New Skull T-Shirts

22/8/12 – The Proliferation of the skull in Contemporary Fashion.

I have realised that my boyfriend has a collection of skull t-shirts in different patterns, colours and designs. Each day I get to see another t-shirt design with different illustrations of the human skull. Do these particular examples exemplify the proliferation of the skull in contemporary fashion and design?

In my previous updates, my own visual observations demonstrates a growing interest for the skull in Melbourne’s street culture. I have also identified artistic representations of the skull in men’s fashion such as t-shirts, jumpers and jackets that have recently become a high selling point within the mainstream market.

Jacque Lynn Foltyn articulates the iconic imagery of the skull in contemporary art, popular culture, fashion and digital media. Foltyn quotes “In the contemporary world of style, death is worn as a prop in the performance of fashion” (Foltyn, 2010)

Is the skull purchased for commercial value in the Western culture? Perhaps the modern consumer interprets the skull as a popular form of merchandise that is readily available for consumption. Death itself is quite subjective and the skull may establish a different interpretation or response from each consumer.

Is the skull removed from it’s cultural and historical context? I have been asking the same question for the past year and maybe there is’t a specific answer. After researching the Day of the Dead in Mexico I have decided that the skull doesn’t have one specific meaning or explanation. Each culture have their own representations of the human skull and it has been quite challenging to find one definite reason.

In the West however is the skull just another image or representation? Perhaps age, gender, culture and lifestyle may impact one’s own interpretation of the human skull. This particular question has been left unanswered for several months although it is quite hard to tell whether the skull has lost value or authenticity.

Foltlyn, Jacque Lynn. “To Die For: Skull Style and Corpse Chic in Fashion, Imagery and Branding.” Scan Journal 7 (2010) p. 5


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