Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Statements, Truisms and Text

[Image credits: 'This Is No Fantasy' by Jenny Holzer, taken from; 'Girl Going To Work In An Office' t-shirt by Antoni & Alison for Uniqlo, taken from; 'I Can't Tell You' by Jenny Holzer, taken from].

I've always been a big fan of slogan t-shirts and artwork; I wrote my dissertation on textual art, exploring the work of Jenny Holzer (as seen above), Tracey Emin and other artists who are handy with words. I love the honesty and direct nature of this genre and it appeals to the side of me that wants to tell people what I really think of them, when otherwise I'd keep my mouth shut. Over the years in my wardrobe, I've worn every slogan from 'Give Generously' to 'Pop Music Is Wasted On The Young', and I enjoy having something in my outfit that becomes a talking point. Obviously it's less fun when you get a really slow reader, or someone who doesn't understand sarcasm, asking you what exactly you're trying to say, but most people get the idea. In fashion there has always been a slogan tee option which provides a viable alternative to smart dressing, whether it be a Katharine Hamnett-designed 'Use A Condom' or a Henry Holland creation suggesting 'Let's Play Naked Twister, Linda Evangelista'. More recently we've had the more elegant -but still cheeky - words of Erin O'Connor to choose from, with the launch of her t-shirt and bag range entitled 'She Died Of Beauty'. You can pick what might have sent you to an early grave, with options ranging from 'Love' and 'Perfection' to 'Individuality' (though the latter could be awkward if you bump into someone with the same message emblazoned on their chest... then you may need to alter it to 'Embarrassment'). The products are aimed to give 'a teasing yet a affectionate tickle at the fashion industry we continue to love, honour and serve', and I think the idea works excellently.

Yesterday I found myself amidst the latest slogan t-shirts at Uniqlo, which could almost have fallen out of Jenny Holzer's journal, and I was transfixed. The fashion duo Antoni and Alison are responsible for this collection, which uses some of their most popular archived slogans and gives them a new lease of life. Ever fancied telling someone 'I Can't Stand You'? There's a top for that. Ever felt the need to declare that 'Nobody Understands Me'? Yes, they've got that one covered as well. After a long deliberation, during which I'm sure the staff thought I was about to nick half of the items in my hand, I went for 'I Can Play The Piano (Really Well)', because I can. Not that brilliantly, but luckily the 'Really Well' is in very small print, so nobody will try and test my ability on that front. It's great to be able to continue my love affair with textual clothing and also shout about a secret talent that doesn't often come up in conversation. The Uniqlo collection is also highly affordable, at £12.99 a pop, so you can afford to buy more than one if you find yourself drawn to several statements. I say go out and get one, because they're selling like hotcakes. Jenny Holzer would be proud.

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