Che Guevara in fashion
The Che Guevara trend or "Che chic" is a fashion trend featuring the Argentinian born revolutionary, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The phenomena has attracted attention from the media, political commentators, and Cuban American activists, due to the popularity of the T-shirt design, Che's political beliefs, and the "ironic" nature of buying a t-shirt depicting a Marxist icon. As op-ed commentator Chris Berg has noted in The Age, "Ironically, Che Guevara's longevity as a cultural symbol has been thanks to the very economic system he sought to destroy".
Che Guevara's image is a very popular design for clothing, so much so that Che's likeness has been known as "the face that launched a thousand T-shirts". Commentators have noted how the t-shirt is popular among younger adults, especially university students who find the rebelliousness associated with the icon appealing. Richard Castle of the Brisbane Times wryly observes that "strolling down Brunswick Street or Chapel Street, it could be easy to think Che Guevara was the only man under 40 never to have worn a Che Guevara T-shirt". The recent popularity of Che-related fashion has been attributed to economic troubles, which make Che's message more appealing.
The image depicted on Che chic is based on the Guerrillero Heroico photograph. It is unknown when the Che photograph was first used as a fashion design, although the photograph was first given an artistic rework in a series of 1967 posters by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick.
The popularity of the trend has been criticised for downplaying Che's flaws and romanticising his actions. Critics claim that youth support the icon without being aware of the controversial figure behind it, who has been accused of using violence as a means to achieve his objectives and driving Cuba into economic disaster. Critics have called the trend a "T-shirt fad".
Members of the Cuban exile community have voiced opposition to Che chic, and other depictions of Che as a pop cultural icon for the same reasons.
Aleida Guevara, the eldest daughter of Che Guevara, has defended the fashion trend derived from her father's image, saying: "But look at the people who wear Che T-shirts. They tend to be those who don't conform, who want more from society, who are wondering if they can be better human beings. That, I think, he would have liked". In June 2010, at a two-day Che related conference in Vancouver, Canada, she commented that the "ubiquitous exploitation" of Che Guevara’s image as fashion trend would have made her revolutionary father laugh, joking that "He probably would have been delighted to see his face on the breasts of so many beautiful women."
- Berg, Chris (October 14, 2007). "Che chic: you've ignored the horrors, now buy the T-shirt". The Age. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Chrisafis, Angelique (May 3, 2003). "Che, my father: His face adorned the T-shirts and posters of a student generation. Even 35 years after his death Che Guevara remains an icon. But to his daughter Aleida he is the mysterious visitor who gave her sweets". The Guardian. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Porter, Barney (October 8, 2007). "Che Guevara remembered". ABC News. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Castles, Richard (June 28, 2009). "Have a life, willing to buy the T-shirt". Brisbane Times. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- White, Tanika (April 4, 2005). "MEAN WHAT YOU WEAR ; This year's T-shirt has something to get off its wearer's chest". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 3, 2004.
- Watkins, Valentine (May 3, 2010). "Cool t-shirt, bro". Salient (magazine). Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Trisha Ziff, Che Guevara: Revolutionary & Icon, Abrams Image, 2006, pg 21
- Bowen III, DK (October 23, 2007). "Che Guevara: once a revolutionary, now just a T-shirt fad". The Collegian. Retrieved November 5, 2010.[dead link]
- Marquez, Myriam (April 4, 2005). "Revolutionist Che Guevara T-Shirts Keep Reality Under Wraps". Clarkson University. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- Che would have been Delighted with T-shirts, says Daughter by Kyle Farquharson, Metro Vancouver, June 28, 2010