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Why The World Adores T-Shirts

Just as much a staple to our wardrobes as socks or jeans, t-shirts have transformed into probably the most ubiquitous item in American fashion and culture. Who would’ve thought this apparel originally designed as an undergarment would influence the global fashion, create its own industry, and change self-expression forever?

The History of T-Shirts

This simple garment that has been so deeply ingrained in cultures globally was first manufactured not too long ago. Since it was largely meant to be worn beneath one’s “actual” clothes, the t-shirt was very seldom regarded as an article in its own right.

Towards the end of the 19th century, laborers would halve their jumpsuits to cool their bodies in warmer months, and the garment was later commonly seen worn by veterans after World War II. The first-ever t-shirt was manufactured between 1989 and 1913 during the Mexican-American War when the U.S. Navy issued them as the standard undershirt. Even then, it took until an entire century after in 1920 for the term “t-shirt” to be included in the English dictionary, thanks to F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was the first person to publish the word in his novel, This Side of Paradise.

The Rise in Popularity of T-Shirts

Even with their new name, t-shirts remained as undershirts until the 1950s rolled around when Marlon Brando wore a white tee in A Streetcar Named Desire and markets exploded with a demand for the style. A few years later, A Rebel Without a Cause featured James Dean who rocked the t-shirt as a fashion statement on and off the big screen. The look was officially in for good.

Along that timeline, companies in Miami, Florida began experimenting with garment decoration, a Republican presidential candidate created perhaps the first-ever slogan t-shirt for his campaign, and later, Tropix Togs, a printing company, got hold of the original license to print Walt Disney characters onto t-shirts. Businesses began to realize the profit to be made in printing graphic t-shirts, especially with innovations in the print field coming along.

The ‘70s was when the garment emerged as something revolutionary with the rise in popularity in rock bands and fans expressing their musical inclinations and affiliations across their chests, together with protests against the Vietnam war.

The Major Role of T-Shirts

The fluid nature of t-shirts plays a part in their wide appeal. It is seen as a blank canvas that can be casual wear or high fashion, disruptive or unassuming, depending on how you style the look.

The same goes for their unique ability to convey a message. So effective were graphic t-shirts as a form of expression that in 1973, it was dubbed as ‘the medium for the message’ by The New York Times.

Simply wearing a t-shirt became a statement in itself – going against conformity and the status quo. Embracing individuality and authenticity. Some even go as far as to say that in its purest form, it is the most democratic garment.

Why Choose You Apparel?

At You Apparel, we create t-shirts that express your personality, and we’d love for you to spread your message to the world. If you have any inquiries about our line of products, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

October 30, 2021 — Alex Melen