First off, let’s be clear: Wear what you want. Your personal fashion choices shouldn’t be second guessed by others, and only assholes go around questioning whether you’ve earned the right to wear a Silver Surfer shirt or whatever.
That said, it certainly never hurts to understand the context of what you’re wearing, including when you find a piece of retro pop culture that matches your personal aesthetic. Maybe you’re wearing it ironically, which is totally fine, but step one in deciding if your fashion message is ironic is knowing whether you actually like it.
To that end, Belgian radio station Studio Brussel has set itself on a mission to get influencers and fashion fans listening to the heavy metal bands whose vintage shirts have become increasingly popular among the Instagram VIP crowd.
“It’s Time to Listen to Your T-shirt” is a mildly snarky campaign from agency Mutant to promote Studio Brussel’s annual metal special, The Loudest List. Ads and digital video for the campaign use images of real influencers and stars wearing metal band shirts.
The creative team acknowledges that each person’s connection to metal is different, and some high-profile fashion icons (or those who follow their wardrobe lead) probably are fans of the bands. But if not, Studio Brussel is offering its Loudest List as a good resource for finding out whether you’ll love the audio as much as the aesthetic.
The campaign also highlights an ongoing rift between some of the bands whose shirts have seen mainstream popularity, while their music has remained niche. For example, one of the ads uses a shot of Kendall Jenner wearing a Slayer shirt—a post some interpreted as a response to Slayer’s Gary Holt wearing a “Kill the Kardashians” shirt on stage.
The campaign also includes a shot of Justin Bieber, who’s frequently co-opted the metal aesthetic, even hiring one of the genre’s most respected designers to create his 2016 tour logo.
“We’re actually hopeful that people like Kendall Jenner give metal a chance and find something they love about it,” Mutant copywriter Olaf Meuleman told Adweek. “Some of these influencers with band shirts even publicly admit that they don’t know any song of the shirt they’re wearing. But, they’ve already made first contact by showing interest in the aesthetic of the genre, now the part where they discover the music can follow.”
Meuleman said the point of the campaign was not to mock non-fans who wear metal shirts, but rather to encourage them to “give the actual music a chance.”
The agency said that all images used in paid media for the campaign were cleared and licensed.
Client: Studio Brussel
Campaign: Time to listen to your T-shirt
Agency: Mutant, Belgium
Creative Director: Odin Saillé
Art Director: Johan Van Oeckel
Copywriter: Olaf Meuleman
Account: Sophie M’Sallem