Fashion: Written on the body

Your T-shirt says more about you than mere personality ever can.

The humble T-shirt is one of the easiest and cheapest forms of making a statement. Katharine Hamnett found fame through her anti-nuclear T-shirt slogan "58 per cent Say No To Pershing" and "Choose Life" in 1983, and is still on the campaign trail with her latest, "Passports for Pets". "Frankie Says Relax" is another classic of the genre. But that was the Eighties. Today the T-shirt is more fashionable than political.

In the past few years we've had the kiddies' T-shirt trend, thanks to Paula Yates and Yasmin Le Bon plundering their daughters' wardrobes for Little Miss Trouble, Minnie Mouse and their ilk; and the Trainspotting trend when everyone wanted one like Ewan McGregor's, which was an original Seventies number that should have stayed in the 5p bin at Oxfam.

More recently the unisex street label YMC have taken a graph paper print and put it on T-shirts, Vivienne Westwood cuts them on the bias and charges pounds 105 for the privilege, and high street stores Warehouse and French Connection cover them with beads and sequins. A sign of the times, certainly, but there are some obsessives who go to greater lengths for the ultimate T- shirt.

Fashion designer John Rocha, for example, has 12 identical white T-shirts made for him twice a year because the design (his own from three years ago) flatters his shape. He is not alone. Kenneth Mackenzie, the designer of men's label 6876, has a thing about Agnes B and Comme des Garcons long- sleeved T-shirts and always makes sure he's stocked up.

Mackenzie and Rocha represent the purist approach. Anyone with more than a passing interest in looking well turned out - ie anyone who works in fashion, arts or design-related fields - will have a bit of this purist streak in their blood. The shape, style, fabric and colour -black, white or grey - must be just so (mine's a Gap slim-fit V-neck that, annoyingly, has been discontinued). Stylist Holly Wood favours an early Eighties Vivienne Westwood Seditionaries T-shirt). Once the right T-shirt is found it is difficult to change, and everyone has their own favourite.

Aside from black, white and grey classics, however, there is another world of T-shirts out there. The big and baggy, that can be bought from any market; the sporty, such as Adidas, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger, and the tiny, from kid's shops. The trendy, the arty and the cool are a different matter and are subject to personal tastes, but this lot are a pretty good example. We spent all weekend putting them on customers at a McDonald's drive-thru in East London.

One of the favourites of the day was from Antoni & Alison, the duo who changed the face of T-shirt fashion in the early Nineties by plastering "Love It" across the front of a classic tee. They began a fad for slogan T-shirts that proclaimed everything about their wearer from "Babe" to "Whore".

"The lipstick one is about all the things you can find in your make-up case," says Antoni, whose passion for the T-shirt has not waned after 10 years in the business. "When we first started to work with them it was because the T-shirt was taken for granted and overlooked. Then it became something we could play with." And play with it they do. Their latest bestseller is printed simply with "1974".

"We had a guy drive up to the shop on Saturday in his big car who walked in, bought 1974, and walked out wearing it."

According to Antoni "1974" can mean anything. Alison says: "It reminds me of the year I played the little lamb in a nativity play." Antoni reveals: "I was experimenting with my Ziggy Stardust-inspired hair and make-up."

Unfortunately 1974 was out of stock at the time of the shoot, but we are reliably informed that there will be more by the end of the week. Tamsin Blanchard is on holiday

Tee Stockists

Oeuf, enquiries 0171-379 4660

Born Free mail order and enquiries 0171-837 4757

Generic Costume and Union

from Browns Focus, enquiries

0171-629 0666

French Connection, nationwide enquiries 0171-399 7200

YMC available nationwide, enquiries 0171-251 8861

Antoni and Alison, available from Selfridges, Oxford Street, London W1, and the Antoni & Alison

shop, stockist enquiries

0171-833 2002

Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones