Flashback Fashion Friday: Katharine Hamnett

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Slogan tees have always been a wardrobe staple but they’ve really become hot on the runway for the last several seasons. From runways to street wear, you can find designers like Henry Holland and MTTM adapt a say anything bravado. Even brands like Hood by Air with their in your face branding make an impact on your fashion statements. What better way to express yourself than by wearing it across your chest. In the early 80s british designer Katharine Hamnett ruled the slogan tee.
Club kids and bands alike used her tees to touch on the political views of the moment from AIDS to the cold war. Or to just piss people off! The youth used fashion to speak up.
People did of course manipulate her slogans for their own agendas. Her “choose life” tees as donned by WHAM, (cue Zoolander Orange Mocha Frappucino scene) was directed towards drug abuse and suicide, but later on people used it to encourage the pro-life movement. I guess you were left to interpret the tees for yourself.
You can’t deny how impactful these were at the time. It was everyone’s way of standing up for something, although sadly I’m sure most people never took their political activism farther (remember your 3rd grade friends with their save the whales tees). But it did give fashion a bit of a safe edge, when punk was too unapproachable and madonna look-a-likes weren’t taken very seriously.

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Visit Katharine Hamnett’s site for more info and archive pics.


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