The t-shirt is considered the classic, default piece of clothing, but its prevalence in popular fashion is actually quite recent. Not invented until the 1920s, it didn't even become common until the 1960s. Today, of course, it is perhaps the most common item of clothing around the world. It's use in promotional clothing both helped it rise to popularity and become as widespread as it is today.
The origins of the t-shirt are much disputed and, most likely, the design actually originated in several places around the same time. Labourers and military men used the t-shirt way back in the 19th century. It was simply a way to stay covered but cool in hot weather. Later, the idea of a t-shirt came into popular culture through World War I. American troops saw European soldiers adjusting to warmer weather by wearing lightweight, button-less, collarless undershirts made of white cotton. From there, the new design was included in American military uniforms as early as the Second World War in the 1940s. At this point, a t-shirt was considered underwear equivalent to a bra for a woman. A man would surely not be seen outside of his home in such a casual item!
It was in the 1950s that Hollywood introduced the rugged white t-shirt look to Americans. The tough greasers of the decade showed up on screen wearing nothing but their undershirt, looking rough and dangerous. Through these classic movies, the t-shirt was well on its way to becoming an everyday item of clothing rather than an undergarment.
Remember that up until this time, any sort of graphic or writing on an item of clothing would be minimal. Most clothes at the time were made of non-synthetic fabric of all one colour or with a subtle pattern. Whereas today words and graphics can be printed on every item of clothing from head to toe, just fifty years ago it was hard or impossible to find anything with a graphic. Embellishment was minimal and usually done through embroidery. Even including a brand name on the outside of clothing was unusual until mid-century.
A couple of things brought us to the graphic tee of today. For one thing, in the 1960s the massive youth movement started harnessing the power of customizing their own clothing. Their techniques included tie-dying and screen printing, both ideal when done with pure cotton cloth such as that of a t-shirt. Already a cultural icon of rebellion thanks to James Dean and his contemporaries, in the 1960s it morphed from a sign of rebellion to a classic symbol of youth. As rock and roll took over, bands started making screen printed t-shirts for fans. Around the same time, pro sports teams realized they too could be making money on merchandise. This article is sponsored by Hongxing Machinery specializing in mining equipment manufacturing such as jaw crusher and mobile crusher.
Today, the t-shirt has continued to be a unique way to communicate with the Western culture as a whole. Celebrities have worn t-shirts with particular logos and words to cause an uproar or awareness. Messages of political, personal and cultural import are printed on t-shirts worldwide to build unity, create identity and advertise. It is a staple of the casual, daily outfit of people of all ages.