Controversial streetwear in itself is basically a fashion sub-genre. Some lines keep a slight edge while still containing some form of wearability. However, these seem to do nothing more than try to offend, so I decided to create a list of the most controversial streetwear pieces.
TRIGGER WARNING: HEADS UP, SOME OF THESE MAKE LIGHT OF SERIOUS ISSUES. THESE PIECES ARE NOT “HAHA THATS KIND OF EDGY” FUNNY. SOME MAKE FUN OF SERIOUS WORLD EVENTS AND THEREFORE SHOULD BE VIEWED AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
Golf Pride World Wide – Golf Wang
Tyler, the Creator is a well-known musician who has never shied away from controversy in his music, much-less in his streetwear brand, Golf Wang. One of the biggest controversies Golf Wang faced was the Golf Pride Worldwide tee. This white tee features the neo-nazi white pride worldwide symbol, but has the classic LGBT rainbow coloring over top with the phrase “Golf Pride World Wide.”
Piss Christ – Supreme New York
Supreme New York is well known for releasing some questionable shirts. However, this one stayed in the online shop for weeks. It is unusual for a Supreme tee to sit for even a week nowadays, but this one was just too off the wall. The “Piss Christ” tee features a 1987 photograph from photographer Andres Serrano. The photograph depicts a small crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine. This one must have just been a little too much for hypebeasts to take an interest.
The Family Man – Black Flag
To me, Black Flag is that brand that I know I have seen but have no idea what it is. I remember seeing a specific Black Flag shirt that featured a horrific cartoon depicting some sort of husband and wife murder scene, with a horrified child watching it all. Named “The Family Man” tee, this one joins the group of “shocking for the sake of being shocking, nothing more. After a quick Google, I learned that apparently, Black Flag makes really bad music! Isn’t that neat?
Dirty Mary – FuckThePopulation
FuckThePopulation, otherwise known as FTP, is synonymous with controversy. I could probably make an entire list of controversial FTP items. However, for this list, I will limit myself to 2 items. The first one is forgotten about, and includes a hat and shirt. Named “Dirty Mary”, the line features an explicit parody of the Virgin Mary which is way too NSFW to include a picture of. All I will say is that the Virgin Mary is definitely not a virgin in the shirts timeline. This is one of those shirts that are too graphic to wear even if you enjoy wearing shocking tees.
Alien vs. Predator – Skate Mental
This old school shirt was banned by my school, and I remember thinking that was hilarious. I still kind of do think it is funny, as much as that casts me in a bad light. The Skate Mental “Alien vs Predator” tee features a very crudely drawn E.T. & Michael Jackson, with the phrase “Alien vs Predator” written on it. I do not want to explain what this shirt is insinuating, but it should be pretty obvious to someone who knows anything about Michael. Why drag poor E.T. into all that???
Blackface – Golf Wang
As we have seen, Tyler, the Creator loves to push boundaries, and that is exactly what he did with his “Blackface” line. This line included hats & tees, and caused quite a stir when it was first released, so much in fact that even Tylers friend/collaborator Matt Martian called him out on Twitter, and said he would ”(smack) the shit out of any white dude wearing that Golf Wang blackface shit.” Tyler however defended the shirt in a lengthy blog post, and the entire controversy did not seem to phase him.
Yeezus Tour Merch – Kanye West
If you have made it this far, then Kanye West needs no introduction.
On Yeezys tour, The Yeezus Tour, the merch booth had several jackets, tees, and bags adoring the confederate flag, and similar references to the KKK inbreds. I know Kanye West has some pretty bold political beliefs in 2020 and his fanbase has “slightly” changed. However, it is important to know that in 2014, the people who were flying the rebel flag were not the same people attending a Kanye West show. People were obviously upset, but Kanye never seemed phased by it, saying it was to take the symbol and make it his own. I kind of get it, but sometimes, I really do miss the old Kanye.
9/11 Memorial – Black Scale
Memorial shirts need to be done with respect to the thing they are memorializing, seems obvious right? Well, Black Scale didn’t get the message with their September 11th memorial tee, almost to a point where the design seems purposely offensive. The picture shows both World Trade Center towers, with the inclusion of the shadow of a passenger airplane. Now usually, when a brand has a controversial piece, it at least seems like they are making a statement. But this shirt lacks any true underlying message, or reason, making it seem like nothing more than mocking a tragedy that killed over 3,000 people.
Columbine Physical Education – FuckThePopulation
The number one shirt on this belongs to FTP because of course, it does. This tee is actually considered a grail piece to many streetwear collectors, as it is rumored that only 48 were ever made. The original FTP Columbine tee can safely be considered as the most controversial FTP tee. Featuring a standard physical education class shirt design with the words “Columbine Physical Education”, and “Do You Believe In God?” on the back. To take it a step further, the lookbook was actually photographed in front of the real Columbine High School.
Controversial streetwear is necessary to streetwear, however, it needs to be wearable. It is weird to think that people will design shirts that can obviously not be worn in any social setting, but I guess there maybe someone out there who wants these weird-ass shirts. Do you know any other controversial streetwear pieces? If so, make sure to tell me in the comments below!
Senior at Central State University. Major in Broadcast Media!