As part of his AW1994 collection, Martin Margiela demonstrated the didactic power of fashion, using his eponymous label as a platform to spread awareness on the AIDS epidemic.
With mortality rates at an all time high, Margiela released a seemingly simple v-neck t-shirt screen printed with the slogan, “THERE IS MORE ACTION TO BE DONE TO FIGHT AIDS THAN TO WEAR THIS T-SHIRT BUT IT’S A GOOD START”.
At the time, misconceptions and stigmas around HIV were rife. As such, this t-shirt was a landmark example of a fashion house launching an ongoing initiative, with profits from sales donated to French HIV prevention organisation, ‘AIDES’.
While striking, the text on the t-shirts is intentionally illegible when worn due to the unorthodox nature of the screen printing process. The text is in fact printed while the garment is folded such that much of the slogan is printed on the interior and to the rear rather than flat on the exterior.
This was a conscious decision by Margiela, as he hoped the unusual design would prompt questions from passers by, sparking further conversation with the intention of breaking down taboos on the issue.
The shirts have been reissued every year since their conception, and have been reimagined in various colours, languages and materials. For their 25th anniversary in 2019, the iconic screen printed text was used as a focal point for Margiela’s MM6 women’s collection.
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