Author Archives: Jim Lee W

About Jim Lee W

I am a mature student who is trying to become fitter and more healthy. Unfortunately there's a possibility my innate laziness and sweet tooth may thwart my plans!

I can finally buy Justice League t-shirts with Wonder Woman on them! Woohoo!

I am a fan of the Justice League of America and have been for many years, although I’m a graphic novel kind of geek rather than a comic book one. As many other fans do I enjoy wearing t-shirts to show my fandom so I have some Justice League ones.

Until recently my favourite member of the JLA was missing from my attire: Wonder Woman.

This T-shirt I got for Christmas 2015 from my friend Sarah and it’s awesome.  There’s a subtlety to the print that works really well.  The heroes are easily recognizable even though they are in silhouette, but they’re all men.

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This one I got for 2016.  It’s one of my favourite pieces that gets a lot of wear as I am very fond of the emblems, which all belong to male superheroes.

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As great as these two t-shirts are they are missing the female member of the JLA who, let’s be honest, has been an integral part of the team for a long time.

Then along came the movie Wonder Woman and BAM; she’s on clothing made for men as a member of the Justice League of America.

So for Christmas 2017 my fiancé purchased this t-shirt for me and I could not be happier about it.  At last I have Wonder Woman on a t-shirt alongside the rest of her team mates; where she belongs.

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Whilst I am delighted that this change has come I am disappointed that it was not sooner.

This is one example of how a successful film can change popular culture for the better.  But it’s not just her own film that brought about this change; Gal Gadot‘s turns in Batman Vs Superman and Justice League completely outshone her male counterparts.

Hopefully this will herald a new era in female superheroes being represented not only on women’s wear but also on men’s wear.

Review: T-Shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion. Fashion and Textile Museum, London.

As an avid t-shirt wearer how could I not visit a new exhibition focusing on this wardrobe staple?

T-Shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion brings its own very specific look to the Fashion and Textile Museum. The black walls and scaffolding used in the displays provide an industrial feel that is very fitting with the title of the exhibition, if not a little clichéd.

The exhibition is separated into a lot of sections; Typologies, Embellishment Techniques, Agitprop, Collecting, With the Band, Personal/Political, Unisex, Ethics and Ecology, Pop Goes the T-shirt, Art to Wear, This is Not a T-shirt and Fashion Statement. Despite all of these the exhibit is quite small and does not take long to take in. Which can be seen as an advantage.

A large amount of space is given to the Vivienne Westwood t-shirt collection of Lee Price, and rightly so. This is an interesting collection showing a large range of Westwood’s t-shirts from the 70s through to today. It is one of the highlights of the exhibit.

With the Band has an array of t-shirts that depict imagery from music artists and bands past and present. A greater collection of original t-shirts would have made this a more interesting area, but it still had its appeal. The best part of this section was “Lou, Andy, Marilyn and Henry.”

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Fashion Statement had a good range of t-shirts that have been seen on the catwalk, including Moschino, Dior and Gucci. These are some of the few shown on a mannequin, as befits such iconic names of the fashion industry.

The most disappointing was the Personal/Political category, which was by far the one I was most looking forward to. Unfortunately these t-shirts are displayed in such a way that it is not possible to look at them all individually. They are put one behind the other and quite close together. As one of the most important uses of slogan t-shirts it is a shame that this part was not given more prominence.

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My personal favourite was the Unisex segment. This fun instalment showed male and female mannequins wearing t-shirts that would usually be aimed at the opposite gender. This was most striking on the male mannequins; seeing lipstick, artistic vaginas and breasts on a male form has quite some impact. The t-shirts on the female mannequins had no where near the same impact; which is due to the choice of garment rather than the female form.

Where the male forms were wearing artistic and feminist imagery the female ones showed what can mostly be described as geeky (a superman t-shirt, a printed tuxedo) or gay (a muscled torso with piercings and chains, He-Man Masc and She-Ra Dom Top t-shirts). This difference between the style of t-shirts worn by the mannequins is somewhat unfair but does not detract from what is a playful section.

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This exhibition could have a broad audience from those interested from a fashion perspective to those with an interest in cultural studies. The political and subversive messages that have been displayed across people’s chests for decades have made t-shirts an important part of society.

T-Shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion runs until 6th May at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, London.  Book your tickets here

I love photos of me

For many years now I have considered myself to be the type who didn’t like having his photo taken.  It turns out I was wrong.

Being at university studying fashion journalism has put me in front of the lens on a number of occasions and I have to admit that I love it.  From the group photo shoot that we all did on the last day of our first week to just last week where I was literally just filling in for lighting purposes.  Being in front of the camera in a studio setting is becoming like second nature to me.

