T-shirts are more than just another clothing item in your closet, they’re a way to express yourself and show off the things you love, designs you love, heck even custom buttons. During their over 100-year run, iconic designs have emerged that could be found on the backs of millions across the world. Which are the most iconic of all, though?
Whittling down this list wasn’t easy, but we’ve come up with a solid six designs that rocked the t-shirt world to its core. Here are the best of the best.
6. The Jack Daniels
Alcohol labels and t-shirts go together like Friday nights and pizza. Every brewery offers their logo design as a wearable, but none share the success that Jack Daniels has had with their Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey shirt. Maybe it is the white print on black, maybe it’s the sheer design that goes into the shirt, but this is one catchy looking tee.
5. Frankie Says Relax
A band by the name of Frankie Goes to Hollywood released their single titled “Relax” back in October of 1983. It was a popular tune, rising to number 6 in the charts, but stations soon began pulling the vinyl off of their playlists when DJs became outraged by the sexual nature of both the lyrics and album cover. Hey, it was the 80’s. What can you expect?
While the intent was to kill the song’s popularity, their decision caused the opposite. Relax rose to number one on the charts for the next eight weeks while a horde of t-shirts were created with the slogan “Frankie Says Relax.” It was a bestseller at the time and remains so even today, standing as a statement for the freedom of artistic creation. This is an excellent example of custom t-shirt printing at its finest.
4. The Rolling Stones
It was almost impossible to pick out a single band t-shirt for this list. The Ramones, Nirvana, Bob Marley and dozens of others all have incredibly iconic t-shirts that sell like hotcakes, but the Rolling Stones’ lip symbol is iconic as iconic gets.
You can find this logo on almost anything, and its popularity remains large amongst both fans and companies like American Eagle that create knock-off vintage tees. The logo itself was created by an art student by the name of John Pasche in 1970 when the band became frustrated with ides proposed by their record label. Today, it remains one of the most work t-shirt designs of all time.
3. Choose Life
When Wham! Released their video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” band members wore this now iconic design. Created as a way of fighting back against drug abuse, the design was one of the first to feature social messaging.
Without Choose Life, we might not have tees featuring great causes like To Write Love on Her Arms or quirky classics like “keep laughing, this is your girlfriend’s shirt.” Despite being a founding father, so to speak, the Choose Life shirt was made widely popular during the 80’s as the nation’s drug use was revealed to be an epidemic.
2. I Love New York
This is the iconic vacation tee, but you might find it surprising that not everyone who owns one has been to the Big Apple. The design comes from an ad campaign in the late 1970’s to promote tourism in the city. If you were around for the campaign, then you can’t see the logo without hearing the jingle as well.
Why so iconic? Simple. New York is iconic! One of the most famous cities in the world, millions dream of its bright lights and bustling streets. It’s where dreams are made and money flows. The culture is one of a kind, and even greats like Frank Sinatra have crafted songs about their love for the city.
1. Good Ol’ Mickey
Disney is everywhere, probably more so today than in the past, but it has always been a mega-corporation since the invention of Mickey Mouse. Arguably more famous than any living person, this little guy has been slapped onto more t-shirts than anyone can count.
Whether you picked one up on a trip to the castle or just love Mickey, chances are you owned something with this iconic character on it at one point in your life. If not, then you’ve surely seen him absolutely everywhere.
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.