Unlikely Style Icons: The Graphic Tee

Unlikely Style Icons: The Graphic Tee

Unlikely Style Icons: The Graphic Tee

Between the 70’s and 90’s the graphic tee exploded and was commonly used to advertise and communicate anything you desired. Political slogans, musical taste, which sports team you supported, where you worked and more…The style and how you wore it was the cherry on top, a signifier to whatever message you wanted to convey.

Punk brands and labels championed the printed tee. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s Seditionaries label and SEX boutique store, bands like the Ramones, Bad Brains, and Black Flag would set the standard for originality. These young creators would spawn thousands of imitators and adaptations of this DIY and punk aesthetic.

Today the graphic tee is a staple for designers. Tees with slogans, logos, original or parody artwork are a cornerstone to some of the world’s biggest brands originating in skating, hip hop, graffiti, and punk culture and it's easy to see why. There's something appealing about its ease and directness. Kurt Cobain shone a light on an underground musical hero, Daniel Johnston, and The Sex Pistols pushed their aesthetic to the brink with blistering graphics and progressive stances on fashion, all done through the graphic T-Shirt.