The humble T-shirt is one of the most underrated assets in your wardrobe. Once summer has passed it’s often hidden underneath warmer layers, so you’d be forgiven for paying less attention than you would to your statement outerwear, but it’s still there, ever-present.
With that in mind, it’s easier to keep things simple and plain, especially if you worry about garish graphics or the nonsensical logo trend making you look like your teenage self, or that you’re due a day of catching up with the laundry.
But unless you’re after a neat, minimalist look, there are plenty of ways to play with prints that’ll add a touch of flavour to your outfits. Printed tees don’t have to be loud or overpowering – the simplicity of some can add another dimension to getups, softening smarter looks or bringing an added statement to simpler outfits.
The Rise Of The Graphic T-Shirt
In recent years, with streetwear trends infiltrating high fashion along with bootleg brands producing retro, satirical and one-of-a-kind designs, graphic prints have returned in a more accessible and desirable way.
Legacy fashion houses with iconic prints, logos or emblems like Kenzo, Gucci, Saint Laurent and Burberry have elevated things, placing their designs at the fore in recent collections, reclaiming the graphic T-shirt’s simple way of adding identity to a look.
Stylist and brand consultant Sam Thompson agrees nostalgia is at the heart of the trend: “I love old band tees, so when a brand does a spin on one it reminds me of something I’d buy at a gig when I was younger. It’s a nod to a certain era – it’s nice to dig into the archives and reissue iconic logos”.
It’s interesting now how the trend has become self-referential too, with high-end designers altering their own logos to appear as fakes. Bootleg brands have always played around with high-fashion or established sports brand logos, but now, designers like Alessandro Michele at Gucci are flipping the script and “producing logos which mimic the bootleg pieces found in markets.” Fashion is a weird game.
Ways To Wear The Slogan T-Shirt
Nineties inspiration is omnipresent in fashion these days and it doesn’t come in a more blatant form than the logo tee. The understated staple of your favourite streetwear brands has been adopted by high fashion designers recently, who’ve raided the archives for old icons and emblems that they can place big and bold in the centre of the tee for all to see.
Here we’re talking about the ultimate Instagram-friendly brag, so choose one that boasts more than mundane typography and opt for Kenzo’s ‘Dragon Tiger’ tee or a classic Gucci logo one. The branding does the talking here, so keep things neat and minimal elsewhere to really let it shine or pop it under a neat blazer for the ultimate smart casual upgrade.
For every on-the-nose, literal take on a trend, an ironic satire won’t be too far behind. We’ve seen it in fun, nostalgia-tinged throwbacks from brands such as Homage Tees, which turn you into a walking meme (it looks better than it sounds, trust us). But it’s bootleg brands that have thrived in the graphic tee department of late.
You might be familiar with the infamous Corbyn Nike tee, which dominated our Instagram feeds during the General Election in 2017, while North London-based Sports Banger has been flipping logos and bootlegging your favourite ‘90s brands to unique effect for years. Keep things casual when rocking the bootleg look – opt for some technical joggers and throw on a pair of classic kicks to accompany them.
Despite being a mainstay in the wardrobes of music’s most passionate disciples since the ‘70s, the band tee, these days, possesses serious style cachet. Fashion-conscious celebs like Justin Bieber and Kanye West have been big fans of the trend, mixing in retro merch with new designs or creating their own lines inspired by previous bands.
The latter’s Yeezus brand nods at Metallica’s typographic style – it’s always been bands from rock and punk movements that prove most fruitful when it comes to converting music memorabilia into desirable clothing. To avoid heckles of ‘name five of their albums mate!’, the key is in the styling.
Embrace the aesthetic – stick to monochrome tones and choose an oversized fit. Layer it over a long-sleeved tee in the inverse colour to keep the graphic at the heart of your outfit, and keep your jeans on the skinny side or ripped to really nail the look. You can even distress your jeans at home if you want a unique look.
When maxing out on T-shirt prints, the smaller the graphics the better – too big and you’re bordering on poolside attire (think your dad’s most garish of holiday shirts). Of course, the safer amongst us could opt for a classic Breton, but for the more sartorially adventurous, try geometrics, camo and tie-dye options.
Don’t be perturbed by the busy print – it’s easier than you think to slot into your everyday looks. Simply work it under a smart Oxford shirt or bomber jacket and go for smart, tapered trousers below the belt to let the graphics add a touch of character to a neat outfit.
Vans At ASOS
The reverse print is a sartorial gem that is easily overlooked, but it provides the perfect entry point to graphics for minimalist lovers – mainly because it’s all business up front and party in the back. But just because you’re not wearing you prints on your chest, doesn’t mean that it isn’t making as strong a statement as a big bold emblem.
In fact, with a back print, you’re giving yourself a bigger and better canvas to display your choice of art on. These work best when on a long-sleeved silhouette (anything you can do to avoid throwing another layer over the top and covering your print) which can be tucked in for a strong Scandi touch. Should you need to throw a jacket on however, make sure your tee is a bold hue and ensure the outer layer is in a dark tone so it still pops.