I love when a fashion statement goes beyond style. Fashion is one way to say so much about who you are without saying anything at all, which is quite amazing if you take the time to think about it.
Your body is your canvas in which you paint with clothing.
So, when I stumbled across Icon State and saw their Audrey Hepburn I Love Fags shirt, a piece of me died. I fell in love with the fashion statement that was obviously stunning, but that was, more importantly, meaningful. While some may argue that the term is offensive, I argue that it’s all in the way you say it, but that’s an entirely different story in itself.
Instead, today I want to focus this fashion blog post on the actual brand of Icon State. It’s owned and operated by a straight man who’s married with kids, which isn’t “typical” – and I love things that aren’t expected! The owner’s craft is wildly amazing, and his designs have the ability to change the way people think. Plus, some of the stuff is downright hilarious and we could all use some humour in our life. So, I sought out to interview the man behind Icon State.
If I had to describe Icon State as a brand, I would say
It’s fashion for the heart; artistic, creative designs that let you make a statement that goes beyond style.
But I really wanted to know more about Icon State from the creator, and here’s what I discovered…
What inspired you to create Icon State?
A flash of genius.
Genius is right! If you had to describe your brand in one sentence, what would you say?
I would say… Icon State is a brand for people that love life and all it has to offer; there are no boundaries, nothing off limits.
I like it! I am all about pushing boundaries, so I can see why I was so enticed by your brand in particularly, the I LOVE FAGS shirt. What made you come up with that?
I have learned that our life is shaped by belief. My beliefs have changed considerably over the last decade. (I have had some great influences.) I believe we are all human. Everyone here has a heart and feelings. Nothing separates us but belief. I grew up with the belief that being a homosexual was a sin. Something that you would go to hell for. After much reading and thinking, I decided that that was bullshit.
Interesting. Religion and homosexuality. You don’t even want to get me started on that. While I’m sure it’s a long, progressive story, is there one individual or one situation that made you rethink your beliefs?
Yes. Sigmund Freud and his response to a woman who was requesting his help curing her son who was gay in 1935. “I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime –and a cruelty, too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis…”
That’s quite insightful; many people lack information about the greats of the world, and their sexuality. What do you think contributes more to those growing up with homophobia today? Ignorance as mentioned by Sigmund Freud or religion, as mentioned by you earlier?
I would say religion.
And how do you intend to address this with Icon State?
I have reflected on what I am doing with Icon State. It is Art. What is Art? (Famous question, practically unanswerable). Taking the word State. I am a rebel to my core. I remember in kindergarten a teacher told us not to touch the wall while walking in line. Of course I reached out and touched it. And I got in trouble. I’ve been doing that my whole life. And I ask the question “why?”
Back to the state analogy, it is in a way, subversive propaganda… Shirts designed to make people think a little.
For instance one of the newest design is a shirt with a bird on it, a swallow, along with the word “swallow”. Of course the intention is a sexual euphemism. But when people want to get pissed that read it, well, they are the ones with the dirty mind. It is just a swallow. Hahaha
When you encourage someone to think beyond what they know, you’re going to inevitably be quite controversial; you are inevitably going to rub people the wrong way. Did this make you hesitant to put yourself out there in such a vulnerable way, especially as a straight male?
I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be questioned on my sexuality. I loved my design and that it was great. Austin Pride was coming up and I just decided to go with it. We tested the shirt to make sure it was positively received by gay people. They kept commenting on how they “loved it”. So I sold my car, and with the help of an investor I printed the shirts and went to Austin. I couldn’t believe the number of gay people marching in the parade. I recall thinking how awful it would be to have to hide your love for someone or hide your sexual preference just because a society decided it is wrong. I was glad to be in a city that supported people being themselves.
What are some new, controversial chic fashion statements we can expect from the Icon State in the future?
One newest design is a shirt with a bird on it, a swallow, along with the word “swallow”. Of course the intention is a sexual euphemism. But when people want to get pissed that read it, well, they are the ones with the dirty mind. It is just a swallow.
Another fashion statement we are about to make for my son who is 6. I had him draw up a Santa clause with a Christmas tree. We are going to write, “Santa Ain’t Real.” It’s going to piss people off. But why? Because they lie to their kids?
Your fashion brand certainly makes people think outside of the way they’re used to thinking, which often ruffles some feathers.Have you experienced any backlash from your brand, hate mail, losing friends, disappointed family members? How did you deal with that?
I experienced backlash when I expressed that I no longer held the same beliefs about religion that most do in my family and community. It isn’t easy. Now I think they all just consider me somewhat of not totally crazy…
A friend of mine kept suggesting for me to read Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power. It is pretty practical on how to handle any issues we may face.
That’s really unfortunate. A lot of people lose friends, family and other loved ones just because they won’t conform to the norm. What advice would you give someone dealing with similar issues you went through, someone who wants to be who they are but they’re scared?
Wear our shirts and wear them proud!!! Life is too short to worry about what other people are thinking.
And there you have it! Check out Icon State Fashion and show the world who you are. I intend on never taking my I Love Fags shirt off EVER again…. and I have like 5 of them, so I’m set. I hope you are too! Shop today, make a fashion statement and enjoy being controversial, ruffling some feathers and more importantly, being who you want to be.