T-shirt, womens, 'Stay Alive in 85', silk, designed and made by Katherine Hamnett, England, 1985
Katherine Hamnett is an English fashion designer, best known for her over sized t-shirts bearing political slogans. In the 1980s, Hamnett's t-shirts were worn by popular music artists such as Wham, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Queen.This popularised the fashion enormously, cementing Hamnett's designs into popular culture.
This particular t-shirt slogan was inspired by Hamnett's interest in and support for women's anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common airbase in the UK. The design was also recently given a rejuvenation when actor Sarah Jessica-Parker's character Carrie wore it in a scene in the 'Sex and the City' (2008) movie.
Hamnett also claims to have invented distressed denim, stonewash denim, stretch denim, parachute silk (for fashion), the crumpled look, military inspired sportswear, power dressing, leggings, jump suits, retro revivals and ethical and environmental clothing. Her success allowed her to investigate the fashion industry's impact on the environment and human rights, and she has led campaigns to eliminate poor working conditions in third-world garment manufacturing factories, and encourage sustainable cotton farming.
Katherine Hamnett's much-copied designs, and her political views have made her an important figure in the street-fashion design industry.
The shirt is made from silk fabric, machine-sewed, and screen printed with black ink, England, 1985.
The shirt was purchased and used by the donor who recognised its importance as an example of popular designer fashion in the 1980s.