Zendaya wearing a shirt that says 'I told ya'

The ‘Challengers’ ‘I Told Ya’ Shirt Has a History

The shirt heard round the world is Tashi Duncan’s “I told ya” shirt as featured in Challengers. As with many things in our lives, we see Zendaya wear something then instantly need it for ourselves. But the shirt has a deeper lore than that of Tashi and her boys.

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The shirt has taken over the internet, many documenting its power in the movie, but the shirt itself is also a reference to America’s royal family: The Kennedys. John F. Kennedy Jr. wore the shirt in the ’90s, and many have pointed out that it is the same one. Now, Challengers costume designer Jonathan Anderson is talking about his inspiration for the look.

In an interview with WWD, Anderson explained how he wanted Patrick (Josh O’Connor) to have the kind of effortless approach to fashion that JFK Jr. did in the past. “When JFK Jr. was younger, in the ’80s and ’90s, there was kind of an effortlessness to his wardrobe—like he could wear anything, and sex appeal would always be there,” said Anderson. “I felt like [Zweig] should not care how he looks because, ultimately, he is not endorsed, he is not the biggest star in tennis, so his look becomes a bit ad-hoc and stuck together. But when you look at the base parts of his attire, he has very aged, expensive things, including an old wallet that’s still very expensive, though it’s falling apart.”

In another interview with British Vogue, Anderson also talked about the shirt making multiple appearances. “I wanted this t-shirt to kind of reappear twice,” said Anderson. “And as simple as it is it was nice to kind of like to have this little thing that was like my own little thing on top of the character.”

JFK Jr. wore it as a reference to his father’s campaign. Tashi wore it to stand her ground.

Zendaya and Mike Faist sitting at a table eating in Challengers

The common theory about why JFK Jr. wore that shirt was callback to his father’s campaign buttons that said “I Told You So.” But if you look at Tashi as a character, it makes sense that she would use this shirt to her advantage (and that Patrick would use it right back at her).

Art (Mike Faist) is someone who ends up caught in the crosshairs, even if he did try to break up Tashi and Patrick at Stanford. But it is Tashi who said at the start that she was calling the shots, and she continued to do that. Even when Patrick wore it in Atlanta all those years later, it still showed that Tashi had a power over him (and her fiancé Art). And in the end, Tashi very much could have said, “I told you so,” and she would have been right.

Now, if you’re wanting the “I told ya” collection all for yourself, you can purchase it from Loewe. You just have to get ready to drop $330 for a relax fit tee and $690 for the sweatshirt version. Maybe we can just all look fondly on Tashi/Patrick’s shirt and the one JFK Jr. wore and pray for that price to drop.

(featured image: Amazon MGM Studios)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.