How to tap the DIY style of Instagram’s teen trailblazers

From feminist doodles to self love slogans, your favourite online icons are elevating the humble t-shirt with their own designs – here’s how to get the look

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Me and You
LA Girls by Mayan ToledanoMe and You

In the early 1990s, would-be Riot Grrrl revolutionaries would identify one another by the writing on their hands. In her book, writer Sarah Marcus recalls the secret instructions she received via one flyer in the mail: “Magic marker works good…you can draw hearts or stars or write words on yr fingers, whatever.” It’s a DIY spirit that speaks to the current generation of feminist and LGBTQ youths, who, spurred on by a desire to inject feminism into fashion, are customising and creating clothes that can speak to a connected generation. Their medium of choice tends towards the egalitarian: plain white t-shirts, knickers, socks. But when the slogans are directly informed by the concerns of the internet’s diverse, inclusive communities, the results are more than just a way of identifying fellow switched on teens: they’re an essential form of self-expression for individuals. If you’ve ever wondered where Dazed cover star Amandla Stenberg and Tavi Gevinson get their awesome threads, here’s your starter course in tapping the new breed of DIY labels.

TYLER FORD'S T-SHIRTS

Last June, Miley Cyrus turned up to the amFAR gala with a Dr Martens-wearing date on her arm – one Tyler Ford, a queer, agender New Yorker who writes for Rookie Mag and MTV. Besides writing Tumblr poetry, working with Cyrus’ Happy Hippie foundation and taking photos, Ford has also started making their own t-shirts to further inspire queer and transgender youth. Emblazoned with messages of self-empowerment – ‘Compliment Yourself’ is our favourite – the fierce tees are available on Ford’s website.

GRACE MICELI’S ART BABY GIRL

When Grace Miceli graduated college in 2011, she had to go back to Vermont and live with her parents – not exactly a hotbed for artistic communities. So she turned to the internet, hot-wiring the hive teen mind to create her own online gallery space, Art Baby Gallery. The gallery’s digi-feminist stance is channelled into Miceli’s online clothing range, Art Baby Girl. For a taste of the knowing aesthetic, one design displays Drake lyrics in the style of Jenny Holzer's Inflammatory Essays (as sported by Tavi, above). The duo's latest “Girls at Night on the Internet” sweatshirt is a reference to Miceli’s IRL exhibition, showing at Brooklyn’s alt space gallery this month and featuring names like Arvida Bystrom, Petra Collins and BBHM gang member, Sanam Sindhi.

JULIA BAYLIS AND MAYAN TOLEDANO’S ME AND YOU

The beloved brainchild of BFFs Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis, Me and You is the girl’s girl label adored by teen dreamers everywhere. Part of the same inclusive universe that encompasses Petra Collins’ photography and Tavi Gevinson’s journalism, you could say that Me and You is doing for knicker drawers what Rookie did for teen magazines. The brand already boasts classics like the ‘Feminist’ print, including signature granny pants (as recently worn by Cherry Glazerr singer, Clementine Creevy). Their latest must buy is a little fiercer: the Don’t Touch sweatshirt, as sported by Dazed cover star Amandla Stenberg.

 

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