This T-Shirt Says a Lot by Saying ‘Nothing’

Alexandra Mondalek
Model in T-shirt reading,
The opening look at the Pyer Moss fashion show serves as a staunch contrast to the obviously political T-shirts other designers debuted during fashion week. (Photo: Getty Images)

This year, New York Fashion Week has become a sounding board for all things political. Most visibly, T-shirts and hats and pins abound, promoting, as in equality for all; pronouncing, as in a feminist future; and punctuating, as in the political climate of late.

Challenging that — or perhaps adding to it — is designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of label Pyer Moss. On Feb. 14, Jean-Raymond’s Pyer Moss show opened with a model wearing a T-shirt that read, “Nothing to say.”

If nothing more, the shirt was refreshing after a week in which we’ve been inundated with blatant political messaging across runways. But that doesn’t mean the Pyer Moss shirt isn’t conveying a deeper message. The opening look could be a sardonic take on the other shirts we’ve seen this season. It could be an invitation into a conversation, as if to convey that its wearer really does have something to say. It could mean that after the stress and distress of a brutal election season that divided Americans on nearly every topical subject, the wearer is left speechless, exasperated. You could analyze it endlessly.

And once you consider that the T-shirt is worn by a black woman, confronting the camera with natural hair and a piercing gaze, identity politics elevate the subliminal. Maybe she doesn’t want to keep validating her existence, having already done that for a lifetime. There’s simply nothing left to say, and she doesn’t owe us any requisite explanation.

To be sure, Jean-Raymond, an industry novice, has made a name for himself by selling clothes interwoven with the political. In 2014, Jean-Raymond created T-shirts that listed the names of the victims of police violence. Last season, sweatshirts and jackets were stamped with the word greed, part of a collection that underscored themes of economic inequality. And outside of Pyer Moss, Jean-Raymond has been an ardent activist at Standing Rock, aiding protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline, something he noted at the beginning of his fall/winter 2017 show.

Unlike the Prabal Gurung show — in which a handful of T-shirts had political messages scrawled across them — the Pyer Moss show only featured this one. Per the designer’s own commentary, the rest of the collection focused instead on unisex pieces that drew inspiration from Jean-Raymond’s relationship with his father. But we’ll let those speak for themselves.

Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style and Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.

Related: Anna Wintour Seen Wearing This Political Accessory at the Brock Collection Show

Let’s keep in touch! Follow Yahoo Beauty on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.