without having to utter a word.
We love how candid Varun Dhawan can be and his wardrobe choice reflected the same in this ‘Honestly Don’t Care’ pink tee.
Voice against violence
Kareena Kapoor Khan twins with Malaika Arora as they channelise their inner feminist in these ‘End Violence Against Women’ tees from Dolce & Gabbana.
Working out a bargain
Ileana D’cruz sports this totally relatable ‘Will Work Out For Fries’ T-shirt, which every gym goer will want to get their hands on.
Poking fun at herself
Victoria Bekham has repeatedly been asked why she doesn’t smile when taking pictures. We couldn’t help but chuckle when she stepped out in this ‘Fashion Stole My Smile’ tee.
Five ways to sport the trend
“Fashion continues to be an artistic way of expressing oneself,” says fashion and lifestyle influencer, Maia Sethna Malhotra. Statement tees/ slogan tees allow the wearer to speak their mind - be it an important political message or a sassy quote. She shares five tips to rock this trend:
1 - Style the slogan tee with joggers and sneakers if you want to go down the athleisure route and wear it while travelling.
2 - Wear your slogan tee for a night out. Tuck it into a high waist skirt, add layered necklaces and throw on a pair of high heels to complete the look.
3 - Keep it simple with a pair of jeans. You can wear it with a pair of ripped jeans and flats for a more casual look or skinny jeans with ballerina flats or heels for a more chic vibe.
4 - For a look that’s suitable for an evening out or a meeting you can style it with a tailored black blazer and boots.
5 - Throw on a trench or oversized denim jacket for a layered look. You can wear this with shorts or leggings.