Exploring the Socio-Political power of the Blank Tee

May 31, 2018

The T-shirt is the chameleon of our wardrobe – its ability to be dressed up or down, a symbol of both chicness and rebellion and an all-around easy go-to has cemented the T-shirt as a key style staple. Not only is the blank tee a fashion icon in its own right, it has reached social and political importance through its adaptability. Alongside major fashion houses, streetwear brands and style icons have long used the T-shirt as a garment of self-expression. Its universality allows for anyone to style it for their own individuality and values.   

The Textile Museum’s exhibition, T-shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion depicted just how the t-shirt has evolved from a men’s undergarment to a universal symbol of fashion, power, and activism. More than 100 examples of the garment’s impact through history were exhibited, including a private collection of Vivienne Westwood’s DIY T-shirts adorned with provocative images and rebellious statements.


Vivienne Westwood is not the only designer who has used the blank tee as a canvas to generate social and political messages, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s infamous “We Should All Be Feminists” tees from her debut collection at Dior similarly shows the T-shirt as a powerful medium for such a growing socially aware climate. 

From high fashion to street fashion, every day wear to special occasion, the T-shirt’s multi-faceted appeal allows all of us to declare who we are and what we believe.

Words by Mirabella Shahidullah