Behind Every Big 'Challengers' Moment Is This $330 Loewe Tee

The shirt, worn by Zendaya and Josh O'Connor in the film, has become a pop culture phenomenon.

zendaya wears i told ya t-shirt from challengers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This story includes spoilers for Challengers.

Shortly after Zendaya’s tennis prodigy character Tashi Duncan meets Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) and Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) in Challengers, she tells the doubles partners known as “Fire and Ice” that they “don’t know what tennis is.” She jeers at Patrick's signature serve, saying a tennis game is not about self-expression: "It’s a relationship.”

Luca Guadagnino's sports drama Challengers (which arrived in theaters on April 26) may largely be set on the tennis court, but it's much less about who's first to score 40 than it is about the players' desires and behavioral patterns. Much of the film, written by Justin Kuritzkes, centers on a 2019 challengers tournament in New Rochelle, New York where former friends Art and Patrick face off in the finals—13 years after they met Tashi and multiple trysts have ensued between them. Now Art's coach, Tashi, watches the match from the stands, and as she watches each serve address unresolved tension within their relationships, you can just about imagine what she’d like to say to them: “I told you so.”

While the words are never uttered in the film, the succinct, boastful phrase “I TOLD YA” does make an appearance on a T-shirt. Tashi first wears the gray, oversized tee in the film's 2006 timeline, and moments later, it’s revealed that it belongs to Patrick. Throughout the rest of the film, he wears the shirt, which was designed by the movie’s costume designer and Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson.

zendaya wears i told ya t-shirt in challengers

Zendaya wears a Loewe "I TOLD YA" T-shirt while promoting Challengers in New York.

(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

The T-shirt and its brazen message have become somewhat of a phenomenon. Before Challengers’ theatrical release, Zendaya and O’Connor repped versions of the “I TOLD YA” tee at promotional events. Now, Loewe is selling an exact replica, retailing at $330.

The snarky shirt is a standout, original piece in Challengers' wardrobe that largely features athletic uniforms adorned with sponsorships from Adidas, Nike, and Uniqlo, meant to signify a character's success. But it also mirrors the film’s exploration of shifting power dynamics within relationships.

Tashi is first seen in the tee while she and Art are both student athletes at Stanford, and Patrick, who has been dating Tashi long distance, is away on a Pro Tour. Before Patrick comes to visit campus, Tashi and Art have lunch together and Art slyly tries to drive a wedge between the girl he’s been pining for and his friend. He claims Patrick doesn’t love Tashi, and she storms off in a rage.

mike faist as art donaldson and zendaya as taschi duncan in challengers

Mike Faist as Art Donaldson and Zendaya as Tashi Duncan in Challengers.

(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

Moments later, Patrick picks up the shirt after his and Tashi’s dorm room hookup becomes an argument, in which he says she wants "a member of the fan club" instead of a boyfriend. Their fight proves to be a breakup when Patrick doesn’t go to Tashi’s game, which is where she ends up sustaining a career-terminating knee injury. Only Art is there to console Tashi, and when Patrick finally comes to visit her and sees his friend at her side, “I TOLD YA,” is plastered across his chest.

Years later, Patrick wears it again when meeting up with Tashi at a tournament in Atlanta. At that point, Tashi and Art are married and Patrick seems to see their marriage as no more than her means to remain with her true love: tennis. As the two have a one-night stand, the shirt, once again, says it all.

patrick and tashi challengers one night stand

Josh O'Connor as Patrick Zweig and Zendaya as Tashi Duncan in Challengers.

(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

Loewe's Jonathan Anderson has spoken to the T-shirt’s significance. In an interview with WWD, the costume designer shared that he took inspiration from John F. Kenndy Jr. for Patrick’s style, citing his “effortlessness” and inherent “sex appeal.” In fact, the late attorney actually had a “I TOLD YA” tee himself and was photographed in it—the phrase then a nod to his father JFK’s “I Told You So” inaugural button.

In Challengers, the shirt seems to make its way out of the closet whenever there’s a shift in the characters’ dynamic and one finds themselves with the upper hand. It’s cyclical, like many other elements in the movie—from the ball passing over the net to how Art spits out his gum to the way the two men are frequently framed opposite Tashi. Its “I TOLD YA” phrasing, too, feels indicative of the way the three seem to know each others’ tics, moves, and desires on and off the court.

art patrick new rochelle match challengers

Josh O'Connor as Patrick Zweig and Mike Faist as Art Donaldson in Challengers.

(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

Towards the end of the film, the know-it-all sentiment circles back to Tashi’s early claim about tennis being a relationship, and how she told Art and Patrick when she first met them that whoever won their match could get her number—because she “wants to see some good f--king tennis.”

At New Rochelle in 2019, she finally gets her wish. The game should be a low-stakes one—Tashi signed Art up to play to boost his confidence, and Patrick enrolled in to bolster his ranking—but it ultimately becomes a high-stakes confrontation, with 13 years' worth of lust, heartbreak, and betrayal fueling each serve.

In the match and film’s final moments, Tashi even erupts out a guttural scream. It’s not unlike the sound she let out in her own 2006 U.S. Open game, which she described at the time as feeling like she and her opponent “were in love.” It may be left ambiguous where the three go once the match is called, but Tashi certainly saw in Art and Patrick what they needed, and deserves a trophy for her “I TOLD YA” bragging rights.

Sadie Bell
Senior Culture Editor

Sadie Bell is the Senior Culture Editor at Marie Claire, where she edits, writes, and helps to ideate stories across movies, TV, books, and music, from interviews with talent to pop culture features and trend stories. She has a passion for uplifting rising stars, and a special interest in cult-classic movies, emerging arts scenes, and music. She has over eight years of experience covering pop culture and her byline has appeared in Billboard, Interview Magazine, NYLON, PEOPLE, Rolling Stone, Thrillist and other outlets.