Customizing t-shirts for the purpose of unification behind a cause is nothing new. Inciting school spirit is perhaps the original source of the crowd unifying t-shirt concept. Recently there has been quite a push to bring awareness to the problem of school bullying that led to the inception of National Bullying Prevention and Awareness month. Farmington High School in New England challenged students to come up with positive messages to apply to bright orange t-shirts in an effort to promote a sense of community solidarity and commitment to deal with the problem.
Another active school movement is happening at DePaul University in Chicago. Student leaders were dissatisfied with lack of progress in recognizing issues with sexual assault. The student movement called, “Consent the D” is emblazoned on t-shirts in hopes to increase awareness around the campus that sexual assault is a real problem and deserves immediate attention.
One of the biggest breaking stories concerning t-shirts for a cause involves Michigan State’s Athletic Director, Dave Brandon. Apparently since his appointment in 2010, his decisions have created discontent with hometown fans and financial supporters to the point that an anonymous donor provided 2,000 custom t-shirts bearing the words Go Team, Go Team, Go Team, #FireDaveBrandon.
Sometimes unification via a personalized t-shirt doesn’t work out though. Take the recent refusal of British Prime Minister, David Cameron to be photographed in a feminist statement t-shirt. UK Elle asked the Prime Minister to pose in a t-shirt with the words, “This is what a feminist looks like.” He declined even though other high ranking dignitaries consented to the request. Not every person feels comfortable wearing their heart on their sleeve, (or someone’s message on their chest.)
Obviously, there’s nothing like a t-shirt linked to a great cause to bring a group together and create a united identity. From autism awareness, breast cancer research, to anti-bullying or even discontent inspired causes like the aforementioned movement to remove Michigan State’s Athletic Director, t-shirts continue to motivate and inspire.