The humble t-shirt is as ubiquitous and adaptable as jeans have become but where did they originate? As is often the case with fashion, we have the World Wars to thank for the introduction of this iconic garment into mainstream fashion. Some claim that the shirt was originally worn by U.S Navy sailors but either way, they have a definite military background.
During WWI, U.S soldiers noticed how their Europeans counterparts had comfortable looking cotton shirts on which they thought must have been a great deal easier to wear the wool uniforms they were wearing. Originally they were simply worn as undershirts, almost like a vest, and weren’t considered to be fashionable at all. A college football team just used them as sweat absorbers. It would have been considered quite shocking to see anyone wearing a t-shirt on its own though as they were still considered very much an undergarment.
People slowly began to accept the t-shirt after WWI and they were even given out to supporters during presidential campaigns, which they still are. The t-shirt really took off though when they started appearing on Hollywood heroes, like Marlon Brando and James Dean. These pop culture stars were the ones who made the t-shirt cool and a symbol of rebellion. Suddenly, everyone wanted to look like these guys. Marlon Brando debuted the t-shirt in the 1951 film ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and by the end of that year, t-shirt sales had reached $180 million. James Dean followed up on this with ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ in 1955. For Mens Farah Shirts, visit http://ejmenswear.com/brands/farah.
It wasn’t long before people began experimenting with the humble t-shirt and putting patterns, logos, images and designs on the front of them. Tourist and cartoon designs became popular merchandise in gift shops. Rock bands worn them, as did celebrities and the t-shirt craze was born. Tie-dyed shirts appeared in the 1960’s and later, message shirts began to appear in 1980’s UK. These days, t-shirts can even come complete with LED lighting with which you can display your Facebook status, tweets and even Instagram photos. I wonder what might be next for the t-shirt.
It is one of the most worn garments on the planet due to its comfort and versatility and thousands are made everyday. In a hundred years time will we be saying that the t-shirt is the best piece of clothing of all time? Indeed, the plain white tee is often cited as one of the must have items in every man and woman’s wardrobe.
The other awesome thing about the t-shirt is that when it finally reaches the end of its long life, you can use it for a multitude of other things as well. Rip it into shreds and use it to clean with, knit with it, make a DIY mop head with it or a cold beanbag face mask. Old t-shirts make great padding for packing boxes, fabric flower designs or even handkerchiefs. The humble t-shirt is the true all-rounder.