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Rethinking the classic white T-shirt

April 8, 2010 |  8:00 am


A white T-shirt is often taken for granted as the most basic, casual and sometimes boring wardrobe staple. But 22-year-old Ritchie Chan is aiming to turn the standard white T into a work of art with his traveling exhibition called Project White T Shirt.

Chan commissioned 31 designers in 13 countries to reinterpret a white T-shirt into something conceptual. “The white T-shirt is the most common item in fashion and to have all these designers transform it pushes us to rethink how we approach fashion.” Chan says.

Last April, he began cold calling avant-garde designers from all over the world to join the project, which resulted in the participation of a few notable names such as Bruno Pieters, Slow and Steady Wins the Race and L.A. based Unholy Matrimony.  Designer projects vary from shirts made of white marshmallows (made by Sweden’s Doktor Doktor) to a white shirt buried in Unholy Matrimony designer Brett Westfall’s backyard for 185 days to erode and decay and, according to Westfall, to convey that the earth is alive and ate the shirt.

“I like the marshmallow shirt because it’s visually attractive with all these bubbly marshmallows, but conceptually it’s interesting that the designers try to connect food and fashion and use them to construct something appealing,” Chan says. “We can use different departure points not just fabric and achieve similar or better effects.”

Every T-shirt in the exhibition is up for auction, with all proceeds going to Designers Against Aids and is on display at Space 15 Twenty in Hollywood until April 18. Project White T Shirt goes to Tokyo on June 12th and ends at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts in Bejing.

Melissa Magsaysay

Photos: The white T-shirt redone from left: Kling by Kling, Unholy Matrimony and Andrea Crews/Project White T-shirt.