Gap and GenderCool Celebrate the Pocket Tee With Zolita and Mykki Blanco

Gap and GenderCool Celebrate the Pocket Tee With Zolita and Mykki Blanco

Story by Sam Falb / Photography by Guicho Palma / Styling by Hunter Clem / Makeup by Jaime Diaz / Hair by Kherrington Gross
Jun 17, 2024

The early days of summer hold much promise, from the kiss of warm air after a long winter to the stylistic opportunity that a lighter, freer wardrobe represents. Over the horizon the beaming sun looms, bringing with it a spray of golden flowers, lazy picnics, humid nights in the grass and, of course, timeless essentials like Gap’s Pocket Tee.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, PAPER has joined forces with Gap to showcase the tee's enduring appeal (with 250 colors to date) and launch a Pride campaign with a roster of queer talent sharing how fashion is a vehicle for their self-expression.

Launched in 1984 (just like PAPER!) in 12 colors, the tee has been styled many ways in modern history, from being sported by Marty McFly in Back to the Future to being worn by fashion icon Naomi Campbell to intermixing with the normcore wave of the mid-2010s. Today, the tee has crystallized into an iconic essential and is a canvas for creativity, all in 100% organically grown cotton.

PAPER gathered creative powerhouses Zolita and Mykki Blanco, alongside GenderCool Project champion Alex, to discuss what modern iconism and style mean to each of them, while highlighting the tee’s continued relevance, adaptability, and ability to produce endless outfit options.

Clothing: Gap (Organic Cotton Pocket T-Shirt, denim fabricated by Conrad Muscarella)

Zolita, the narrative-driven songstress known for her witchy worldbuilding, brings her unique flair and visionary thinking to a tee grounded in creative possibility. She speaks to her strategy of implementing clothing into music that expresses empowerment, dance-forward energy, and celebration of the community she’s built.

“Zolita is an alter-ego for me – I use fashion as a costume to express that transformative change between Zoe and Zolita,” she tells PAPER, continuing with her approach to creativity and authenticity. “If you’re doing something a little different from what everyone else is doing in the current moment, that’s iconic.”

Clothing: Gap (Organic Cotton Pocket T-Shirt, denim fabricated by Conrad Muscarella)

Mykki Blanco, an artist and hip-hop pioneer, has always used clothes to lift themself up and communicate their queer identity. Their bold storytelling and fearless authenticity embody the spirit of the pocket tee: classic yet constantly evolving. Using fashion as a vehicle has also helped them develop powerful confidence while combating political and cultural taboos.

“I’ve been so experimental with my style during my whole career trajectory... I’ve pulled a lot of rabbits out of the hat,” Blanco says with a laugh. For them, self-expression is about having ongoing faith in your uniquely powerful being. “Personal style has been this way of letting people know that they couldn’t put me in a box.”

Joining them is youth ambassador Alex from The GenderCool Project, an organization dedicated to elevating positive stories about transgender and non-binary youth. In kindred fashion, this collaboration emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and representation, celebrating the pocket tee as a symbol of individuality and inspiration.

To Alex, self-assurance is centered around being yourself with no doubt or apology. His style is a key communicator of this identity.

“I use clothes to express myself, by dressing how I feel. They’re a little loose and flowy, and I add details like necklaces and earrings to show a little more personality,” Alex says.

Together, Zolita, Mykki Blanco and Alex highlight the pocket tee's significance across different eras and communities. Their collective energy and distinct perspectives bring a characteristic and inspiring take on this beloved garment, honoring its past while looking forward to its future. Through their stories, the pocket tee is celebrated not just as a canvas for self-expression, but as a symbol of enduring cultural relevance.

This article is a sponsored collaboration between GAP and PAPER.

Photography: Guicho Palma
Styling: Hunter Clem
Makeup: Jaime Diaz
Hair: Kherrington Gross

Photo assistants: Monica Zulema, Abe Arzate
Digitech: James Armas
Styling assistant: Genesis Webb
Denim fabrication: Conrad Muscarella
Makeup assistant: Luna Vela
Hair assistant: Bryan Ramirez
Production assistant: Kelly Cole

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Managing editor: Matt Wille
Production: Sammy Case
Story: Sam Falb
Publisher: Brian Calle