I am not sure what is happening here but I think it is just a case my narcissistic tendencies getting their time in the sun.

Let’s be clear though; I still don’t like selfies!

Crossing Gender Boundaries

It was in the 1920s that modern clothing first crossed gender boundaries in a major way when trousers were introduced into women’s wear. Almost 100 years on it is deemed acceptable, by society, for women to wear traditionally masculine attire but it is still frowned upon for men to wear more feminine clothes.

In her 2001 song, “What it Feels Like for a Girl,” Madonna addressed this issue with the suggestion that it is degrading for boys to look like girls.

For years men have been trying to cross the gender boundaries of fashion, whether it is through clothing or make-up. We are still, however, in an age when a man cannot walk the streets in a skirt or make-up without drawing disapproving glances at one end of the spectrum to physical violence at the other end.

Even famous men have been ridiculed in the press for their courage from David Bowie in the 1970s, Boy George in the 1980s and even style icon David Beckham wearing his sarong as recently as 1998.

As we enter a new era in which the Millennials are becoming the new faces to follow with their less prejudiced ideals we can finally see the breaking down of some barriers without the behind the hand sniggers of the press. When Jaden Smith fronted Louis Vuitton’s women’s wear range this year he was widely praised rather than derided.

2016 has also seen an introduction of the ‘agender’ or ‘unisex’ clothing range from such retail giants as Selfridges and Zara, for example.  What is clear, however, is that they are mostly still biased towards masculine styles of clothing with jeans, t-shirts, shorts and sports-jackets being the main staples of such collections.

The same can be seen out and about with so many people of both genders donning the uniform of skinny jeans, boots, t-shirt and bomber jacket so beloved of high-profile names from Justin Bieber to Gigi Hadid. Whilst this is a step-forward in gender neutral styling it can still be argued that masculine style is predominant.

Some light can be seen at the end of the tunnel though for whilst we may be a long way off men’s skirts and dresses being acceptable on the high street there is a softening of what we can wear on our top halves. T-shirts have enjoyed longer hems throughout the summer and cardigans this winter are longer, button-free and flowing.

There is still some way to go before the final taboo of it being acceptable for men to dress in what may be seen as feminine styles is to be broken down but there is an increasing pace towards it.

Some recent runway shows have really pushed the boundaries of masculine ideals for menswear, which is a refreshing and daring step. One of the most exciting of these is Palomo Spain whose third collection debuted at “New York Fashion Week: Men’s” at the beginning of the month.  The clothes in this collection were decadent and beautiful.  As with his previous collections they tear down the taboo of femininity within menswear with outstanding design and style.

Another collection that bends the rules is the Balmain Men’s FW17 campaign that mixes the masculinity of military patterns with cuts that have a flair and style more closely associated with women’s wear.  Additionally their SS17 collection that teams bright colours and knitwear that have a more gentle feel than some traditional men’s wear staples.

As more designers break away from the stereotypes that have been created by the 20th century, men can begin to enjoy a larger variety of attire that can allow the expressing of more than just one aspect of our humanity.

Not only this but, in the 21st century gender is becoming more fluid so it is fitting that clothing meets the needs of all, not just the majority.  If gender neutral and gender biased clothing can break away from the dominating masculinity, a new age of fashion can open the door to acceptance for more individuality and the expressing of one’s true self.

Why I don’t do mirror selfies.

I mostly photograph clothing grids or my shoes and socks for my Instagram page for a number of reasons, including the dilemma of how to pose for a mirror selfie.

Do you look in the mirror, at your phone screen or at the phone viewfinder?  Do you pose with the phone at eye level, therefore obscuring part of your face or down low, which looks weird?  Do you only take a photo of your clothes, therefore cutting off your own head and becoming a faceless figure?  There are too many questions that need to be answered and that is just too much thinking for a fashion post.

Photographs taken by another person are also just more aesthetically pleasing and, since I do not currently have a constant photographer companion, I choose to take photos that I find appealing.  In time I would like to include more photos of me, but they will need to be taken by someone else.

Recently, however, I bought an amazing new coat from Topman so I wanted to do it some justice by showing it on.  My fiancé had already left for work and I was not meeting anyone the first day I wore it so a selfie had to do.  I stood before my bedroom mirror bundled up in coat, gloves, hat and scarf (for full effect) trying to snap pictures of myself that did not make me look like a complete weirdo.  Alas I failed and they all made me look like a complete weirdo:

Still, I posted a selfie on Instagram that day, which has since resulted in 36 likes and two positive comments, giving me some sense of pride.  The process of doing so and the strangeness I felt in posing for myself before a mirror have ensured that this will not be something that I repeat in a great hurry.

Unless, of course, I find that one piece of clothing that makes me look like Ryan Reynolds.