On some occasions, the difference between aggressive marketing and subversion can become very thin.
An emblematic example of this particular overlap dates back to the 90s and is the work of FUCT, a historic streetwear brand founded in Los Angeles, California by Erik Brunetti and skateboarder Natas Kaupas.
Pronounced “fuck*d”, the brand has always used graphics that we would call controversial on issues such as politics, religion and social matters.
After three decades of existence, it is considered a real cult brand in the streetwear scene of all time.
The peculiarity of FUCT lies also in a subversive message hidden in every OG tee of the early ’90s: on the iconic inner label Star and Stripes you can read: “steal this garment”.
This kind of message was reinforced and reaffirmed in the mid ’00 thanks to the reissue of a series of retro tees with the iconic 90’s prints, where was represented the mug shot of Wendy O. Williams, punk heroine, Plasmatics frontwoman and heavy metal soloist, with the caption: “Steal This Garment & The Only Free Choice Is Refusal To Pay”.
Obviously pushing and inciting the theft of their own bosses doesn’t seem to be the idea of the century, but for FUCT it was all part of its founder’s anti-establishment philosophy.
Brunetti has always harshly criticized American culture, condemning its unbridled capitalism, pop culture, the constant references to religion, and much more. In fact, “Steal This Garment” was part of a much broader and more articulated nihilist attitude.
It is very likely that everything started from a book, “Steal This Book”, published in 1971 by the American activist and politician Abbie Hoffman, a real vademecum of counterculture in which he tells and explains how to fight the government in every possible way and by any means. The very title of the book is an obvious invitation to subvert the rules established by society and to shed the cards of custom by committing a crime, advocated by the author himself.
A story that of “steal this garment” that goes beyond the concept of streetwear, but perhaps represents its true essence, made of rebellion, opposition, disobedience and disorder.