The last word

The last word

The Fashion and Textile Museum’s latest exhibition T-shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion highlights the importance of the one garment that’s sure to be hanging in everyone’s wardrobe

There is no other garment that can so definitively say who we are – or at least who we want to be – as the humble T-shirt. Probably the most democratic piece of clothing to exist, the t-shirt allows you to declare your allegiance to your favourite band/artist/fashion brand – not to mention announce your political views – without ever having to open your mouth, and therefore also spot fellow members of your tribe. Which is why London’s Fashion and Textile Museum has decided to dedicate an entire exhibition to something so extraordinarily ordinary.

But rather than attempting to present a comprehensive history of a garment whose origins lie in AD500 (!), it’s the use of the humble T-shirt as a communicative tool that T-shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion focuses. Dividing the exhibition into 12 spaces organised thematically, there features an impressive collection from the grandmother of punk herself Vivienne Westwood, sex positive tees by Pam Hogg, and a handsome display celebrating LGTBQ+ rights, feminism, eco-activism – pretty much all of the things that make the political, personal.

Dense in detail and thought provoking, go to see it and it will at the very least make you think twice before slipping into a Nirvana band tee without having heard any of their music.

T:Shirt: Cult - Culture - Subversion runs at the Fashion and Textile Museum until 6 May 2018

  • Words: Miriam Bouteba