Ever wonder where that most common (and comfortable) of all wardrobe items came from? This week's post explores the origins of the humble t-shirt. Here's the scoop: the t-shirt got started in the US during World War I when American troops noticed the lightweight cotton undershirts being worn by European soldiers. The American GI's undershirts were itchy, scratchy wool, so they took to cotton t-shirts quite quickly.
The word "t-shirt" was first published in the Merriam-Webster dictionary in the 1920s.
The first promotional t-shirt was created in 1939 for "The Wizard of Oz".
By World War II, cotton t-shirts were standard issue for both the Army and Navy.
T-shirts were still considered an under garment when Marlon Brando and John Wayne wore their "underwear" on television and in film, shocking the American populace. Then in 1955, James Dean wore a t-shirt in "Rebel Without A Cause" and the t-shirt became a symbol of youthful rebellion – and hugely popular.
In the 1960s, people started to experiment with tie dye and screen printing on t-shirts, and the increasing diversity of designs made t-shirts even more popular. Several variations of the t-shirt also developed around this time: the ringer t-shirt, v-neck t-shirts, muscle shirts (sleeveless t-shirts) and tank tops.
In 1977, 8 million dollars of Farrah Fawcett t-shirts were sold.
Today, approximately 2 billion t-shirts are sold worldwide every year. T-shirts now come in many styles, fits, and fabrics, and they are quite possibly America’s most popular type of apparel. Recent innovations include the addition of polyester fibers, the development of the 100% polyester t-shirt, and softer, lighter weight cottons.
In a recent survey, 62% of those who responded said they owned more than ten t-shirts. 79% of 18 to 24 yearolds had more than ten t-shirts, and amazingly, 19% reported owning over thirty t-shirts.
91% of Americans have a “favorite” t-shirt. Do you?