Just wanted to add my two cents to the debate that’s surrounding these Topman t-shirts – recently withdrawn from sale of course. I’m not really going to talk about the second one. It’s mildly funny and I don’t really take issue with it, especially when you consider how there are equally derogatory t-shirts about men in a number of high street stores. I can see how it was ‘a bit of a laugh’. But as for the first one, the ‘I’m Sorry’ tee, now that is just totally appalling.
A Topman spokesperson on Facebook apologised for the offence it has caused, claiming that ‘these T-shirts were meant to be light-hearted and carried no serious meaning’. Now, I like to think I’ve got a good sense of humour but what stops the t-shirt from being light hearted is the choice of excuses. ‘I hate you’? ‘You provoked me’? There are dark sentiments in these excuses. They hint at anger. They are scarily ambiguous. Even if this t-shirt makes no direct link to violence, it’s implicated in the words. Worn on a t-shirt, the excuses become glamorised, normalised. And let’s not even go into its implicated stance on youth drinking culture in Britain today.
I have no problem with fashion being offensive. It is, after all, an expression of the wearers personality, beliefs and opinions, and not everyone’s going to agree with what people have to say. But if you’re going to wear something controversial I’d rather you had something important to say – some message behind the fabric (or meat, a la Lady Gaga). There is no message behind this t-shirt. What’s its purpose? In fact, if there is any message behind it it’s that these sorts of excuses are ok. And no, Topman, they’re really not.