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I found myself in the men’s section of H&M with a mission to look for a new white T-shirt (not like I own a handful already). You can’t go wrong with a crisp white T-shirt… tucked in, ironed sleeves. Well at least that’s what my girlfriend says. On that note, my girlfriend also says that I’m incapable of buying clothes for myself, which is certainly untrue. As I walked around the store looking for a simple plain white T-shirt, I could not find any existence of a plain white T-shirt, but instead was trapped in a sea of T-shirts and hoodies with all of these cute, positive, inspiring, and motivational quotes.

life motto? H&M Men’s Do Good Relaxed Fit Cotton T-shirt

“Do Good & Be Nice: The Wave of The Future”. How does this slogan make you feel? How do you interpret it? What exactly is it referring to? Does it actually inspire you? In my opinion, I totally dig this slogan. It makes me feel encouraged to be a good and wholesome person, help others out, pet puppies, to stop taking 20-ish minute showers, and to recycle (although these feelings last for a brief moment).

You can be, to put it politely, the most annoying individual on earth, yet spread positivity to others just by wearing a T-shirt with a slogan.

These T-shirts have got me thinking, is there any point in having slogans on our clothing? Do these slogans actually get a message across or is it just for the purpose of style? Why might someone choose to wear an article of clothing featuring slogans? How do others interpret our T-shirts in particular?

What is a slogan? A slogan is a short phrase or sentence that is usually memorable and commonly adopted by sportswear and fast fashion brands, and their products, in order to create a positive image and differentiate themselves from competitors. Indeed, there is a point to clothing with slogans – slogans can help us say things (important or not) and can help us to make a statement (to express an opinion on a matter of great importance, not a fashion statement), without us having to open our mouths. Slogans can also help us to express our individual style.

Smile again? H&M Men’s Jumper—Smile Again

So, is there research on T-shirt slogans? Yes there is, who knew? Recently, Tong and Su (2022) examined lots and lots of T-shirt slogans (500+ slogans from 180 clothing brands) and found that young people love slogan T-shirts. The findings of the study also suggest that T-shirt slogans for strong brands are generally better liked than slogans for weak brands. My favourite slogan from this study has got to be “Shoes & Spaghetti” by H&M.

There’s also recently been a study on Turkish language teachers’ awareness of T-shirts (i.e., Savaşkan, 2022). The teachers were asked questions about their opinions on T-shirts. When deciding to purchase a T-shirt, colour and style were the most important factors, whereas less than a quarter of teachers cared about a T-shirt’s text. Many teachers were fond and familiar with the T-shirts they owned. If they were to wear a T-shirt with text on it, it would need to be sensible. If the text was in a foreign language, they would make sure to find out what it meant in case it was inappropriate. If the text was ridiculous, they wouldn’t bother to wear it. The researcher recommends that consumers should be more mindful of what slogans say on their clothing because it can leave a bad impression or send the wrong message to others, especially if the wearer doesn’t know what it means.

On that note, wearing a T-shirt with text or graphics can affect how people will interact with you. Gurung et al. (2018) set out to find whether graphics on clothing influence our perceptions and behavioural intentions. The researchers found that participants were less likely to want to interact with those dressed in sexually suggestive T-shirts compared to those in athletic, ‘nerdy’, or blank T-shirts.

Now, all I wanted was a simple white T-shirt. But has there been research on white T-shirts? Yes, Tassell et al. (2022) conducted a study on the consequences of wearing a T-shirt either labelled as ‘sustainable’ or ‘unsustainable’ on our wellbeing. A group of participants were to wear a plain white T-shirt either stating “this T-shirt is UNSUSTAINABLE/SUSTAINABLE”. Participants who wore the ‘sustainable’ T-shirt reported a higher level of positive feelings compared to those wearing an ‘unsustainable’ T-shirt. This implies that wearing sustainable clothing has the potential to make us feel more positive.

Still haven’t found a plain white T-shirt yet, nope.


Gurung, R. A. R., Stoa, R., Nelson, A., & Schultz, D. (2018). The influence of T-shirt graphics on perceptions and behavioral intentions. The Journal of Social Psychology, 159(3), 1-12.

Savaşkan, V. (2022). Are We Aware of What We Wear? The Awareness of Pre-Service Turkish Language Teachers About T-Shirt Catch-Phrases. Education Quarterly Reviews, 5(1).

Tassell, C., Bardey, A., & Schat, A. (2022). How to wear happiness: Impact of wearing clothing labelled sustainable or fast fashion on subjective well-being. International Journal of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles, 1(1), 63-80.

Tong, X. & Su, J. (2022). Exploring T-shirt slogans by content and thematic analysis. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education.


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