The Epic Evolution of The T-Shirt
T-Shirts have turned into far more than a simple fashion statement. They stand as a way to communicate with others. They tell people your beliefs, your interests, what you stand for as an individual. It’s extraordinary how t-shirts, one of the most simplistic pieces of clothing, have transformed into the most vital piece of clothing around. No other form of decorated apparel has done what a simple T-shirt has in the short time it has technically been in existence.
Although clothing options similar to T-shirts existed long before the definite “T-Shirt” such as the tunic, it was in the 20th century that the actual t-shirt made its mark on the world. So, where did they come from? How have they stood the test of time against everything else? How have they turned into the most significant way to send a message and reflect who we are? A little history may give us the answer.
The Beginning Of The T-Shirt
T-shirts have maintained one thing over the years – simplicity. They began as undershirts and still get used for the same thing today. In 1904 the Cooper Underwear Company offered a rugged cotton undershirt. Before this, your only option was basically a button-down onesie that worked more like a thermal. Cooper Underwear marketed the new tops as “bachelor undershirts,” and they later became part of the US Navy uniform in 1913. While serving its time as a uniform and called “lightweight short-sleeve white cotton undervests,” it was an astonishing author who gave the clothing option a true name. F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise marked the very first use of the name T-shirt.
At this time, there was still only the plain white t-shirt, and it was Marlon Brando in 1951 who made the plain t-shirt a fashion statement. Since they were still considered undergarments, Brando’s idea of wearing the t-shirt was rebellious at the time. Both Marlon Brando and James Dean had made significant fashion changes in the world due to their persona on screen. However, before those two, the first promotional t-shirt was made for the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. It took almost a decade for the t-shirt to get used as a political statement. In 1949, Thomas E. Dewey used a shirt to help promote his campaign as he ran for New York governor.
It was in the ’60s that the t-shirt took on a new meaning. Popular fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki began marketing the t-shirt to the youth. They started selling t-shirts in 1964. However, pullback to 1956, when the very first band t-shirt was made by none other than the King, Elvis Presley. Popularity also grew with Mickey Mouse t-shirts getting made in the ’50s. In the late ’50s, screen printing was finally introduced with the invention of plastisol ink.
In the 1960s, as the decade of protests progressed, so did screen printing techniques. Tie-dying came about soon after the creation of plastisol. It was then that bright colors and patterns became common and popular.
Band t-shirts rapidly took off during the 1970s, with the UK punk movement rising. The Sex Pistol’s famous and now iconic “God Save the Queen” t-shirt turned into a controversy, but only to their benefit. The punk movement took advantage of screen printing techniques to make not only band shirts but vulgar and political statements. They changed fashion at the time with their ripped up apparel and rebellious looks. Even today, you can find some of the most famous punk t-shirts reprinted from The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, and more as their message continues to spread.
From Here To Eternity
After the 1970s, the ideas that were used only elevated more. On the spot, printing became accessible, which allowed shops to create more products faster than ever before. Every band out there now tours with a mess of t-shirts, which have turned into their main source of profit.
T-shirts have now devoured the world, and it’s impossible not to own one yourself. It’s invaded the world and become one of the most comfortable, fashionable, political, and individualistic pieces of attire created. No other fashion trend has had an evolution like the t-shirt, and they won’t go anywhere anytime soon. Now, schools, athletic teams, tv shows, games, movies, every medium out there has a t-shirt. T-shirt printing has continued to evolve with the high demand, and now even you and your pet can have their very own t-shirt.
Universal Graphics T-Shirt Printing
If you’re ready to leave your mark on history, Universal Graphics can help. We offer branding and promotional items. Don’t just stop at amazing t-shirts. We also offer masks, mugs, pens, and more promotional items! We can elevate your branding and marketing with our printing capabilities. Give us a call today to see how we can help you!