Katherine Hamnett CBE is an English fashion designer, best known for her political T-shirts and her ethical business philosophy.
After graduating from Central Saint Martins - then Saint Martins School of Art - the designer started her eponymous label in 1971, following with her addition of Menswear to the brand in 1981. That year also saw her release the first of many slogan t-shirts 'CHOOSE LIFE,' famously worn by George Michael in Wham's music video for 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.' Other slogan t-shirts, 'EDUCATION NOT MISSILES,' 'WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW,' 'PEACE, SAVE THE WORLD,' 'CLEAN UP OR DIE,' and 'SAVE THE FUTURE' quickly followed and are central to the Hamnett DNA of the provocative and political writ large.
Starting her venture into the importance of sustainability in fashion, Hamnett began researching pesticide poisoning in cotton-growing regions, and sweatshop labour in 1989, which caused her to start campaigning for significant changes in the industry and is now one of the most globally influential designers when it comes to sustainability and political activism.
Katharine Hamnett created a series of slogan t-shirts with messages' PROTEST AND SURVIVE' and 'SAVE THE WORLD' for Fashion Aid which was an off-shoot of Band Aid to raise money for victims of famine in Africa. The event featured many more of the world's best-known fashion designers including Armani and Yves Saint Laurent, with designs presented by top models including Grace Jones, Jerry Hall and Boy George.
Hamnett has been honoured many awards during her political career, including the first-ever British Fashion Awards and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours, for services to the fashion industry. She was also voted Britain's favourite designer by readers of Cosmopolitan in 1996.