Pervert 17

A look at the most recent from the cabinet of curious t-shirts, care of one Ricardo Tisci.


When Ricardo Tisci turned a rottweiler into a style muse, I have to admit that I was impressed. The gates of commerce heaven opened for the brand – Givenchy – whose simple black cotton t-shirt sold out on every sales floor it hit. And though Tisci’s incipient intention may not have been what resonated with his army of devout consumers (a classic case of Blinded by The Label, perhaps), that seems irrelevant in hindsight.

This season his ubiquitous black t-shirt is no longer festooned by the K9 of 2011. In fact, from the front you’d never even know that it was Givenchy, and if from behind that merit still held true I’d have to surrender envied fascination once again. The man puts his label in a Fruit of The Loom t-shirt, slaps a $300 price tag on it and just like that, it’s gone? That isn’t quite the case here, though. While the front maintains an unstained canvas, the rear reveals a team jersey-inspired style, with a twist: “17” sits just below the word “pervert.”

And for exactly $325 (though not at Barneys, where it is already sold out), you, too, can declare yourself a pervert. Stamped, of course, with the approval of Givenchy.

Wait, what?

As my friend Sophie put it, “honestly? I’d rather be friends with an actual pervert than one who would spend $300 to call himself one.” It’s hard to overlook that the number “17” represents the final year of a minor’s legally defined childhood, and the obvious controversy here (or lack thereof; why has no one else commented on this?) is that in creating this t-shirt – providing the opportunity for self-expression by way of fashion – Givenchy makes what the dictionary calls “a lack of morality” quite popular. Who would willfully sign up for that? Obviously a lot of someones, as the shirt has already sold out on and likely faces a similar fiscally pleasing fate at Luisa Via Roma.

According to Bryan Boy, who has already modeled the Pervert tee on his fashion blog, our take on “pervert” may simply be a speech discrepancy. “What I love about the t-shirt is that it encapsulates a lot of what I’m feeling right now. It’s obscene in many ways. Only someone fashionably-perverted would pay $325 for a straight-up black cotton t-shirt that probably takes less than $5 to make. The label whore in me says ‘Buy it, it’s a no brainer’ simply because it’s Givenchy.”

If we think about the word as a verb, perversion can mean corruption in any capacity, rooted in sexuality or not. And to be fair, our assumptions may likely pervert the designer’s actual motive in creating the shirt. In a 2011 interview by Donatella Versace, Tisci explains, “I hate vulgarity. I hate vulgarity even though it attracts me—and it attracts me very much. I love all that is transgressive or vulgar.” Taking the designer’s mindset into account, it’s easy to imagine that for Tisci, there’s more to the shirt than simply a commerce-friendly wink.

To that point, if held up as a piece of modern art, would the sentiment receive acclaim instead of admonishment? And if that’s the case, what exactly is our problem with a person using this t-shirt as a self-expressive vessel? Maybe it just seems vile to us in a way that is tantamount to putting a “barely legal” t-shirt on an infant.

But who are we to begrudge something that allows self-expression and starts a dialogue, especially as champions of doing just that? Regardless of our gut reaction, we have to appreciate that a simple black t-shirt can spur the conversation.

By Leandra Medine and Kate Barnett

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  • Mary

    would it sell the same if it said ‘sucker’

    • Amatoria Clothing

      Yes because then the blogger would say… “I’m a sucker for Givenchy”… GAG

  • andrieya

    why not something a little more kid friendly? like WHORE

  • Lulu

    OT: Leandra, I need help. I have a fabulous white suit that I love but have NO IDEA how to style as separates (particulary the blazer). It should work ALL THE TIME, but it doesn’t. Please note: I do not have the legs for short shorts. How many different ways to style a white blazer?

    • Niki

      i know im not leandra, but i think that a button down shirt tucked into a high waisted skirt, and then maybe some high heels with an ankle strap (the kind that is extremely popular right now) will look great! the high wasted skirt should elongate your legs, and is mostly flattering on most body types, i find

  • Sam

    The whole analysis of perversion, like is this shirt making more of an artistic statement than originally meets the eye, is an interesting commentary but any way you spin it I think it’s pretty absurd that people are spending $325 on a basic tee. In my opinion that type of shopping behavior kind of illuminates the difference between style and fashion… fashion seems to become more and more synonymous with being able to spend money these days. Whereas style is innate, it transcends budget. Are you stylish because you can afford to buy into every “it item” of the moment at any price? No, but people probably think you’re fashionable.

