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Seven Printed T-Shirts That Make A Statement

Your guide to not looking like a tech geek with this season’s standout tees

The wardrobe of Facebook CEO Mr Mark Zuckerberg, as revealed by a post he published this January on (where else?) Facebook, consists of nine identical grey T-shirts and nine identical dark grey cashmere hoodies. We’re assuming he has nine pairs of identical stone-washed jeans and nine pairs of identical white sneakers in there, too; they must have been just out of shot. This might seem like unusual behaviour to some, but the Zuck has a ready explanation.

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,” said the 32-year-old tech billionaire when quizzed on the subject back in 2014. He went on to explain that “I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous”.

We get it. The last thing you want to be doing when you’re in charge of running the world’s biggest time-wasting machine is wasting time on such frivolous decisions as what to wear, right? But while we can see the appeal of a wardrobe such as Mr Zuckerberg’s – one that removes both the luxury and the burden of choice – we can’t help but find the whole thing a little, well… joyless.

A wardrobe full of grey T-shirts (or white, black or navy, for that matter) is the sartorial equivalent of a kitchen with nothing in it but a six-month supply of Soylent and a blender. It does the job, but not a whole lot else. Given that you’re reading MR PORTER, we’ll assume you’re the kind of guy who expects a little more of his clothes, someone who sees them as a way of expressing himself and having a bit of fun.

With that in mind, we’ve put together our selection of this season’s best printed T-shirts. And, for the tech entrepreneurs among you, why not pay a visit to The Essentials? Plenty of grey tees there.

The Polaroid print

Maison Margiela raids its Polaroid archive for this playful print, which features snaps of leather jackets, models pulling stupid faces, wrists stacked with club stamps and all sorts of other things that remind us of when we were young. There’s also one that says, “PEACE, JOY, PANCAKES”, which doesn’t really remind us of anything, but who doesn’t like pancakes? The design of the T-shirt itself is far from ordinary, as fans of this famously subversive brand will have come to expect. Note the chest pocket, for instance, which is riveted onto the tee like the back pocket on a pair of Levi’s and features a white half-zip running down the middle. Keep the rest of your outfit monochrome. Slim black jeans and a leather jacket should do nicely.

The graphic print

Like his mentor, the Comme des Garçons founder Ms Rei Kawakubo, Mr Junya Watanabe is renowned for his innovative approach to design. One of his calling cards is the use of multiple fabrics in the same garment. Once you come to recognise his trademark patchwork of woollen tweeds, jersey cottons and technical fabrics, which clash and collide beautifully on shirts, jackets and jeans, you can spot it a mile away. It’s a technique deployed here using a mix of printing and patching to jazz up that old classic, the navy tee. As for how to wear it, try picking out a single colour and replicating it elsewhere in your outfit. A pair of suede burgundy sneakers or stone chinos would work.

The icon print

This season, the dynamic Italian design duo, Dolce & Gabbana, have applied their customary rose-tinted lens to the Wild West, crafting a Mr Sergio Leone-inspired vision of men’s style that’s less cowboys and Indians and more cowboys and floral embellishments. Hardly a description of the rugged masculinity with which the West is generally associated, but it does offer you the rare opportunity to own a T-shirt featuring a picture of a late-career Mr James Dean in the classic 1956 Western Giant, with a white silk rose stitched on top to make it look like he’s rocking the biggest boutonnière ever seen. What’s not to like about that? Make it a Western-inspired outfit and wear this one with classic blue jeans and sturdy boots (leaving the Stetson at home).

The playful print

A great one to wear to your next dinner party, this, as it will prompt no end of questions. First, there’s the fact that it looks like it’s inside out, when actually it’s not. Next, there’s the print itself, which plays a key role in Chalayan’s Germany-themed autumn collection, Teutonic. Titled “Nowhere”, it features autobahn signs with the destination names replaced by words stolen from Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. So, instead of a city such as München or Frankfurt, you might have a charming adjective such as verdrießlich (which means sullen or morose) or kohlpechrabenschwarz (as black as pitch). You’ll have to take the T-shirt off to see all of this properly, of course, because, as we said, it looks like it’s inside out. Don’t do this at the dinner party.

The art print

Inspired by the American sculptor Mr John Chamberlain, who created art from salvaged car wrecks, this punchy print from the Scottish designer Christopher Kane shows a vintage pick-up seemingly bursting out of the front of the T-shirt, crushing wing, bonnet and wheel and sending slivers of broken windscreen flying everywhere. Set against a black backdrop for maximum impact, it’s quite the statement and, as such, we’d recommend keeping the rest of your outfit understated – just add dark denim, a bomber jacket and a pair of crisp white sneakers. You wouldn’t want to end up looking like a car crash, now, would you?

The punk print

The shirt range from Comme des Garçons – which is named, imaginatively, Comme des Garçons SHIRT – offered up its shirts and T-shirts to the hot young Japanese artist Mr Masaho Anotani this season with the directive, “Go wild.” He duly obliged, and here is one of the results: a pink shark sporting a cheeky grin painted over a fragmented print of the word “ON”. (It’s highly unlikely that anyone will question the artistic credentials of your T-shirt, but it pays to be prepared, and now you are.) Set off the punky print with distressed denim and lace-up boots.

The animal print

Here, courtesy of the illustrious Parisian brand Lanvin, we have what might be the best Friday-night T-shirt ever made, because nothing says, “I’m having a whale of a time” better than having a picture of an actual whale on your chest. Sure, you could dress in a whale costume and dispense whale facts while standing at the bar – such as “Did you know the humpback whale migrates up to 15,500 miles a year?” or “Did you know that the body and flippers of the humpback whale are home to at least three different species of barnacle?” – but that would arguably be taking it too far. A much better idea would be to wear this, with a varsity jacket, jeans and a pair of Lanvin sneakers (another Friday-night classic), and forget the whale facts already.