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Punk and New Wave Fashions: Punk T Shirts And their Enduring Worldwide Popularity.

Punk and New Wave Fashions: Punk T Shirts And their Enduring Worldwide Popularity.

Above Photo: Gossip Girl’s Bad Girl and Real Life Rocker, Taylor Momsen in a Ramones T-Shirt.

I was thinking about Punk and New Wave bands and their continuing popularity on T-shirts recently when I was driving in Bangkok and a young Thai woman crossed the road in front of me wearing a T-shirt which said: “Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire”, and which looked as though it was designed from a previous Punk/New Wave gig flier.

Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire play Eric's Club, Liverpool in 1979, a gig I went to.

Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire play Eric’s Club, Liverpool in 1979, a gig I went to.

Weirdly enough, back in Liverpool in 1979, I had actually gone to a Joy Division gig, where Cabaret Voltaire had supported them (see above flier), so this was a nice blast from the past, but it also got me thinking about Punk bands and T-shirts in general.

Anti-Fashion: Joy Division standing on a Manchester street.

Anti-Fashion: Joy Division standing on a Manchester street.

The girl wearing the Joy Division/Cabaret Voltaire T-shirt was only in her early twenties and may not even have known what was written in English on it, but it struck me that everywhere I go, everywhere in the world, I see Punk and New Wave bands on peoples’ T-shirts.

Black Eyed Peas' Fergie sports a Ramones T-shirt.

Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie sports a Ramones T-shirt.

Celebrities, especially, seem to like wearing Punk T-shirts, and I have focused on just two popular ones to illustrate this article: Joy Division and the Ramones. Obviously, especially for younger celebrities (especially in Boy Bands), being seen wearing a “cool” punk band T-shirt may help change public perceptions of them; that perhaps they’re not the total wankers people think they are from their PR-concocted image.

Harry Styles of One Direction sports a Ramones T-shirt.

Harry Styles of One Direction sports a Ramones T-shirt.

While thinking about this, I also came across an interesting article in the UK’s Independent newspaper by Rhodri Marsden talking about the same thing.

He said about Ramones T-shirt wearers in the UK:

More anti-fashion. The Ramones crossing a New York street.

More anti-fashion. The Ramones crossing a New York street.

You see them everywhere these days, on public transport, down the pub, in the local park and at Glastonbury, on the backs of everyone from Jonathan Ross to a 10-year-old girl. The Ramones T-shirt has become a ubiquitous garment, a globally recognised design that retains only a flimsy link to the music made by America’s quintessential punk band.

Robert Pattinson wears an Unknown Pleasures T-shirt.

Robert Pattinson wears an Unknown Pleasures T-shirt.

Many couldn’t name you a Ramones song – although some might hazard a guess at “Hey Ho Let’s Go”, the opening lyric of their 1976 debut single “Blitzkrieg Bop” (currently being used in a TV advert for an online electrical appliance retailer).

(Ex-) His 'n Hers: Kristen Stewart wears her Joy Division T-shirt.

(Ex-) His ‘n Hers: Kristen Stewart wears her Joy Division T-shirt.

People of a certain age might see this as a despicable betrayal of the Ramones’ memory, but does it matter? After all, to accuse a 10-year-old child of lacking punk authenticity would seem unfair. Having become a regular fixture in high-street clothing stores, maybe the Ramones T-shirt has merely taken on a strange new life of its own.

Another member of One Direction, Niall Horan, shows his Punk credentials to a disbelieving world.

Another member of One Direction, Niall Horan, shows his Punk credentials to a disbelieving world.

Dee and Tommy; all now dead, but somehow living on, emblazoned on the chests of people who don’t necessarily know who they were.

Joy Division is another band that has endured incredibly well as worldwide T-shirt icons. I doubt they see profits from the mass rip-off of their Unknown Pleasures cover art, but, like Ramones’ T-shirts, you see them everywhere nowadays.

Yet another One Direction member, Louis Tomlinson, does Punk. But he bucks his Boy Bandmates' Ramones trend by sporting a Joy Division T-shirt instead.

Yet another One Direction member, Louis Tomlinson, does Punk. But he bucks his Boy Bandmates’ Ramones trend by sporting a Joy Division T-shirt instead.

My favourite version of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures T-shirt was one I saw a guy wearing that said: ‘If you don’t know what it is, don’t wear the fucking T-shirt”.

I laughed.

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Robin Williams in a Joy Division T-shirt. He looks good in it too. And at least he probably knew who they were.

Robin Williams in a Joy Division T-shirt. At least he probably knew who they were.

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 www.bombedoutpunk.com © Peter Alan Lloyd

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