When my mom was in her twenties, she bought herself a jean jacket from her favorite store at the time. This jean jacket survived every closet cleanout for the next thirty years, and now the jacket is in my closet. I wear it all the time because it’s trendy, just like it was when my mom was my age.
Styles are always recirculating. The scrunchies of the eighties can now be seen on the wrists of just about any Gen Z female. Fringe is cool again! Leather jackets, overalls, and neon colors… all of these are fashion trends of the twentieth century that have managed to grace the pages of fashion magazines once again.
One of my favorite recycled trends is the graphic t-shirt. The graphic tee does it all, from tying together a chic outfit to pairing perfectly with your favorite ripped jeans or contributing to your athleisure style. Wearing a graphic tee is a form of self-expression, essentially a form of communication. Wearing a graphic tee allows you to show the world who you are. You are creating an image of yourself and delivering a message by wearing a graphic tee. You may even emotionally connect with a passerby who reads the text on your shirt.
Creating an image, delivering a message, emotionally connecting… that sounds like branding to me!
You may not know it, but you are marketing yourself, your interests, and your opinions when you model your graphic tee! Branding isn’t just for businesses. Just like a business, you have a brand. We are constantly marketing ourselves and creating our own personal image. You market yourself when you apply to college or interview for a job. You market yourself when you meet new people. You market yourself when you post a fun picture from the weekend on Instagram. Everything you do creates your brand. Your Instagram feed? That’s your brand. The way you treat the people you come across every day? That’s also your brand. Your graphic tee contributes to your brand by portraying who you are and what you like. When you wear your graphic tee, you are marketing yourself by showing what you stand for.
In marketing, gaining engagement is always a goal. Graphic tees can achieve that goal and unite people. Not too long ago, I was in line at Wawa and noticed the man in front of me was wearing a New York Yankees t-shirt. I commented, “I love your shirt. What a great game last night!” This simple statement sparked a conversation between us about the team for the next several minutes while we waited in line. Once he had paid for his items, the man turned to me and exclaimed “Go Yankees!” before exiting the store.
Use your graphic tee to tell the world what’s important to you. Use your graphic tee to portray how you’re feeling or who you are. Use your graphic tee to let everyone know that you’re a huge Yankees fan or that you love the Beatles.
Any marketing company will tell you they work hard to effectively portray a brand to potential customers and maintain a high-quality reputation. You are your own company, and your graphic t-shirt is your form of marketing. What do you want people to know about you? What do you want to present to the world as your brand? Today, graphic tees extend far beyond the idea of creating a stylish outfit or setting the scene for a great Instagram photo. As fashion writer Emilia Petrarca wrote, “T-shirts are a blank canvas in a culture where we try to communicate huge, complex beliefs via carefully curated images, viral hashtags, and 140 (sometimes 280) characters.”
What will you portray about yourself with your graphic tee?