1980S Animation With Black Kid From New York City The Definitive History of the T-Shirt

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The Definitive History of the T-Shirt

Today the modern T-shirt has produced a very large textile and fashion industry, worth over two billion dollars to the global retail business. The inevitable rise of the t-shirt is an unsurprising phenomenon, yet this humble garment is set to change fashion and style trends for generations to come. Ultimately the T-Shirt will be used as a political tool for protest and at certain times and places in history, a symbol of change and change.

In the beginning the t-shirt was more than just a piece of clothing, a very useful one at that. At the end of the 19th century the uniform, (also known in writing as long johns), was in its heyday, worn across America and northern parts of Europe. Popular across class and generation, the balanced knit covers the entire body, from the neck to the wrists and ankles. The pièce de résistance design features a drop flap at the back for easy outdoor use. As cotton became more and more common, underwear manufacturers used the time to create an alternative to this basic and rather dangerous design. Woven material is difficult to cut and sew threads and so with cotton, a radical change to a mass-produced fashion can begin.

In the changing European times, as Americans continued to sweat and itch, a simple “T-shaped” model was cut twice from a cotton cloth and the two pieces were centered and stitched together at home a small European service. It was two halves of the long Johns, but it soon took on a life of its own. As the Industrial Revolution marks its inevitable end, Henry T. Ford founded the world’s first production line, the ideas of functionalism, efficiency, and utilitarian style have entered the primitive consciousness of societies across the world, and Europe in particular. Many began to question the Puritanism of the past, the Victorian’s low-key ideas of moderation began to give way to scantier and scantier swimsuits, ankle-length skirts, and short-sleeved shirts. As World War I was raging, the t-shirt was about to enter the military.

Historical researchers say the first recorded instance of the introduction of the T-shirt to the United States occurred during World War One when US soldiers noticed the light cotton shirts that European soldiers had been issued as uniforms. The American soldiers are screaming, their government is still giving out woolen clothes, this is not a trend, it is a tactical military disadvantage. How can a killer stand and aim his gun with beads of sweat pouring down his face, and an itch that won’t go away? The US Army may not have reacted as quickly as their soldiers would have liked, but a very useful and light t-shirt will soon make its way back to the mainstream American consumer.

Because of their well-known design, and they wanted a better name, the word “T-shirt” was created, and as the word found its place in the fashion dictionary, people around the world started to get a new and more comfortable alternative to the union shirt. A handful of American experts say that the name was coined in 1932 when Howard Jones gave “Jockey” a new design of a sweat absorbing shirt for the USC Trojans football team. Although the US military contested the origins of the word came from army training shirts, being a military was not long before the adoption of the abbreviation. There is another theory, little known and rather graphic in its meaning. In particular the concept of short long arms is described as the design of torso amputees, a common sight in the bloody wars of the past, although this observation cannot be verified, the concept has a gory ring of truth about it. During World War II the T-shirt was finally issued as a uniform for all positions in the US Army and Navy. Although the T-shirt is intended as an undergarment, soldiers engaged in heavy combat or construction work, and especially those stationed in hot weather, will often wear a T-shirt without a cover. always. On July 13th, 1942, the cover story for Life magazine featured a photo of a soldier wearing a T-shirt with the words “Air Corps Gunnery School”.

In the first few years after World War II, the European trend for wearing T-shirts as outerwear, inspired mainly by the new US military uniforms, spread to Americans. In 1948 the New York Times reported a new and unique tool for that year’s campaign for New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey. It was the first recorded “T-Shirt slogan”, the message read “See You for Dewey”, closely followed by more “I like Ike” T-shirts in the campaign of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In the early 1950s businesses based in Miami, Florida, began to emblazon tee shirts with Floridian resort names and even cartoon characters. The first recorded graphic t-shirt catalog was created by Tropix Togs, by its creator and founder, Miami entrepreneur Sam Kantor. They are the original license for Walt Disney characters that include Mickey Mouse and Davy Crockett. Later other companies expanded into the tee shirt printing business including the Sherry Manufacturing Company also based in Miami.

Sherry started the business in 1948, the owner and founder, Quinton Sandler, was quick to take the new T-shirt trend, and quickly expanded the largest screen scarf company to licensed screen printing in the United States. Soon more and more celebrities were seen on national TV sporting this new risqué outfit including John Wayne, and Marlon Brando. In 1955 James Dean gave T-Shirt street confidence in the classic movie “Rebel Without a Cause”. The T-Shirt is quickly becoming a contemporary symbol of rebellious youth. The first furre and public outcry soon died down and in time even the American Bible Belt could see the usefulness of its design.

In the 60’s people started to dye and screenprint the basic cotton T-Shirt making it an even bigger financial success. Advances in printing and dying have allowed variety and the Tank Top, Muscle Shirt, Scoop Neck, V-Neck, and many other variations of the T-Shirt come into fashion. In this period of cultural experimentation and chaos, many independent T-shirt printers made copies of “Guerrillero Heroico, or Heroic Guerilla”, the famous picture of Ernesto “Che” Guevara taken by Alberto “Korda” Diaz. It has since been said to be the most reproduced image in the history of photography, mainly thanks to the promotion of the T-shirt.

