This month we have the infamous bootleg Corbyn T-shirt designed by Bristol Street Wear (BSW) and printed by Simple Print Studio, also in Bristol.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) announced in September that it had acquired the T-shirt, which went on sale online on 9 May 2017 after the 2017 general election was called. According to the London museum, the T-shirt “speaks to how young voters were engaged in a way not seen at previous election campaigns.” It adds: “The design’s popularity was picked up during the general election campaign season of May to June 2017 by the media, including receiving major publicity at the Manchester One Love concert and at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival.”
The T-shirt is on display at the V&A’s Rapid Response Collecting gallery, which explores how “global events, moments of political and social change, and pop cultural phenomena bear on design, architecture and technology”.
The design is an altered version of the classic 1971 Nike Swoosh logo, with the word Nike replaced with the Labour leader’s surname. It was printed with a red plastisol ink on a Gildan Ultra cotton white tee, using an eight-station, manual M&R Chameleon.
Corinna Gardner, acting keeper of the V&A’s Design, Architecture and Digital Department, said: “The Corbyn logo T-shirt is a timely addition to our Rapid Response collection. Inherently digital in its translation of online culture and memes into material form, the T-shirt enables us to ask questions about the role of data and social media in the recent election campaign. Added to this, it captures the current vogue for slogan tees and the growing influence of streetwear brands.”
A spokesperson for BSW, who has been to see the tee in the V&A, said: “It’s great to see the typically dismissed art form, ‘bootlegs’, given pride of place at the V&A. This T-shirt spoke to so many people. It was immediate, it was fun, it started debates, it was censored and it even got us into trouble – everything good art should.”
“It’s amazing that a T-shirt we printed has ended up in the V&A!,” commented Mike Pearson of Simple Print Studio. “BSW are the brains behind all of that stuff, we just produced the stock for them. There have been a lot of different versions of this idea, but these guys were the first to do it and I’m happy to be a part of that process.”
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