The History of the Tshirt


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The History of the Tshirt

  1. 1. The History of the T-Shirt
  2. 2. the history of the tee? How did the t-shirt get its start in the beginning of the twentiethcentury? How did the t-shirt become an American favorite? Were now into the twenty-firstcentury, and the t-shirt remains as popular as ever.T-shirts of yesteryear were nothing like the t-shirts you know today. It was common knowledge thatthe first t-shirts, as you will learn, were clearly considered something to be worn underneathclothing. Certainly, the t-shirts of old were not part of a stand-alone industry, nor were they amode of advertising.
  3. 3. Believe it or not, before the20th century, there was noconsensus that underwearshould be included as anessential part of oneswardrobe. Most late 19thcentury folks wore somethinglike an extended shirt calledthe "Spiral Bustle." Then in1901 the predecessor toHanesintroduced for sale throughcatalog mens underwear, atwo-piece set.The birth of the t-shirt appears tobe accredited to the navy (and lots of sailors). No one seems to know for certain when the first t-shirt was made. As early as 1913 the U.S. Navy adopted a revolutionary new garment, a short-sleeved, crew-necked, white cotton undershirt. This garment was to be worn underneath a jumper.And what was the purpose of this undershirt? One must avoid scandalous sights, otherwise knownas sailors chest hairs. The standard issue shirt had somewhat of the silhouette of a "T", thus thename "t-shirt" was born.It is also notable that during WWI while European soldiers were wearing cooler, comfy,lightweight, cotton undershirts in the humid, hot summer days, that American troops took notice.These duds were nothing like the American wool uniforms soldiers wore.Merriam-Websters Dictionary listed "T-Shirt" as an official word in the American Englishlanguage by the 1920s. Around the late 1930s that companies including Fruit of the Loom,Hanes and Sears & Roebuck began the marketing of the t-shirt.
  4. 4. of W.W. II, the Army and 12 million Navy sailors had t-seasy rider,hirts as standard issueunderwear. "Skivvies", these new, inexpensive undergarments became known as. America saw,
  5. 5. began to get comfortable with, andreveled secretly, daily news images oftheir wartime sons,wearing t-shirts (dressed barely, butwith pants of course). Underwear wasbeing worn asouterwear. Rules were flaunted aboutundergarments. Taboos were violatedwith this show ofmale sexuality.Still, by and large, the t-shirt was an undergarmentmeant not to be seen. In 1934, however,Clark Gable shocked everyone, as hestripped off his dress shirt in the movie "It Happened One Night," to reveal no t-shirt at all. Womenswooned, and men as well. Still, the t-shirt kept itself under wraps, to be worn primarily underneatha work or proper dress shirt.The idea continued to quickly catch on, and due to simple design, a few years later, with theleave of many sailors during the war, the popular civilian "union suit" was reduced to a "singlet" or"jersey." In 1938, Sears introduced a t-shirt they called a "gob" shirt (named after sailors). A "gob"shirt cost 24 cents. The t-Shirt would become an empty canvas, which was allowing men topresent themselves in an erotic sense and show their gender.The t-shirt was becoming appropriate to wear as an undergarment or as an outer one. TheMarines standard issue white t-shirt was replaced with sage green for camouflage purposes. In1944, the Army surveyed enlisted men as to preference of sleeves or sleeveless. Most preferredsleeves, due to better appearance, absorption under arms, among other reasons.The t-shirt would never be the same. Along with worldwide upheaval, WWII brought along aswell the first printed t-shirts. On display at The Smithsonian Institute is the oldest printed shirt onrecord. This t-shirt is from Governor of New York Thomas E. Deweys 1948 presidentialcampaign and sports "Dew-It with Dewey".
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  7. 7. After the end of WWII, the t-shirt became the garment able to clearly display and advertise it all:cultural affiliation, class, and sexual orientation. 180 million t-shirts were sold in 1951. The rise ofthe t-Shirt can be traced back to the movies, and of course those big-screen movie stars: MarlonBrando, John Wayne, James Dean, and a young Elvis Presley who did their part tomake the t-shirt, outerwear appropriate, or sexy to say the least.1951s "A Streetcar Named Desire" featured Marlon Brandos portrayal of Stanley Kowalski,lovelorn, brutish, and primitive, riveting viewers as his buff pectorals and abs revealedthemselves as unveiled by a stretched, paper-thin t-shirt. Some felt the picture created was one ofa dangerous, incoherent kind of manhood, a sexualized brutality.1955s "Rebel Without a Cause" showed James Dean wearing a t-shirt without another shirtovertop. He made the t-shirt cool, a contemporary symbol of rebellious youth. Still, t-shirts weremeant primarily for men.In 1959, Plastisol, a stretchable ink was invented, starting a revolution in t-shirt design. After thatcame the iron-on transfer, and finally litho transfer. Thus was the birth of the t-shirt industry.Now marketing geniuses, like Walt Disney, "flocked" letters and simple designs onto t-shirts to besold as souvenirs to both men and women.Still the advertising evolution of the t-shirt would be slow. The military was first to stencilcompany and rank on their t-shirts. Also, Ivy League Universities made clear advertisement offraternities on their tees. Budweiser was the first to do actual "corporate-advertising" in the late1060s, when they sported a Bud can on their company tees.During the 60s, the hippies abandoned traditional dress for tie-dye. Of course, the t-shirtbecame one of the cheapest and easiest garments to purchase and dye. Folks began tie-dyingand screen-printing basic cotton tees, helping it to even bigger commercial success. In 1969, t-shirt wearing hippies took on the Establishment in Easy Rider. Also, advances in printing anddying allowed more variety and the introduction of muscle shirts, scoop necks, v-necks andtanks into modern fashion.Throughout the late 60s and 70s, the American Tee was in full bloom. Rock and Roll bandsbegan to realize that they could make significant amounts of money selling their t-shirts.Professional Sports caught on and soon the officially licensed t-shirt became hot merchandise.1977s "The Deep", helped to form the sexual revolution of the 1970s by means of JacquelineBissets wet tee.What about the t-shirt in the 80s and 90s? Remember Don Johnsons designer-tee andArmani suit combo ala Miami Vice? And what about the most memorable recent tee-film from1996 "Mission: Impossible", just a bit of Tom Cruise, clad in tee, doing some serious hangingfrom a wire. The 80s and 90s both saw amazing production of t-shirts with improved mechanics ofprinting them in increased volume for increased availability. The American t-shirt has now becomeknown as a commodity item. More than one billion t-shirts were sold in 1995.And now, with the advent of the internet, the t-shirt continues to become even bigger. Tee artsymbolizes the cultural and social climates of our generation. Tees tell the story perfectly, andnow more than ever, the t-shirt is becoming an even more individualistic mode of personalexpression. Example below!
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