Slogan tees are back: here’s why

Slogan tees are back: here’s why

by Robyn Pullen
4 min

Why are slogan tees back? From brands releasing t-shirts with ironic slogans inspired by the tongue-in-cheek dialogues of the noughties, to celebrities throwing on tees baring blatant social commentaries, let’s get into the reason behind the rise (and rise) of the slogan tee.

Saying what you really want to say

Back in the ‘00s, slogan tees blew up after the likes of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsey Lohan brought them to the forefront of pop culture. We’ve all seen the viral “DUMP HIM,” “STOP BEING DESPERATE,” and “TEAM ANGELINA” slogan t-shirts celebrities wore at the time, and what made them so iconic is the fact that they were so out of pocket. 

Often dubbed the “clap-back t-shirt”, their tongue-in-cheek catch-phrases were exaggerated and sarcastic iterations of many people’s (particularly women’s) outward views on society at the time. You can see how traditional gender roles and ideologies are dramatised via the slogan tees’ mocking tones, like on Britney Spears’ “MILF IN TRAINING” tank, and that rhetoric still exists today.

A touch of political motivation

The slogan t-shirt has always had an element of political undertone, from Vivienne Westwood’s controversial punk tees in the 1970s, featuring safety pins, badges, and slogans like “SEX,” to Katherine Hamnett’s political agenda in the ‘80s which involved her wearing slogan tees baring anti-nuclear statements to meet political figures. 

It’s not hard to see why slogan tees are effective at pushing a political narrative. As Frank Ocean proved when he wore an anti-hate t-shirt designed by Kayla Robinson to perform at Panorama Festival in 2017, they’re an easy way of getting across a message without even having to open your mouth; anyone in the English speaking world is able to get your point instantly.

Meme culture will never die

Whilst plenty of slogan t-shirts have a serious message to portray in their messaging, others are just here for a laugh. Like Hailey Bieber’s “Nepo Baby” tee or Timothee Chalamet’s hoodie reading “I’m not the step father, I’m the father that stepped up,” a lot of slogans aren’t meant to be taken that seriously. 

For example, Dsquared2’s “Choke” t-shirt, written in the same style as the “Coke” logo, uses the slogan t-shirt’s irony and tongue-in-cheek humour to simply just be funny. In an era where meme culture dominates social media, pop culture, and even everyday conversations, why shouldn’t memes have a place in fashion too?

They’re just plain aesthetically pleasing
NSS Magazine©

The slogan tee has plenty of agendas, but it also just has a really clean, simple, straight to the point aesthetic that fashion seems to love. As seen in the likes of NSS Magazine’s “J’adore Napoli” tee or even the infamous YEEZY x Mowalola “WET” tank, slogan apparel does what it says on the tin, and its use of bold, colour blocking and eye-catching fonts has been adopted time and time again by fashion brands.

The formula might be basic, but it works. Think of Dior’s iconic “J’Adore Dior” t-shirts or even LOEWE’s more recent “I TOLD YA” tee: they’re instantly recognisable, easy to go viral, tend to be timeless, and are so cheap to produce. For fashion Houses, it’s a win-win: you’re basically a walking billboard.

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