London-based designer Ashish releases a cheeky collection of almost-pornographic t-shirts with new line ‘T’aint by Ashish’.
First and foremost, Ashish starts conversations. His kaleidoscopic collections reliably feature psychedelic colour, bold slogans and a wagonload or two of sequins; he combines virtuosic attention to detail with a healthy dose of irreverence. A quote posted on the designer’s Instagram seems to encapsulate his attitude to prescriptive catwalk solemnity: “I glitterally don’t give a fuck”.
‘T’aint by Ashish’, the latest venture from the label, comprises a range of t-shirts printed with provocatively incomplete dot-to-dot images; the shirts portray a sexually diverse range of pornographic scenes which stop just shy of explicit thanks to tactically placed embroidery. They’re crying out to be worn on the Tube whilst staring an discomfited city worker in the eye – which is to say, the Wonderland office is forming a not-so-orderly queue.
“I wanted to combine my two favourite things, sex and fashion,” Ashish says of the range, which will be available exclusively from V Files in New York from the end of April. He adds, “My team and I spend most of our time in the studio talking about sex; ‘T’aint by Ashish’ is the end result.” Want to hear Ashish’s take on diversity, censorship and the future of T’aint? Take a gander at our interview below!Sex and fashion are your two fave things — what if we made you choose?
You must have been swimming in potential names — how did you settle on T’aint?
I was thinking about how I wanted it to almost feel like a bootleg brand, as in ‘It ain’t by Ashish’, which then became ‘T’aint by Ashish’. ‘Taint’ as it happens is also slang in the USA for the very sensitive area between the balls and arsehole, or the pussy and arsehole. The joke being, ‘coz it ain’t balls and it ain’t arsehole’. Plus, there is the definition of the word ‘taint’ as something corrupt, offensive, harmful, or spoiled, which of course is interesting if you look at it in the context of how a lot of people view sex and pornography. So T’aint felt perfect on every level.
You’ve always been fantastically reluctant to take fashion too seriously. Is that a mindset T’aint aims to extend to sex?
I’d say it takes a lot of serious to appear unserious. But yes, I think sex should be fun and pleasurable and guilt-free, and that’s a very important part of me so I think that will definitely influence T’aint.Do you think there’s a natural interplay between fashion and sex?
Of course, because most of us dress for others. People dress to be undressed; clothes are worn to be taken off.
Was diversity central to your conception of T’aint?
Yes, absolutely. I find it appalling, for example, when you go on Grindr and see people openly say things like, “no blacks, no fatties”. I want T’aint to be a celebration, and everyone is invited.
Do you think sex and or pornography needs to be de-stigmatised?
Yes. We live in a world where 82 countries have criminal laws against LGBTI sex, or are openly anti-gay. In the UK there is legislation that bans female ejaculation and water sports from being depicted in British porn. Depictions of face-sitting are also banned because the act is considered ‘life threatening’. Who comes up with this type of ridiculous moral policing? Who decides what type of sex people should be having or watching?
We love that the images stop just shy of being explicit, and the dot-to-dot motif makes it very stark that it’s the viewer completing the image in their own mind. Was that a deliberate attempt to make people confront/embrace how much they all think about sex?
Partly it was a tongue-in-cheek play on censorship, but mainly I liked the idea of making the viewer use their imagination and mentally connect the dots to work out what was going on in the images. The brain is the largest sexual organ.
What’s your vision for T’aint’s future?
I’m not sure yet, but I hope it will become a platform for art and fashion that opens up a dialogue about sex, porn, LGBT rights, and censorship.
Words: Emily Dixon