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Self-expression: from online comment to offline wearable content

Self-expression has become a global media trend, which has created wearable content. We’re seeing people take their online comments and designs and turn them into something they can wear in real life. Online self-expression has become offline wearable content.

The need to identify with your tribe started to increase with the dramatic political events of 2016. The Brexit vote and Trump’s election caused schisms in the UK and USA. People needed to demonstrate which side they were on. It was no longer enough to to like an anti-Trump image on Facebook or to hashtag Brexit on Twitter; You need to wear it, to demonstrate your dedication. So Brinkman’s Nasty Woman responded to Trump’s comment about Hilary; and Adorable Deplorables appeared, to rebut Hilary’s comment about Trump supporters.

By 2017 Designers were creating slogan tees which tapped in to this trend. We saw t-shirts like Maria Grazia Chiuri’s We Should All Be Feminists t-shirt for Dior and Prabal Gurung’s version of The Future is Female. In the run up to last year’s General Election, Grazia even ran a style feature on How To Wear A Political Statement Like It’s No Biggie.

This year New York magazine has been turning its headlines into slogan t-shirts and selling them through Merch by Amazon. Headlines like What do Jared and Ivanka do all day? became slogan tees. Here in London, fashion label, Blouse, launched Just Harried t-shirts to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

The high street has also picked up this trend: H&M caused a furore with its (£25) tracksuits emblazoned ‘Unemployed’. It was removed from sale, but it continued to sell a hoodie saying ‘Broke’. Other brands have sported claims like ‘Too Poor for Dior’.

But the slogan t-shirt is also having a grassroots moment. Creators and expressionists can often be more nimble than the big brands and react immediately to online memes or comments with a design that can be worn offline. They don’t need time to breathe life into a collection, they can get their design up and take a stand today.

Why has this trend exploded offline? Because print makes self-expression wearable and technology makes it immediate. Technology has democratised offline self-expression. It’s no longer just for the big brands and mainstream designers. Just as anyone can express themselves via social media, so the combination of print and technology means everyone can create their own wearable content.

This is self-expression very similar to the way people share things on social media. Creatives and expressionists can respond to everything from world events to trending memes with a new design that’s instantly shared, printed and worn. So with clever ideas and judicious marketing, our designers can earn money from their originality.

Because a design on clothing is very expressive it has become a form of social media in its own right. People are spreading their messages by using ecommerce in conjunction with social media and social commentary

This means smaller designers and individual creators can use slogan tees to establish their cultural credentials. And print-on-demand means there’s no risk. This is also behind the rise in available wearable content from smaller designers.

We spotted the first signs of this grassroots trend on our site last year – designs by our creators rose 77% in one year as creators responded to the self-expression trend.

It looks like this trend is set to continue through 2018 and beyond. Self-expression is established online, we’re now seeing how it manifests offline, in wearable content.   

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