The Women’s Shirt: A Feminist Manifesto

At Henri we’re all about female empowerment. From here in London at our studio and factory, to our cotton producers in India and the female entrepreneurs we collaborate with – we celebrate that strong women are the majority of the workforce that goes into making our shirts.
We’ve delved into the history of shirts and how it became a garment that as women, we can fully own.
In today’s world of fast fashion and constantly changing trends, the classic shirt remains our fashion hero, labelled a ‘wardrobe staple’. Unbeknown to many, this garment has an interesting history, with a historical and political significance - especially for women! 
At Henri, we are interested in not only women’s fashion, but women’s issues and thought we’d do some digging to find out how this clothing item has not only played a role in women’s fashion but has also acted as a tool for them to express their femininity and sexuality. 
The white collared shirt has historically been worn by men at work and was not accepted in women’s fashion. It therefore took on gendered connotations of power and masculinity. This luckily changed over time, partly due to women taking on traditionally male jobs in the post-war era. During this time we see the emergence of the shirt in women’s fashion and also crucially at this point the first time women start to wear trousers.
During the 40’s and 50’s when ‘femininity’ was in the spotlight, curves were the focus and the shirt was worn by women in a more flirty way, nipped in at the waist with a hint of cleavage on show. This was in many ways, a method for women to use their femininity to reclaim the masculine shirt and as a result, empower themselves. However, at the same time many Hollywood icons adopted the more masculine shirt as an alternative to traditionally defined ‘feminine’ styles. 
This continued into the 1960s, when androgynous styles became the fashion. Twiggy led the movement, which Vogue have referred to as ‘an unaware feminist manifesto’ as societal views of what was ‘feminine’ were rejected by fashion and the focus was geared towards redefining what it meant to dress like a woman in the fashion world.
Today, the shirt is worn boldly by women all over the world, a sign that gender equality is constantly on the up. We’re ever thankful for the path that was paved for a more diverse and comfortable way of dressing as well as enabling expression of personality and style through clothing. Our shirts are aimed at the modern woman who seeks comfort, quality and empowerment from her clothing: shirts for women, made by women.