Katherine Hamnett

As part of the “Re-Fashion” brief, we need to design a slogan t-shirt, and Katherine Hamnett was the creator of them in the 80s.

She is an iconic British Fashion Designer, with a great international status. In 1969, she graduated from Central Saint Martins in fashion design, and set up her business when she was 21. In 1989 she was conducting research in the impact of the clothing industry, and little did she know, she discovered absolutely terrible things.

Katherine discovered:

  • 10,000 deaths a year from accidental pesticide poisoning
  • A million long term acute poisoning (figures have doubled since then)
  • Desertification (when fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture)
  • Long term contamination to aquifers (underground water supplies) and rivers
  • Working conditions for people resemble slavery conditions

After being exposed to this, Hamnett immediately introduced many innovations into the clothing and textile business, inspiring new trends in fashion. She used organic cotton, charitable contributions on products, stonewashing and space dying.

Stonewashing: A textile manufacturing process used to give a newly manufactured cloth garment a worn-out appearance. It helps to increase the softness and flexibility of otherwise stiff and rigid fabrics such as canvas and denim.

Space Dying: Dip dyed yarn.

The most iconic trend is her slogan t-shirts, with many titles to raise an awareness about the awful situations in our world, both environmental and political:

Image result for katharine hamnett

Image result for katharine hamnett

Image result for katharine hamnett slogan t shirts

Hamnett is a rebellious, strong and confident person. She is very straightforward and her enthusiasm clearly shows in this short interview. Hamnett was affected by many social conventions at a younger age; wanting to be a film director but she couldn’t as they weren’t usually women, or not being an archaeologist as they are seen to not earn money.

The t-shirts gave her a voice, and she didn’t expect them to sell but she hoped that it would give the “odd idea” of what was going on today. Her designs are not limited to any age because she “designs for a state of mind” not an “age group”. Her aesthetic is about showing the person, not “screaming” the brand.

I admire Hamnett’s emergence in raising attention to problems we should not ignore, and her driving determination to take action immediately. Her slogans are short, bold and straightforward which is what I need to establish in my shirt. The most memorable words should be in bigger font, and composed on the right parts of the figure to steal the most attention.


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