On Graphic Tees
They’re kind of like ephemeral tattoos if you think about it
Fran Lebowitz once wrote, “If people don’t want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?” In George Saunder’s The Brain Dead Megaphone, he invites his readers to imagine a man at a party, speaking into a megaphone. The man may not have much to say but because’s he’s on high volume, everyone can hear him. Whether the party guests want to or not, they’re forced to listen and as a result, even in spite of the hollow information being distributed, their conversations become about that which the man with a megaphone is saying.
This may be a dramatic stretch, but could it be that fashion’s equivalent of the megaphone is the influx of graphic tees now comprehensively permeating the industry across the verticals of both high and fast fashion? Maybe. But what if people do want to listen – they’re just unaware of it yet.
I have always found it comical, if not slightly strange and incredibly interesting that when I see infants wearing graphics, I actually believe they’re speaking to me. Some of the more common tees and onesies include, “I love my mommy,” or “Daddy’s girl.” Immediately, my assumption is, as the shirts suggest, the fertile baldies in question love their parents. The fact of the matter is, though, they don’t even know where their noses are. I am completely aware of this. So why is it that the graphics put me off?
Fashion is no doubt a form of expression. I’d even argue that our outfitting choices sometimes function as ephemeral tattoos that allow us to speak using our bodies. The difference is that we can effectively revoke the statement whenever we please. A graphic t-shirt that includes words or a clear sentiment should probably crystallize the makeshift, fleeting tattoo which is why I’ve been wondering how often people actually believe in the graphics they’re wearing.
It occurred to me when I first saw and really, really liked Reason’s “Aint Laurent without Yves” t-shirt that I probably couldn’t wear it. It’s incredibly witty but I love the new Saint Laurent. Then again though, as an irony enthusiast who may enjoy ruffling some feathers now and again, my wearing American Apparel’s “All blogs post the same stuff” tee last September during Fashion Week came from nowhere but my acknowledging that I’m a blogger — and if you’re going to make fun of me, I’m going to make fun of me, too.
This, of course, leaves me slightly conflicted. While it seems important to remain true to your tattoo and the story you’re using your clothing to tell, what happens when irony gets lost on your audience? Seems like social experiment (shopping) time, doesn’t it? Here are some of our favorite t-shirts.
Why Rock Destroys Your Mind by R13, available at Net-a-Porter. Hero muscle tee, available at Nasty Gal. Jaws tank, available at Forever 21 and I am a sucker for the #OOTD one, from the same place. Good Life Kanye tee, via Colette and while we’re talking pop-culture, here’s Drake with finger ‘stache by Asos. “Eternal Pizza Party” by Eleven is also available at Asos, and finally, we bring you femininity distilled using white cotton and a black, block letter type face.