A Little T-Shirt History

Ever wonder how we started wearing T-Shirts and when they became so popular? Well I did, so here is a little history:

History of the T-Shirt

In the 19th century, the idea of underwear developed, which had not been common before. At some point near the turn of the century, the underwear shirt was developed. The shirt was always a part of clothing since ancient Egypt, though it slowly became more and more popular. There have been many garments that resemble the T-shirt,[1] though the general trend supported the possibility of less clothing, which cultural modesty had forbidden until the 19th century. The origin of the T-Shirt is obscure – claims reach at least from California to Britain, and from 1913 to 1948, and it was most likely a slow development during that time.

T-shirts were originally worn as undershirts. This still occurs, but T-shirts are now also frequently worn as the only piece of clothing on the top half of the body (other than possibly a bra or an undershirt (vest). T-shirts have also become a medium for self-expression and advertising, with any imaginable combination of words, art and even photographs on display.

During World War II the T-shirt had become standard issue underwear in both the U.S. Army and the Navy.

After WWII the T-shirt started appearing without a shirt covering it in civilian life. According to the New York Times, the 1948 presidential campaign of New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey produced a “Dew It for Dewey” T-shirt, which was followed in 1952 by “I Like Ike” T-shirts in support of Dwight D. Eisenhower. John Wayne, Marlon Brando and James Dean all wore them on national TV. At first the public was shocked, but by 1955 it had become acceptable.[6]

T-shirts have also become a medium for self-expression and advertising, with any imaginable combination of words, art and even photographs on display.

In the early 1950s several companies based in Miami, Florida, started to decorate tee shirts with different resort names and various characters. The first company was Tropix Togs, under founder Sam Kantor, in Miami. They were the original licensee for Walt Disney characters that included Mickey Mouse and Davy Crockett. Later other companies expanded into the tee shirt printing business that included Sherry Manufacturing Company also based in Miami. Sherry started in 1948 by its owner and founder Quinton Sandler as a screen print scarf business and evolved into one of the largest screen printed resort and licensed apparel companies in the United States.

In the 1960s, the Ringer T-shirt appeared and became a staple fashion for youth and rock-n-rollers. The decade also saw the emergence of tie-dyeing and screen-printing on the basic T-shirt. In 1959, plastisol, a more durable and stretchable ink, was invented, allowing much more variety in t-shirt designs.[7]

Variants of the T-shirt, such as the tank top, A-shirt (with the nickname “wife beater”), muscle shirt, scoop neck, V-neck etc. eventually came into use.

Since the late 1980s and especially the 1990s, T-shirts with prominent designer-name logos have been popular, especially with teenagers and young adults. These garments allowed consumers to flaunt their taste in designer brands in an inexpensive way, in addition to being decorative.

The political and social statements that T-shirts often display have become, since the 2000s, one of the reasons that they have so deeply permeated different levels of culture and society.[citation needed] The statements also may be found to be offensive, shocking or pornographic to some. Many different organizations have caught on to the statement-making trend, including chain and independent stores, websites, and schools.

extracts from From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1 ^ Mark Dixon, From underwear to outerwear
6 ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/art/howto/tshirts/history.shtml
7 ^ A History of T-shirts