Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Katherine Hamnett (b.1947)
British fashion designer best known for her political t-shirts and her ethical business philosophy. After studying fashion she opened her own fashion business with a college friend and they began showing their collections in designer fashion shows through which their business grew rapidly and internationally and began working for clients as big as Liz Taylor, the Beatles, Princess Diana, Madonna and George Michael.
She is heavily involved in campaigning on many environmental issues and has been for the past 20-30 years, including a worldwide nuclear ban and cleaning up the textile, clothing and footwear industries to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases released upon the environment. This lead to what she was best known for, her t-shirt designs, usually oversized and having bold unmissable messages about political or environmental issues. T-shirts topics included ‘worldwide nuclear ban now’, ‘preserve the rainforests’, ‘save the world’, ‘save the whales’ and ‘education not missiles’, all sold with a percentage going to charity and for the purpose of voicing her opinion hopefully appealing to copycat designers to send the message globally.
Hamnett's oversized t-shirts with large block letter slogans were adopted by pop bands including Wham!, with her "CHOOSE LIFE" slogans prominently displayed in the music video.
At one point, Hamnett met with then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing her own t-shirt with the slogan "58% Don't Want Pershing", a reference to polls showing public opposition in the United Kingdom against the basing of United States nuclear weapons on Pershing missiles
She not only designed t-shirts but other clothing ranges as well and also invented stonewashing, distressed denim and stretch denim in 1979.
She won many awards such as designer of the year for both mens and womens clothing and for her political stands.