Ryan Gosling is a master of in-on-the-joke T‑shirts

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From that Ncuti Gatwa tee to his heart-on-his-sleeve bromance with Macaulay Culkin, our new Ken has always known how to send a message with a novelty T-shirt.

The Pedro Pascals and Timothée Chalamets of the fancam era are mere fledglings compared to the relentless thirst over Ryan Gosling. He’s been a dreamboat since the Tumblr days, the whole meal and a true spit and sit on me heartthrob. No matter who questions it, the sparkly-eyed actor has channelled Kenergy ever since his Mickey Mouse Club debut in the 90s. There’s simply no better actor to star opposite Margot Robbie in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming live-action Barbie film.

Over the decades (and yes, it’s been decades), we’ve celebrated Gosling’s abs and arms, his array of slick suits and his oft-blotchy hair through buzzcuts, faux mohawks and dodgy dye jobs. But to stand the test of time, pin-ups need personality – and Gosling knows how to wear his heart on his sleeve. In fact, his most underrated allure comes from his borderline cringe, millennial slogan tees.

Take the actor’s look at last week’s CinemaCon, for instance. The latest in a parade of viral crewnecks, Gosling wore a pink denim bomber jacket over a white T‑shirt that read Greta Gerwig” in the same squiggly, hot pink Barbie font that appears in the teaser trailer for the movie. In true Gosling-is-gospel fashion, the silly little tee took over the internet and left fans scrambling to get their hands on one, only with Ryan Gosling” sprawled across its chest instead.

When we think of celebs and iconic/​ironic t‑shirts, Britney Spears’ dump him” baby tee or even Hailey Bieber’s nepo baby” crop are the first looks that come to mind. But this was hardly the first time that the crazy, stupid, lovely actor made a fashion statement with his crewnecks. Somehow, Gosling speaks the language of *insert cheeky phrase* tees better than the pop girlies. No wonder the Barbie promotions team, already on overdrive, is milking his signature off-duty style to draw in even more eyeballs.

Only last year, our Ken-to-be arrived on set wearing a tee with Ncuti Gatwa’s beautiful face on his rather chiselled heart. The actor’s face was framed by an intergalactic sky and sealed with the Doctor Who logo, a nod to Gatwa’s new gig as the 15th doctor. This adorable fangirl moment was far from random – Gatwa also plays Ken in Gerwig’s upcoming film, and as expected, Gosling’s wardrobe choice was widely stanned online.

But Gosling’s viral tees aren’t reserved for the new internet age. Remember the inception bromance between Macaulay Culkin and Gosling in 2014, all expressed through scrappily printed graphic tees? It started when The Notebook actor was papped in a T‑shirt with a black and white photo of child star Culkin, who then returned the compliment by wearing a tee that had a picture of Gosling wearing the original T‑shirt on it. This meta exchange did a couple more rounds, until the photo on the T‑shirt got too blurry to recognise or ridicule. The whole thing was squirmy in a cute Gosling is so hot he’ll get away with it” way.

And way back in 2005, the actor also became an activist when he wore a Darfur” tee twice in the same year. Gosling picked a white T‑shirt splattered with the name of the conflicted Sudanese region for the Teen Choice Awards and MTV Movie Awards, where he won the trophy for Best Kiss with his Notebook co-star Rachel McAdams. The unbridled audacity to wear an awareness tee on stage while making out with your co-star and still pulling it off is what makes Gosling’s star so bright and infallible.

So the next time our brazen Ken holds a lip service jacket wide open to show off a slogan, make note of its legacy. Gosling’s been in on the gag for decades.

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