Fashion / Trend

The slogan tee is back – and these are the most iconic ones to get your hands on

The slogan tee is back – and these are the most iconic ones to get your hands on

Fashion has inherently been a way to state our piece to the world without having to open our mouths – but the slogan tee takes this one step further. It's been popular for decades and perhaps has become one of the most impactful ways fashion has been used as forms of statement and protest in history.


Where did it originate?

The origin of slogan t-shirts dates back to the 1940s, initially donned as part of political campaigns as a way to spread a candidate's slogans. Amidst the social upheaval and rebellion of the 1960s, the trend picked up pace. Designers in the 80s – like Westwood and Hamnett – brought the trend to the mainstream with their infamous runway designs, and led to the moment where Hamnett herself wore an anti-nuclear statement t-shirt while shaking hands with the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The stunt gave life to plenty of the era's most iconic t-shirt phrases –  from 'Frankie says relax' to 'Choose life'. Henry Holland's tongue-in-cheek slogan tees of the 2000s, like 'Cause me pain Hedi Slimane' or 'Let's breed Bella Hadid' carried on the legacy of the slogan tee – and opened the floodgates for further designers, like Dior's Maria Grazia Chiuri, Alexander Wang and Vetements to do the same.


What are some of the most iconic slogan t-shirt moments?

Of course, we can't overlook the influence of celebrity culture on the sales of slogan tees. Constantly under the spotlight, Hollywood's most notable residents have often opted for a slogan tee as a way to send out a message – be it political, satirical or just plain fun – to the world (a way to circumvent the irony of their voicelessness despite their platforms). From Britney Spears’s legendary "Dump Him" shirt that she wore for the paparazzi after she and Justin Timberlake broke-up, to Hailey Bieber's "Nepo Baby" self-referential crop top – they've become a pop culture mainstay.



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Where to shop the trend?

1. Rihanna 'I'm Retired' Shirt

Rihanna's 90s-inspired slogan tee, which she donned earlier this week in paparazzi photos while out and about in NYC, has been making the rounds online for its fairly tongue-in-cheek reference to her long-time hiatus from the music scene (with the notable exception of her single for the Smurfs soundtrack). Of course, she's been busy building a beauty and fashion empire – and producing several, adorable heirs with A$AP Rocky – so we forgive her for not finding the time. At least we can snap up this shirt online while we wait in perpetuity for R9.


2. VICTORIA BECKHAM 'My Dad Had A Rolls-Royce' Slogan T-Shirt In White

What started as a viral comment spouted on their family Netflix documentary Beckham last year, and now Victoria Beckham herself – our self-aware queen – has capitalised on it with a t-shirt. It's a perfectly if-you-know-you-know shirt for Beckham fans and pop culture enthusiasts. Made even better if your 'working class' Dad did, in fact, own a Rolls Royce growing up.


3. DIOR 'We should all be feminists' T-Shirt

Perhaps one of Maria Grazia Chiuri's most defining pieces was from her debut collection at the House of Dior – and now, years later, the We Should All Be Feminists tee has inarguably become part of the quintessential Dior cannon. It's since been donned by Rihanna and Natalie Portman to Karlie Kloss and A$AP Rocky – and you can still pick up your own on the Dior website.


4. LOEWE 'I Told Ya' Shirt

If you've seen Luca Guadagnino's love-triangle tennis film Challengers this year, then you understand the importance of Loewe's new 'I Told Ya' slogan tee. It's got plenty of lore behind it, but the shirt is still making waves – with the film's costume designer and Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson dressing nearly all of the film's stars – and its director – in the bold-type tee.


5. ALIX HIGGINS 'Tulips, Roses' Knit

In Australia, there's no one who does the slogan tee quite like designer Alix Higgins. His schtick has always been text-type graphics on knits, tees and slinky bike shorts – always emblazoned with whimsical and dream-like phrases. His most recent AFW 2024 show featured these knits with the slogan 'tulips, roses' on the front – and they're now available to pre-order on his site.


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