Political T-shirt: An Iconic Piece of Clothing from Vivienne Westwood to Maria Grazia Chiuri


  • Eleonora Chiais University of Torino




Political T-shirt, Slogan Tee, Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett, Maria Grazia Chiuri


Launched on the US market in the first decade of the 20th century as a 'bachelor suit' by the Cooper Underwear Company, the T-shirt was christened as such only a few years later when, in 1920, Francis Scott Fitzgerald included a reference to the T-shirt in his This Side of Paradise. From then on, the popularity of this garment grew until it became a transversal must-have. The responsibility for this success (which exploded in the 1950s) was twofold. At the same time, thanks to the simplicity that had always characterised the t-shirt and had allowed it, in its early days, to be proposed as the perfect garment for bachelors, the tee became a uniform for the very young, who used it as a symbol of the rebellion against the interference of the dominant bourgeoisie. Through this mechanism of appropriation the genesis of the political t-shirt had been written: the simplest of garments had become a uniform. Starting from these initial considerations, the contribution - using the methodology of analysis of fashion theories and, in particular, semiotic tools - intends to reflect on the evolution of the t-shirt, focusing on the communicative choices (and consequences) implemented in three specific cases of political t-shirts (the long-sleeved "God Save the Queen" model by Vivienne Westwood in 1977, the "58% Don't Want Pershing" t-shirt by Katharine Hamnett in 1984 and the "We should all be feminist" t-shirt designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior in 2017). 


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How to Cite

Chiais, E. (2023). Political T-shirt: An Iconic Piece of Clothing from Vivienne Westwood to Maria Grazia Chiuri. ZoneModa Journal, 13(2), 79–89. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2611-0563/18457