‘Frankie Say Relax’ T-shirts
It was so simple. Three black words on a white t-shirt. Frankie. Say. Relax.
They were all the rage in 1984 following the release of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Of course the slogan is taken from the most famous (and notorious) single from that album– “Relax”… the über-catchy club hit about… well, showing restraint.
Paul Morley, who founded ZTT Records (FGTH’s label), is credited with the design, basing it on almost-identical shirts by British designer Katharine Hamnett. They were, predictably, an overnight sensation, and teens throughout Britain clamored to get them, sporting one of three different slogans: ‘Frankie Say Relax’, ‘Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself’, and ‘Frankie Say Arm the Unemployed’.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that in January 1984, the BBC banned the song “Relax” from all its TV and radio outlets. All of a sudden the shirts were not only cool, they were also subversive. Gold mine!
It wasn’t too long before the shirts made it across the Atlantic to a teenage audience more-than-eager to shell out the cash for them. Don’t tell us that you didn’t either have one or want one. We’d know it’s a lie.
Since their heyday, the shirt’s ultra-distinctive look has been ripped off and duplicated countless times, often as a modern-day source of 80s nostalgia. Among the more famous references, the hilarious scene in a March 1997 episode of Friends titled “The One With the Tiny T-Shirt.”
Frankie Goes to Hollywood may have called it quits in 1987, but they never really went away. And they never will… thanks to these awesome t-shirts.
We ♥ Frankie Say Relax T-shirts.
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