The history of T-shirts

by Ethan More

T-shirts were first introduced to the U.S. somewhere around the time of World War I. World War I played a major role in the popularity of T-shirts as clothing items for men. T-shirts proved comfortable, light, and durable enough for them to be seenas everyday attire after the war, with men continuing to wear them throughout everyday life. 

Around this time, T-shirts started being used more often as outerwear instead of simply an undershirt. These buttons-free T-shirts became a regular staple among sailors. Interestingly, in 1905, only about one year later, the US Navy (which employed a lot of bachelors, who were supposed to have limited sewing skills) began issuing these buttonless shirts as lingerie, which was worn underneath uniforms. Apparently, in 1905, the U.S. Navy began issuing slip-on white

cotton, short-sleeved, uniform-type crewneck shirts. In 1913, the Navy adopted the classic white, unbuttoned shirt as its official undergarment, since it dried quicker and was more comfortable than flannel shirts, which had been used before.

The first manufactured t-shirts were invented in between the Mexican-American War of 1898, and 1913, when the US Navy began issuing them as the standard undershirt. Although it began being manufactured in 1898, the T-shirt truly made its mark in 1913, when it became the standard issue for U.S. Navy uniforms. As an unbuttoned, sliding-on piece of clothing, the first

shirts can be traced to somewhere between the Spanish-American War of 1898 and 1904, when Cooper Underwear Corporation ran an advertisement in the magazines advertising a new product aimed at bachelors. It was not until the early 1950s, when wayward

actors like Montgomery Cliff, Marlon Brando, and James Dean started wearing T-shirts on film, that the garment eventually became a basic item of mens wardrobes, something you could wear outdoors.

That was for men, women did not begin wearing shirts as something that was seen until the late 60s, and by the 70s, it was truly a bi-sex item. When t-shirts were made as shirts for the bottom, they were made from heavier woollen fabrics, but by the 1920s, with the invention of central heating, people did not need such heavy bottoms, so fabric changed once more. By the

time the 50s came around, a few companies in Miami, Florida, had begun to experiment with clothing decorating, but the field was far from what later became a multi-billion-dollar t-shirt-printing industry.

Around this time, people began realizing the profits to be made from t-shirt graphics, and by the 1960s, innovations to the print industry, including the birth of screen printing, would help transform the t-shirt industry into what it is today. The first licensing deals started popping up around the 1970s, and t-shirts became big moneymakers. If you had the bands T-shirt back then, that was a far bigger deal, because those T-shirts were not made in as large of quantities as today.

You can shop huge collections of T-shirts from Tshirt Truck. . 

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