In 1983 the punk UK band Frankie Goes to Hollywood started one of the most impressive viral marketing campaigns in T-shirts from overtyped fonts with various “Frankie Says” demands that caught on throughout Europe like air on fire. Used as an anti-BBC thing, the shirts represented an uprising by the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood first in the UK then elsewhere as fans caught on, for their number one single “Relax” being banned by national radio and television posed by the BBC. So, for the 5 weeks that Relax remained the #1 hit on the charts the only way people could hear it was to play it themselves.
With the ’80’s revival in fashion still well underway among both UK scensters and North American youth culture, it’s not unimaginable that other meaningful motifs would pop-up in similar oversized fonts today among a DIY generation determined to tell their own backstory. The difference is that it’s being done in gold foils or rave colors. And for some, it’s an extension of the growing Love Movement–a tangent to the religious movement in fashion among young people in the United States.
Inspired by the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, the T-shirts are a symbol of the organization based on one girl’s struggles with cutting and self-inflicted pain to deal with her depression. Her story is compelling and her friends created a website (www.TWLOHA.org) that continues to attract thousands of young people every day. To Write Love on Her Arms have also produced various YouTube videos that have achieved rockstar status and created an amazing viral marketing campaign through their on-going “song” that fans can contribute to that deals with teen suicide and depression -once an unspoken topic. T-shirts from the organization, including slogans such as Love Love Love, The Love Movement, and To Write Love on Her Arms have transcended the original concept into meaning peace, love, and respect for others across the nation, even inspiring the so-called “hugging” movement that high schools from Chicago to Fort Worth, among other cities, have notoriously been trying to ban without success (and resulting in backlash with even more hugging and corresponding Hugs and Love T-shirt sales).
Oversized statement prints in Frankie Goes to Hollywood styles are a growing part of the T-shirt graphic design scene among both males and females, replacing old-school brand logos that used to take up this much coveted space. What’s this mean for apparel and more importantly, the meaning of fashion? Personal statements are a growing trend, and as illustrated with statement T’s, a.k.a. “The Messenger Movement,” the meaning of this fashion subculture truly is in the message.