Throwing on your favourite T-shirt might be a matter of comfort, or maybe you just feel like changing the world.
Some might say that putting those expectations on a piece of fabric it’s crazy and a sure ride down disappointment road — and they’re probably right, like most pessimists. But every once in a while there’s just that one design that makes everyone turn their heads and go “Wow.”
In order to show you the revolutionary power of the T-shirt, we’ve collected some of our favourite examples of revolutionary personalised t-shirts. Some thrive to change complex social problems, while others are simply a creative way to get people involved with important topics. If you use a little bit of creativity, a T-shirt can be way more than just a fashion statement.
Living With: T-shirts for mental health
Art student Dani Balenson created a line of innovative T-shirts with designs representing different mental disorders, like OCD, depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD. The project began as her senior thesis in college, and now it’s grown to a much bigger movement. The slogan is “Wear your brain on your chest and your heart on your sleeve.”
The T-shirts do two things: One, they get conversations started about common mental health issues. And two, they help people dealing with mental health issues to feel empowered and accept themselves. Hopefully, they will go a long way towards changing perceptions of mental health.
$2 from the sale of each garment goes to a nonprofit that helps raise awareness of mental health issues on college campuses in the U.S.
Of course, part of the Living With garments’ success is that they’ve got a great-looking graphic print. They’ve designed a unique pattern for each mental disorder that isn’t an obvious statement. You can see why people might not want to wear a tee that has “Hello, I’m bipolar” written across the front, but the abstract print really works. They’ve addressed the issue in a sensitive and stylish way.
Litographs: bringing the written word back into fashion
With the rise of mobile phones, e-books, tablets, and more, lots of people are choosing to read on their devices rather than pick up a good old-fashioned book. That’s why Litographs tees was started with the aim of reviving that physical connection readers have with a book — by printing the words of a book on a tee.
Their personalised T-shirt designs are created using the text of a classic work of literature, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, On the Origin of Species, and The Great Gatsby. The words are printed over every inch of the shirts, and even though the text is tiny it’s definitely legible.
The garments were so popular they ended up expanding not only their line of books available, but also into other products like posters, tote bags, and even temporary tattoos. The written word has never been more wearable!
Virtuali-Tee: The Ultimate way to learn about the Human Body
The Virtuali-Tee is one of the coolest uses of new technology we’ve seen lately. It works with special codes that are printed on the T-shirts and unlock a free app when they’re read by a smartphone. Then, a realistic 3D anatomical image of what’s inside the human body is recreated on the device’s screen. The image lets you move around and “look inside” the torso as if you had x-ray vision. It also works with virtual reality headsets so you can really get into it. Pretty amazing stuff, right?
The garments are designed to learn about the human anatomy and they’re targeted towards children, but anyone can join. The only catch? They’re not actually available — yet! That’s because the project was funded through a Kickstarter campaign and it’s still on the production stages. The first pieces should be delivered in August 2016.
T-Post: the magazine printed on a shirt
Ever wanted to stop and read what somebody’s top says? You’ll probably want to even more if you spot someone wearing a T-Post garments — the world’s first-ever magazine printed on a T-shirt.
Like a physical publication, issues are released monthly. The way they do it is by printing the text on the inside of the piece, and then the outside has a “graphically interpreted print” (sort of like the cover) of what the issue is all about. Topics tend to be part article, part column, and deal with the break-necking pace of modern life. Artists, designers, and brands have all jumped on this unusual opportunity: T-Post has teamed up with people like Alife, Staple, Eric HAZE, and Ricky Powell on projects.
Up-shirt: T-shirts to reduce waste fabric
Did you know that a factory-made T-shirt can have up to 40% of waste? What that means is that almost half of the resources that go into making a tee are wasted. This includes stuff like cotton, water, transportation costs, factory labour hours, etc… Simply put, there’s a lot of rubbish for so little product.
Instead of just throwing away all that unwanted material, Up-Shirt decided to mass-produce brand-new shirts out of all the leftover stuff. Their tees are so eco-friendly that they reduce each piece’s environmental footprint by 80%!
Tofu Clothing: tees to stop human trafficking
Tofu’s shirts are designed with the aim of helping victims of sex trafficking get back on their feet. And how do they do this by just selling clothes?
When a large T-shirt order is placed, there’s an incentive for companies to hire these women, and then the revenue from the tees goes right back into funding the training and counselling programs in place for the victims. Tofu Clothing has also gathered a team of nonprofits, garment manufacturers, and government agencies to support the project.
Planet Money: T-shirts used to explain global issues
You might have heard of Planet Money, the NPR radio programme that talks about issues related to the global economy. Sounds like a bit of a heavy topic for a piece of clothing to take on, no?
Well, that’s what the program wanted to do. They created a line of T-shirts and documented the entire process, from who grew the cotton, where the yarn was spun, and how the fabric was created. They then followed the shirts as they were shipped from factories in places like Bangladesh and Colombia before they ended up in the U.S. And if that wasn’t quite enough information, they also tackled the topic of all the international regulations that are involved when you’re making a T-shirt.
The garments they produced came with a code to scan and access a website with all the information. It also includes pictures of everybody involved in the making of your tee all around the globe.
Who knew that getting a simple T-shirt was so complicated?
And on that note…
Got any more amazing T-shirts you would like to share with us? Then leave us a comment below or send us a message via any of our social media outlets. We always love to hear from you!
In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
Printsome is an online t-shirt printing agency offering screen printing, direct to garment printing and embroidery services to creative professionals from Southampton printed t-shirts to Glasgow custom hoodies and any other clothing everywhere in between.