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How did the t-shirt come about?

The classic t-shirt is part of each of our wardrobes. It is comfortable, pleasant, practical, and can be elegant. But its history is not as long as it might seem. Do you know when an ordinary T-shirt saw the light of day?

Have you ever wondered how a T-shirt has become part of the ordinary wardrobe of people all over the world? Its introduction into the world of fashion meant a huge revolution in this industry.

The T-shirt was originally made of underwear.It was mainly about comfort, because the buttons on the clothes were, especially in sleep, very impractical. The beginnings of the T-shirt date back to the end of the 19th century, when workers first made a T-shirt by cutting their pajamas in two halves. Its upper part was then worn when working in the warmer months of the year.

The official production of T-shirts then began during the Mexican-American War, when soldiers of the United States Navy began wearing the T-shirt as part of the uniform.


Senior couple dressed in custom t-shirts having a conversation at the bar.
Senior couple dressed in custom t-shirts having a conversation at the bar

The first name of the T-shirt began to be used in 1920 due to its shape, when Francis Scott Fitzgerald called it that way in his book On the Threshold of Paradise.

At the beginning of the 20th century, however, a T-shirt was still not a common part of every wardrobe.These were rather exceptions and were most often worn by workers and soldiers.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was worn by the US Navy under a uniform. Soldiers, sailors, or marines often fought in areas with high temperatures, so they took off their uniforms and kept only T-shirts. T-shirts as underwear were available to the general public. It was comfortable, cheap, and easy to maintain. They were accepted by farmers, workers of all kinds, as well as sports enthusiasts.

In the 1940s, T-shirts became very popular among young boys, who did not yet have to follow such strict dress rules, unlike older men.

After the Second World War, T-shirts were worn as outerwear, especially by veterans during their leisure activities and small jobs. It was not until the 1950s that T-shirts and tank tops became popular as outerwear.

Its worldwide expansion did not occur until the 1950s, mainly thanks to Hollywood. The sex symbol of the time, Marlon Brando, wore a T-shirt in the Tram called A Streetcar Named Desire. People have noticed that even in an ordinary T-shirt, they can look very good, and soon almost everyone started looking for him. Especially young men wanted to resemble the idol of their time, and the demand for T-shirts grew at rocket speed. At first, it was a "rebel" piece of clothing, but gradually it found its place in the company of luxury brands and thus replaced the hitherto sovereign shirt.

Another big milestone was the discovery that people are interested in T-shirts decorated with various motifs and that they can be used for advertising purposes. For their election campaign, they are used, for example, by Thomas E. Dewey, who had his election slogan „Dew-It with Dewey“ suppressed for them. However, the most significant step in the industry was taken by Tropix Togs in the late 1950s, which obtained a license from Walt Disney Studios to print their cartoon characters. This is the first time we meet T-shirts with a Mickey Mouse head. Companies mushrooming on T-shirts began to multiply like mushrooms after the rain, and music groups, for example, soon joined Mickey.Both trends are still here today and their popularity is not declining.

Printed T-shirts soon became a kind of self-expression of our personality. It all started in the '60s as a marketing campaign of the advertising agency Wells Rich Greene, which, in order to increase the sale of souvenirs, created the iconic T-shirts with the inscription I ♥ New York for the state of New York. It was a huge blockbuster and you must have noticed for yourself that there are an incredible amount of variations of this sign on the market today.

T-shirts have become an excellent means of personal expression. Subsequent advances in screen printing brought a new wave in the form of graphic prints. T-shirts have become an excellent means of personal expression. Subsequent advances in screen printing brought a new wave in the form of graphic prints. The T-shirts wore prints from bands to political slogans.

In the '70s and '80s, shopping centers began to emerge, where people could have a print made on site. More and more musicians and companies considered T-shirts to be a good and powerful tool for selling their brand.

Today, T-shirts are quite common in better company.They are even offered by such luxury brands as The Gap, Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein.They have become a symbol of our time and in recent years, various conveniences have begun to appear in the form of T-shirts that play, shine and can be connected to portable devices. Each time simply demands its own, and even in the future, T-shirts will certainly not disappear from our wardrobe.

middle aged couple enjoying coffee
Middle aged couple enjoying coffee

T-shirts are now more modern and fashionable than ever. They have unlimited possibilities for cuts, colors, and patterns. There are no limits to the imagination in this area. The production process is now more modern and faster.

Thus, the T-shirt has undergone several major changes during its history, especially in the method of processing, choice of material, and also in how it was received - from the beginning a part of clothing that was designed exclusively for wearing under outerwear, to the most common outerwear.

The problem with the production of conventional cotton needed for the production of T-shirts is that ordinary cotton is produced at the lowest possible cost and its production does not take into account social or environmental impacts. The conventional textile industry is one of the biggest polluters on our planet. When growing and processing conventional cotton, a huge amount of chemicals are used, the residues of which are found in the final product and are released into our body through the skin.

The best organic cotton clothing today, which is made ethically from organic cotton, in the processing of which no chemicals were used and holds the strictest GOTS certification.

Such clothing is also suitable for vegans, allergy sufferers and people with sensitive skin.

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