The '90s Are Back! Why Fashion Is Reclaiming the T-shirt


Easy to wear and fun to style, the humble T-shirt is making a comeback.

Casual tees have taken over the runways of some of the biggest labels, from Chanel to Dolce & Gabbana. But these aren't the in-your-face graphic T-shirts from the '90s. Fashion's new favorite tees are sophisticated and luxurious.

Take Vetements. When the brand released its popular yellow-and-red DHL tees from the spring 2016 collection, the fashion set was so enamored that the tops sold out—even with a $330 price tag. Scores of knockoffs are being sold on eBay starting for less than $10. The French label also recently added American T-shirt manufacturer Hanes to its roster of collaborators for its couture debut earlier this month. Even Gucci jumped on the bandwagon by showing logo tees in its recent Resort collection.


The trend is not just limited to the runway. One of the most popular styles of summer, worn by it girls such as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, is the slip dress styled over—what else—the basic tee. Justin Bieber is selling $195 T-shirts as part of his tour merchandise at Barneys New York.

The T-shirt wasn't always a covetable piece in a woman's wardrobe. The modern-day tee has a rather unfashionable predecessor: a men's underwear staple from the early 1900s. By the '50s, shirts emblazoned with university and rock-band logos emerged, affecting the T-shirt's popularity.

Its resurgence may be tied to the industry's cyclical nature as labels aim to become more consumer-friendly by offering practical, mass-produced pieces. "We're seeing a return to the sensibility of the '90s, which was the last time logo mania was everywhere," says Stephanie Solomon, fashion director at Lord & Taylor. "It was also a time when there was an upheaval in fashion, [similar to] now with the changing of the guard with Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Balenciaga, and Alessandro Michele at Gucci. Part of the fashion uniform then was the logo tee and showing belief in the brand's values by wearing it. Today, everyone's reasserting their brand fidelities."


The T-shirt trend acts as a gateway item for many of these luxury labels, opening up the demographics of each brand. "These T-shirts are usually the most inexpensive thing in designer collections," Solomon says. "[Women are] buying into the brand at their opening price point. The customer is making a statement that she's aligned with the brand."

The best part about the trend: You probably have some form of it in your closet already. "The trend has no age boundaries—it resonates at all age groups—and price isn't necessarily going to be a restriction," Solomon says. It's a piece of fashion now claimed by high-end designers, yet completely accessible. What could be better than that?


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