Satya has ceased publication. This website is maintained for informational purposes only.

To learn more about the upcoming Special Edition of Satya and Call for Submissions, click here.

back issues


February 2003
Message T-shirts: Retail Therapy?

By Rachel Cernansky


Here in the Satya office, we’ve been doing some serious shopping the last few weeks. It’s the last thing you (or rather, we) might expect, but following the December/January issue on slavery, we felt a need to find positive consumer alternatives to the problems that exist, at some level, in most any product we use in our everyday lives. Rather than boycotting, well, everything, we sought companies working to provide sustainable and compassionate alternatives, so that individuals are able to align their ethics with their purchases and use their dollars to actively support those working for positive change.

We began searching for “cruelty-free” fashion with a focus on message-gear, seeking out thought-provoking and eye-catching apparel. We started off with a rather pessimistic disposition, as message-Tees in the past have all too often carried messages not worth sending, or had good messages but fit like nightgowns. As we searched, however, we became increasingly hopeful and inspired, finding many companies coming up with incredibly cool and creative ways to mix fashion and social messages. Companies donating their profits, for example, to one cause or another, while the consumer gets to send a message with every item purchased. By making such purchases, our dollars are going to support the people behind these companies—the individuals who are making constant strides for a cruelty-free world.

“Cruelty-free” and “vegan” have come to be seen as synonymous, but we wanted to dig a little deeper into what cruelty-free really means. A search for vegan apparel will turn up a whole lot, but much of it will likely have been made in sweatshops; same goes for eco-friendly clothing, and even social justice message-Tees—crazy, huh. (I’ve actually seen “No Sweatshops” printed on a Hanes T-shirt made on a Caribbean island.) Union-made clothes are often not eco-friendly, and their manufacture pollutes the environment and its inhabitants… and so on. But there’s a whole bunch of companies out there trying to make these vital connections, and that’s what counts most—the vision and the effort. You’ve got to start somewhere, right? All kinds of people are working to affect all kinds of positive change, and to spread a message of a cruelty-free world. Included in this issue are the top companies we came across. But this is only a sampler—there are many more out there. Try your own search, it’s invigorating! (And let us know what you come up with!)

Left: Catherine is wearing the 'Praise Seitan' T-shirt from Herbivore Clothing Co.
Middle: Georgia Weaver models pajamas from Sage Creek Naturals
Right: Rachel is wearing the 'Against Animal Testing' T-Shirt from Animal Rights Stuff, and holding a bag from Tree Tap.


All contents are copyrighted. Click here to learn about reprinting text or images that appear on this site.