The 1960s also saw the creation of the “Ringer T-shirt” which became a trend for teenagers and rock-n-rollers. The decade also saw the emergence of tie-dyeing and screen-printing on the basic T-shirt. In 1959, “Plastisol”, a more durable and stretchable ink, was invented, allowing for much more t-shirt designs. As textile technologies improved, new T-shirt styles were soon introduced, including the tank top, A-shirt (popularly known as “bride teacher”), muscle shirt, scoop necks, and V-neck course.

More and more iconic T-shirts were designed and created throughout the Psychedelic era, with more and more home-made experiments. A wave of tie-dye t-shirts began to appear at emerging music festivals in Western Europe and the United States. By the late 60s it was practically a required dress code within the West Coast hippie culture. Club T-shirts became an extremely popular form of T shirt, printed and sold at live games and concerts of the day, the trend continues to this day, club shirts are as popular as ever, however their price has risen dramatically. .

In 1975 Vivienne Westwood made her mark at 430 King’s Road, London in the boutique “Sex” with her new Punk style t-shirts, including her infamous “God Save The Queen” design. Punk introduced an explosion of independent fashion designers and especially t-shirt designers. To this day, many modern styles pay tribute to the “grunge look” of the rebellious and anarchic era of Western culture.

The influx of corporate funding of the 1980s changed the entire face of the T-shirt market. The slogan T-shirt is gaining popularity again, “Choose Life” was made to promote George Michael’s band’s debut album “Wham”, while “Frankie Say” helped push a string of controversial singers much to the top of the UK charts for Liverpool based number “Frankie Goes to Hollywood”. Clubs, football clubs, political parties, advertising agencies, business conference organizers, in fact anyone after something cheap promotion began to order and sell large numbers of T-shirts. A notable exception of the era is now the iconic “Feed the World” T-shirt, created to raise money and awareness of the original and ground-breaking Band Aid charity event.

During the 80’s and 90’s T-Shirt production and printing technologies improved greatly, including early forms of DTG (Direct to Cloth Transfer) printing, increasing volume and availability. While in the financial circles, the world’s stock markets noticed how the American T-Shirt was classified as a product in the clothing industry.

Branded company logos recently made their big mark on the industry. Every new generation of T-shirt designs swam the market, promoting conformity and commitment to a brand name, like Nike, rather than the expression of individuality. This rather unsatisfying tradition continues to this day, the now iconic “Vintage 82” T-shirt from “Next” for example. Within a few years of its first printing, this design was allowed to flood the market, until cheap copies and black market attacks flooded the world. There are many similar designs that have such a limited traditional shelf life.

More recently an interesting movement towards editing the T-shirt has enabled pressure groups and charities to push their message to a wider audience. Over a million people took to London wearing a variety of anti-war, anti-Bush and anti-Blair shirts at the anti-Iraq rally. Another example, reminiscent of the earlier Band Aid incident, saw the 2005 Story of Poverty campaign gain global media coverage. Shortly after Vivienne Westwood re-emerged in the T-shirt world with her new T-shirt “I’m not a terrorist, please don’t arrest me”. British fashion icon Catherine Hamnett is known for her protest T-shirts, including her work to highlight Third World debt and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Then again, Catherine has recently said how wearing political slogan shirts allows customers to “feel like they’ve participated in a democratic act”, when in fact all they’ve done is buy a small piece of clothing. This may be true, however they still bring great media attention for any reason.

Over the years the styles, images, and contribution to the free society that T-shirts have provided are taken for granted, the T-shirt is now an essential accompaniment for any fashionable wardrobe, regardless of part of the world. However more technological advances in the industry have allowed for more choices in style and cut. Oversized T-shirts that extend to the knees, are popular with hip hop and skater styles. Times change, however from time to time the market women embrace a more fitting “cropped” T-shirt style, cut short enough to show the midriff. The rise of the “hoodie” or long hooded T-shirt cannot be underestimated, it is also quickly becoming an essential addition to any street smart fashion collection.

Recently there has been a huge consumer backlash against the company’s exclusive fit and license t-shirt product. The consumer is finally returning some sense of individuality, people today are not satisfied with the concept of “brand loyalty”. People like to express their own personality, political beliefs, sense of humor or sense of humor. Some are designing their own with the help of a wide selection of online DIY t-shirt printing services, including “Cafe Press” and “Threadless” to name a couple. But most people don’t have the time or inclination to design their own artwork, and thus mark the rise of the independent T-shirt designer. Reminiscent of the 1960s but with international enthusiasm, artists, graphic designers, the returnees of the fashion world have begun to take notice. The greatest asset that a modern T-shirt can have is its originality, a quality that will always be in demand, both now and hopefully far into the future.

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