Leftfield indie flick of the year, Sorry To Bother You, *still* doesn’t have a UK release date, despite buzzing opening weeks in America, comparisons to 2017 smash hit Get Out, and a 94% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The upside to this painful waiting game is that we have a head start in appreciating the uncompromising style of Tessa Thompson’s character, Detroit, and can get even more excited to see her in action.
In Boots Riley’s magic-realist office drama – which also functions as a satire about race in America that has already sparked debate about the concept of 'white voice' – Detroit is a performance artist trying to figure out how to embed her activism into her work. Her look is an expression of that tussle, with hair that is miraculously both grey and rainbow-coloured, and bright flashes of makeup already picked up by fans on social media. It was inevitable that attention would soon turn to every aspect of her appearance.
After watching the film (in the US), one fan tweeted: "I really hope @TessaThompson_x got to keep her wardrobe from #SorryToBotherYou, each shirt was better than the last!" Tessa retweeted the question and answered that she had, in fact, bought all the shirts herself – from her "favourite store", the lesbian-run Otherwild – and so she will indeed be keeping every last one.
You may already be familiar with Otherwild. The LA store was the first to make "The Future Is Female" slogan tees and sweatshirts, in collaboration with the originator Liza Cowan and Instagram account @H_e_r_s_t_o_r_y, which had posted Liza’s picture. (This was long before Cara Delevingne made her own, unauthorised version). Since then, Otherwild has expanded its range of feminist, inclusive T-shirts, with rad slogans that include: "The Future Is Female Ejaculation", "The Patriarchy Is A Pyramid Scheme", "Gender Is A Drag", "SISTERESISTER", "Gay Power" and "DYKE", as well as illustrations including the Nip Tee (with two breasts rubbing nipples), and the Venus Tit Tee (two female sex symbols, ♀).
And while Detroit appears to be in a relationship with Lakeith Stanfield’s character Cassius (a man) in the film trailer, her choice of lesbian sex-celebrating T-shirts has, of course, been interpreted with reference to her relationship with Janelle Monáe, of which Tessa has said they "love each other deeply".
After catching the film themselves, the team at Otherwild posted images of Tessa wearing their shirts (as Detroit) on Instagram, with the elated caption, "What a thrill to see @sorry2botheryou yesterday! @tessamaethompson shines bright... and the film co-stars many of our tees … Go see the movie!" Which we will, the very second it is released for UK audiences.