'The Quiet Type.' Aussie Copywriter Makes T-Shirts for Introverts
Introverts have been having a moment since the advent of the Covid pandemic almost three years ago, as working virutally in some ways leveled the playing field between introverts and extroverts—giving the former more alone time to be productive, while muting certain aspects of the latter's well-documented in-person powers.
But of course, the dichotomy remains—some people are just naturally quieter than others, in a business that often values the loudest voice in the room.
Ellie Dunn, senior creative at Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne, Australia, and a lifelong introvert, feels there is still some negativity around the perception of introverts. And so, she has developed a mildly empowering solution—a line of T-shirts for introverts called The Quiet Type.
Simply designed with fun yet unassuming slogans in small-ish type, the shirts embody the introvert vibe—"from the gentle color palette, to the soft tee material, to the small slogan font that wants to be seen, but doesn't want to shout," according to press materials. The goal is to help introverts accept—even celebrate—themselves and their quieter way of engaging, which Dunn says has incredible value in a ceaselessly noisy world.
"For introverts, the world of advertising can be an overwhelming place at times. Group brainstorms, open-plan offices, big presentations, endless social events—you name it," she says. "But it's also an industry where being a good listener can lead to the most powerful ideas, which makes it weirdly perfect for introverts too."
The project is timed to World Introvert Day on Jan. 2. The shirts are currently available for preorder through Dec. 9. We spoke to Ellie a little more about the project and how it came to be.
Muse: Have you always been an introvert, for as long as you can remember?
Ellie Dunn: I think so, yes. My earliest memories are being blissfully happy playing alone. Just me, my imagination, and making worlds out of whatever random things I could find in my house and garden.
How has it been generally, working in advertising as an introvert? Have there been advantages and disadvantages?
Over the years, there's been plenty of times where I've been encouraged to speak up more and come out of my shell. And people always meant well when they'd say those things. But it sometimes felt like I was being asked to change my eye-color. I'm just a naturally quiet person.
That being said, I've never had a problem doing big client presentations or public speaking. It's good to get out of your comfort zone. But as introvert expert and author Susan Cain would say, "It's just not healthy to act out of your true character most or all of the time."
As far as introvert advantages go, I would say that being a good listener and keen observer have led me to some great ideas and pieces of work.
For agencies, it's so important to have a mix of personalities. And I absolutely love extroverts and the energy they bring. I'm very lucky because I have my own office at Clemenger BBDO. It's like my little introvert oasis.
Where did the idea for doing a fashion line come from?
Well, the idea started out very differently. I initially wanted to do a project called "Loud Shirts for Introverts." I had the term "quiet type" in the insight I'd written for it, and realized, oh hang on, that should be the idea. Everything from the slogans to the art direction then became about celebrating all things quiet and subtle.
What was your writing process and do you have any favorite lines? 'The Quiet Type' has a nice double meaning.
Well, thank you! The writing process took quite a while, as I wanted to cover as many themes as possible. In the end, I ended up asking some trusted introverts—and extroverts—to narrow the lines down. "Born to be Mild" almost didn't make the cut. But it's turned out to be the line people are digging most.
Was it challenging logistically to set up the project?
There were certainly some stressful moments, for sure. Shout-out to my Post-it notes and ever-evolving Google doc. As a copywriter, it was really great to take on a visual role—from choosing the T-shirt style, to font exploration; color palettes; photography references, choosing models and building a website, just to name a few. Having amazing collaborators in photographer Tracey Lee Hayes and designer Zoë Marron Davies also really helped.
Do you see any playful irony in introverts wearing T-shirts to proclaim their introvertedness?
Oh, for sure. That's why the font is small and subtle. But also, I want introverts to be proud to put those messages out there. The world doesn't value quiet types enough.
What do you hope introverts will get from embracing this brand?
I hope they feel seen. I hope they get a little smile. And I hope they remember they bring a unique perspective to the world.
And for extroverts, I'd encourage them to be more aware of the value of introverts. To allow space in meetings for their quiet, yet important voices.
Photography: Tracey Lee Hayes
Design: Zoë Marron Davies
Copywriting: Ellie Dunn