Posted by: crustynomad | August 19, 2007

The Classic Pop T-Shirt

Those of a certain age will remember a particular time in pop history where it seemed everyone was wearing a T-Shirt announcing a slogan by some guy called Frankie.

Frankie, of course, were the pop sensation that were Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

‘Frankie say’ seems to be a phrase that has lasted in youth culture and is even known by the crinklies of the older generation.

Back in 1984 you couldn’t go anywhere without reading the words Relax! Don’t Do it, War (Hide Yourself) or Arm the Unemployed emblazened across some teenagers chest.

These were pop marketing guru and journalist Paul Morley‘s variations on a classic Katherine Hamnett design of bold black lettering on a white T-Shirt. It was difficult to imagine a more striking image.

Katherine Hamnett was perhaps best remembered for the Choose Life T-Shirt as worn by George Michael in the Wake me up before you go-go video. She did, however, also where a T-Shirt of her own design in the presence of Margaret Thatcher that stated that 58% of the British public did not want Pershing missiles which no doubt went down well.

Needless to say, back then, there were scores of rip-offs of those T-Shirts which undoubtedly cost the original designers and Frankie themselves a considerable sum in royalties with fans buy cheap imitations. In fact, at that time, that was the band’s only real income for some years until the cash started to come from actual record sales thanks to a rather dubious record contract.

The fact remains is that this style of T-Shirt has become a cultural classic across the world and a British icon. You regularly see trendy celebs where the designs despite not actually having been born first time round.

Others will remember Lou and Andy from Little Britain with sporting the famous slogan.

With the upsurge in popularity of retro designs (and yet more fakes) I took it upon myself to create some variations though those were aimed more at the geek market in the internet.

Today I launched my own online store using the black and white designs but have yet to upload all my images. If you’d like to take a look go to:

UPDATE: (10/09/2007) Found another neat article on T-Shirts on another blog. Take a look! 🙂



  1. […] icon it set out to be. However, the band and the label already have an icon to their name with the ‘Frankie Say…’ T-Shirt so that is achievement enough. Unlike the album I am pretty sure that ZTT were just producing a […]

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