Unterlibli goes high fashion: Why a banal basic now sets the tone
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Unterlibli goes high fashion: Why a banal basic now sets the tone

Stephanie Vinzens
Zurich, on 07.04.2022

The white tank top has been an essential basic for decades. Now, the simple garment no longer serves only as an undershirt, but thanks to some celebrity catwalk appearances, is moulting into a fashion statement.

The white tank top left its macho image behind in the last century and has been an equally indispensable and inconspicuous supporting actor in our wardrobe for several decades. Sometimes as the bottom layer of the onion look, sometimes as a sweat-absorber in the gym or as a shirt substitute when the button and collar look a bit severe under the suit. His prominent appearance in the iconic music video for Beyoncé's 2003 megahit "Crazy In Love" should have helped him break through - but Queen B's dance moves stole the show. Almost 20 years later, the low-key classic is finally allowed to play main character. Thanks to Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons.

The first look of a runway show is known to be the most significant, as it sets the tone for the entire collection. So when the Prada design duo sent top model Kaia Gerber down the runway in a midi skirt and nothing but a white slip on top to kick off their fall/winter collection this year, and finished the show with "Euphoria" star Hunter Schafer in the same top, it was clear: the Italian fashion house was declaring the basic the must-have of the season - or at least the gentrified version of it with Prada's triangolo logo at the neckline.

Cindy Crawfords Tochter Kaia eröffnet den Catwalk.
Cindy Crawfords Tochter Kaia eröffnet den Catwalk.
Keystone

All eyes on Bottega - and the tank top

The white tank top's It status was cemented just a few days later on the catwalk at Bottega Veneta - arguably the most anticipated show of the season. Under the critical eye of the fashion guard, Creative Director Matthieu Blazy stepped into the gigantic shoes of his predecessor Daniel Lee for the first time. So how would the designer counter this expectation? By opening his show with what was supposed to be the simplest of ensembles: a white tank top and jeans. And an ingenious deception. Because amazingly, the look was not made of cotton, but of nubuck leather.

Ja, das ist wirklich alles aus Leder.
Ja, das ist wirklich alles aus Leder.
Keystone

But the French fashion house Chloé showed shortly thereafter that the tank top has a raison d'être as a statement piece even without a stroke of genius or an obvious brand stamp. Creative director Gabriela Hearst made it clear that the perfect look requires nothing more than a well-fitting pair of pants and a sheer tank top. Both of which most of us probably already have in our closets.

Inclusivity instead of exclusivity

It may seem grotesque for the luxury industry to put such a simple garment on the pedestal. At the same time, it's refreshing to see an it piece shine because of its inclusivity instead of exclusivity. The rise of the undershirt illustrates that fashion is not necessarily at its most expressive when it is loud, but when it captures the zeitgeist.

In the face of the current sensory overload, consumerism and pandemic-induced uncertainty as well as comfort, the white tank top exudes an attractive permanence and calm. This seems almost rebellious in the midst of the fashion circus and also gives the wearer a charming nonchalance.

Musiker Conan Gray liebt ein gutes Tanktop.
Musiker Conan Gray liebt ein gutes Tanktop.
Instagram: @conangray
Auch ein Unterlibli-Fan: Influencerin Felicia Akerstrom.
Auch ein Unterlibli-Fan: Influencerin Felicia Akerstrom.
Instagram: @fakerstrom

Still searching for the perfect white tank? I've already clicked through the range for you - these are my favorites.

No frills at all:

With logo:

From the men's department:

JJEBASIC TANK TOP NOOS
Jack & Jones JJEBASIC TANK TOP NOOS
Auftaktbild: KoolShooters via Pexels

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Has endless love for shoulder pads, Stratocasters and sashimi, but a limited tolerance for bad impressions of her Eastern Swiss dialect.


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