Remembering 2012 Rihanna Loud T-Shirt
It seems that much of this tendency is rooted in a budding (hetero)sexuality. Rihanna was the it-girl of the moment, a pin-up for a legion of teenagers, whether they interacted with her music or not. It was the late Virgil Abloh who in 2015 said that “graphic t-shirts are the most important and expressive format for a designer or a person,” and that’s exactly what was going on here. Not only does the wearer want to communicate that they identify with what Rihanna symbolized, which is scorching sex appeal, but in doing so, they make them members of that very specific cultural group.
However, belonging to this group was not all it was made out to be. As fast as the t-shirt caught the attention of likely guys across the country, it would also draw a similar amount of ire.
A Facebook group with a hilarious title “No, this Rihanna t-shirt won’t cut you a hole. You look like a wanker” premiered in August 2011, now a time capsule from a bygone era. Pictures of said “wankers” in their Rihanna t-shirts filled the group’s feed, with a number of sometimes quite heavy comments below. “If I saw someone with this top, I would abstain,” says one user. “If you go out dressed like that you deserve to be shot,” said another. Damn.
“It’s quite extreme,” says Daniel from London, when I tell him about the band, “it has never been so deep for me”. Daniel also owned the t-shirt in 2011, but for different reasons than Calum and Martin. “Being gay, I was obviously never interested in picking up girls – I just wore it because I liked Rihanna. This album was on a loop.
As an aspiring singer himself, Daniel just wanted to pay homage to one of his favorite pop girls. “It was such an iconic time. The music, especially the hair – she really killed him with that. Maybe the straights were fighting in the Facebook comments, but I was having a great time.