Katharine Hamnett
Background information
Born UK
Occupation Fashion designer
Years active 1970s-present
Associated acts Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fashion Designer

Katharine E. Hamnett (born 16 August 1947, in Gravesend, Kent) is an English fashion designer best known for her political t-shirts and her ethical business philosophy. In November 2010 Duran Duran modelled shirts designed by Katharine during a photo session for All You Need Is Now.


Katharine graduated from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and founded the Katharine E. Hamnett clothier in 1979.

In the early 1980s Hamnett's oversized t-shirts with large block letter slogans were adopted by pop bands including Wham!, with her 'CHOOSE LIFE' slogan prominently displayed in the music video for "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" and somewhat less prominently in Queen's video for "Hammer To Fall" (worn by Roger Taylor). In 1984, ZTT's Paul Morley designed a series of "FRANKIE SAY..." T-shirts to promote the record label's chart act Frankie Goes to Hollywood (FGTH). Morley has stated that these designs were consciously based on Hamnett's slogan T-shirts: "What persuaded me was reading Katharine Hamnett saying she wanted the T-shirts ripped off."

Hamnett has since expressed scepticism that t-shirt slogans accomplish anything concrete. The "CHOOSE LIFE" slogan, which in the context of the day was directed at drug abuse and suicide, has since been misappropriated by the pro-life movement, even appearing on license plates in Florida and Alabama.

Beginning in 1989, with research showing pesticide poisoning in cotton-growing regions, and sweatshop labour a major part of the textiles industry, Hamnett began lobbying for major changes in the way the industry operated. After disappointment with the results, Hamnett terminated most of her licensing arrangements, and in 2005 relaunched her line under stricter ethical guidelines, including manufacturing and agricultural practices.

A selection of designsEdit


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