You may be thinking who is she, well we’re about to tell you but you will know her work. Do you remember those Frankie Says Relax t-shirts from the 80’s. Yep they are from our subject today (though the Frankie slogan wasn’t her work if often attributed to her). Hamnett has led the way to showing that fashion doesn’t have to hurt, and that its more than just frivolous. In her time Katharine Hamnett has taken on such diverse people as Margaret Thatcher and the military rulers of Burma.
She was born in Gravesend in August 1947, and followed the usual path to fashion greatness by eventually attending St Martins, and founding her label Katharine E Hamnett in 1979. By the mid-80’s she had a successful career that she risked bu launching the now infamous range of T-Shirts, fashion designers weren’t meant to care about these things, the London look at the time was the Sloane Ranger as modelled by Princess Diana. Musicians picked up her designs such as Queen and a legacy was born. The line of T-shirts has never gone away, and they are to this day a form of rebellion and awareness that many choose to drape themselves in.
You’d think that was enough, but Hamnett again broke the mould in 1989 when she started campaigning against sweat shops, pesticides in cotton growing and improved conditions for textile workers. She took the step of terminating every single licensing agreement that she felt was contrary to her beliefs and has worked ever since to only produce garment from ethical sources.
We declare the bravery to change, and the constant work to improve the worst aspects of this industry as the reason that Katharine Hamnett is our first Fashion Hero.