Revolutionizing And Destroying The T-Shirt

I was immediately inspired by Mary Ping’s revolution to take the idea of a T-shirt with a pocket and see beyond the minimalism to see something of creation and reconstruction. To go beyond that, I see a paradox of destructing the T-shirt to create something new. The invention of the T-shape was using minimal fabric and this is central to Ping’s ideals and vision. I was inspired by two images I found on her website, which showed me how cut-outs in a T-shirt leave so many possibilities for design.

Link - Spring Summer 2008
Link – Spring Summer 2008
Link – Spring 2006 Ready-to-Wear

My Urban Outfitter’s T-shirt started as a basic T-shape, and I was impelled by Ping to do something radical against the “norm”. I am always relying on rules, practices, and instructions to tell me how and when I should do something. So, I wanted this T-shirt to become my destruction against the “norm”. I wanted to destroy seam lines and rip apart the basic construction. Here’s how the shirt started so you have an idea:


And the plan was simply: have no plan. I got out of my own mind and just started cutting and ripping apart the T-shirt. I like how once I started ripping strips of fabric away from the label, that the shirt looked like it was bleeding white. It was started this dripping effect as the fabric pulled away and hanged down in strips due to normal effects of gravity. As Ping sees her work as objects, I saw my deconstruction as an object. I also had William Morris in the back of my mind when he said in “The Revival of Handcraft”, “…it is not uncommon to hear regrets for the hand-labour in the fields, now fast disappearing from even backward districts of civilized countries” (20). So the combined cut-out inspiration from Ping and the use of my hands to tear up this shirt allowed me to have a free will in creation and a freedom in my destruction. Isn’t fashion supposed to be mobile, in the way it changes our demeanor, but also how it becomes mobile when we touch it, change it, and recreate it? Using my hands created a literal movement as I tore up the shirt while revolutionizing how the T-shirt will move once it is worn. This T-shirt is my freedom, and it was a liberation during this process to see an object becoming something new in the ever recycling world of fashion. The final product? Look below:



Here is my new T-shirt that has an element of space taken away from it, but still occupies space as an object. To understand this reconstruction better, here is quote on page 218 by Pietra Rivoli’s “The Travels of a T-Shirt in The Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade”:

The global used clothing industry is also a fascinating study in the market for ‘snowflakes’, as almost every item of clothing that enters the trade is unique. At the raw cotton stage, any bale of similarly graded cotton is interchangeable with any other, and once certain characteristics are specified, plain-white T-shirts, too, are interchangeable”

All I can hope is that my object of reconstruction and movement echoes what the T-Shape was originally used for. It is wearable and functional; it is still a black t-shirt with a design. The difference is that the T-shirt has become my object of defiance to the rules, as I saw Ping do with her collections. I moved the T-shirt’s shape; in a way, I changed it’s demeanor on the way it sits on a hanger. It will forever be mobile in the way newly loose fabric hanging down that can be swayed in multiple directions which symbolizes my freedom. Most importantly, it’s a symbol of my destruction.

Carolyn J Cei

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