    • Charlotte

      Any differentiation between stylish and fashionable dressing seems muddled as trends are force-fed to us via social media and street style, creating an illusion that what you’re seeing is what is stylish and fashionable. Trends are being forced to develop and disappear so quickly and it is hard for us to tell if we authentically like them or not. There is no time for them to settle and for us to see them in person or on the actual street, not just mediated through a screen garnering a lot of “likes.” This makes it hard for style to permeate, especially with items like this one which incorporate irony, humor and perversity (literally in this case) and are quick crowd pleasers. I think you’re right that style is innate, and it seems like it is harder to come by and decipher those who have genuine style these days.

  • Amatoria Clothing

    I feel that fashion is a medium of communication. Any type of communication is inherently inefficient because we can never fully know what another person is thinking or feeling. We interpret it to the meaning we think it should have.
    In this case, a major brand or celebrity will always have a certain number of people who think anything they say or do is the best thing since the invention of the fucking CRONUT. On the other hand, there will also be a lot of people who will be up in arms about it. For better or worse, it’s just part of fame.

  • pseudonym

    Increasingly so, Givenchy collections are made up of clothing that no one would like if it was not labeled “Givenchy”. Tisci had a hard start at the brand. He really hit his stride around Spring 2010. But the last two collections were pretty weak. Maybe his history will be more “on trend” than “great designer”.

    • Amen to this. I feel like they aren’t the only brand that this applies too. But if enough people call it cool it will be cool that’s how it works IMO.

  • I would like it a bit more if it didn’t have the huge 17 stamped on. I can live with the pervert part, but the underage stuff is not really chic. Anyway I’m not paying 300$ for a shirt anytime soon.

  • I wouldn’t buy it. I agree with the poster below about the random number being on it.

  • Chanel N.

    Soooo… you ended up buying the shirt anyway?

  • Samantha

    Leandra, I was reading an article yesterday titled “When they were 20”. I couldn’t help but wonder…what were you doing at the age of 20? Would you have ever believed that a few years from then you would have been the mastermind behind ManRepeller?

  • Andrew

    Sometimes, label trumps design.

  • I don’t know I watch the news too much, i can’t really praise the shirt even if BB has come up with some way to deflect that very…touchy subject. Personally i don’t care for the shirt..and 90% of the time i’m not here for BB anyway…

    Yet I can take you to the hood mall where they print shirts right on the spot a shirt like this runs you twenty bucks if that. So no I don’t fall under that category of buying something so basic for so much mulah.

  • Zoe

    eh bryan boy wore it and looked ok

    • xoxo

      looked ok? are you serious~ it looked tacky on him

  • Dorus Mhor

    Sophie hit it right on the dot. However as a gift I’d wear it.

  • I remember a trend in the UK circa 1995, when I was wearing a “Cunt” tee…

    Mafalda ❤

  • Marie

    Love it

  • Giulia

    I like the fact that you are always polite and open to a dialogue, but let’s face it, this t shirt is simply offensive and has no “deep” or “artistic” meaning at all. it s simply provocative and offensive (in my opinion). I consider whoever will buy this (AT THIS PRICE!!!) a bit of a stupid. There is no need to spend so much on a t-shirt. What will be next?? “RAPE”??

  • Gloria

    Honestly, I wouldn’t pay $300 for a basic tshirt that I could get for $10. Even if it’s Givenchy.

  • I liked the Rottweiler t-shirts, but everything after that has been tainted by the fact that Givenchy isn’t so much about great design as it is about the label itself. Each season the prices seem to increase and the standard of what’s being sold is cringeworthy. A severe case of “Blinded by The Label” indeed.

    • Stephanie

      So true about the prices!

  • Jenn

    hahah I can’t believe this is sold out! It reminds me of the MLM tops except I think if I had to pay any price I’d much rather pay a fraction of the $325 and have a shirt that says Jagger 43.


  • I think the most perverted thing about this whole t-shirt is spending over $300 on it. The perverted vs. perversion is really open to interpretation, but I think we can conclude that Tisci has taken full advantage of his market that was widely stimulated by the music industry.

    • Crystal

      He’s definitely taking advantage of the market! Spot on.


    So stupid, what an idiotic shirt.

  • Nooooo Blinded by the label syndrome..

  • If you got the money and you love the shirt, go for it. 😀 I’m sure there will be a $20 rip-off soon enough for everyone else that wants to label themselves pervert.

  • Lois

    Only one thing came to mind when I saw this: Penn State

  • Tanya

    THIS IS BRILLIANT! Hahaha I need this in my life but without the expensive price tag. This amazes me.

    Tanya |

  • Crystal

    I’m all for vulgarity and fashion and but this is just lazy and a bit tawdry. I just can’t help but to think that Ricardo was just effing around just to see if he could get suckers to buy. Obviously, he won.

  • Pervert 17, is quite impressive.

  • This shirt seems so idiotic but I am none the less drawn to the off-shoot “Hentai 00” shirt.