T-Shirts in Culture
T-Shirts in Culture

What actually is a t-shirt? where did it come from? Why do we all have a favorite one? Or a t-shirt that reminds us of something, perhaps something special, or simply evokes a particular feeling. Tshirts became fashionable because, being so sensible to wear, they gradually replaced shirts, particularly among younger individuals. form|the form} of the sleeves (especially short sleeves) gave them their distinctive T shape, that is more evident once the garment is set out on a surface, thus the name. they’re usually made up of jersey cotton.

So, being thus practical and the huge variety of situations in which they’ll be worn made them an enormous hit… there’s no doubt about it: you’ll be able to wear them day or night, with shorts and sandals or perhaps with trousers and a jacket. Well, we think there area unit numerous things… you’ll be able to get inspirational tshirts, i.e. ones that show the user belongs to a particular group, something we’ve chosen ourselves and are pleased with, so much so that we wish to shout it out, whether or not it’s a brand, a celebrity, a city, or simply a sentence that we identify with or want to be associated with… it doesn’t matter what, simply wearing it is exciting!

When a virile, brooding Marlon Brando yelled “Stella!” in the 1951 film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, he wasn’t simply beckoning his lover, but also heralding – at the top of his lungs – the birth of a fashion icon. while the t-shirt has indeed come a long way from its rise to popularity during the 50s, it’s also, in more ways than one, remained the same.

Nearly seventy years after Brando sported one as Stanley Kowalski, and over a century after its advent, what is now a universal fashion staple is the focus of Cult – Culture – Subversion, a significant new exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile museum. A collaboration between the museum and the Civic in Barnsley, it takes a comprehensive look into the evolution of the t-shirt from its early days to the present, through a superfluity of clothes, photographs, ephemera, and other archival material sourced preponderantly from private collections.

None of this was lost on Vivienne Westwood and her then-partner in crime Malcolm Maclaren, whose T-shirts – each in terms of graphics and tailoring – effectively encapsulated the ethos of the punk movement going down in Britain during the late 70s. Nor did veteran designer Katherine Hamnett fail to understand the subversive potential of three stitched-together pieces of cotton. “It appeared as if democracy was slipping through our fingers,” she says concerning the late 70s, when she first began manufacturing her signature slogan T-shirts. “The slogan t-shirt was … something to give you a voice …

something to believe in that you could wear on your chest that could be read from two-hundred yards away.”

One is forced to think about the longevity of the t-shirt and its enduring charm. What makes the tee shirt so special, and why has it been around for so long? other than its tumultuous capability, Nothdruft makes note of its simplicity. “It’s simple … and in its basic form, it’s not gendered,” he remarks. “In its most pure form, it’s the most democratic garment.”

But where, one could justly ask, are we heading? although brands like Cutecircuit are pushing the boundaries with digital interfaces, the t-shirt, more or less, has remained faithful its original form for over a century. it is also fascinating to notice that, with the availability of three-dimensional and digital printing, as well as the retro charm of silkscreens, the DIY attitude of the punk era is in vogue yet again.

While one can’t say for sure what the future holds in store for the t-shirt, one thing, perhaps, is certain: it’s here to stay. “I don’t believe it’ll ever go,” says Nothdruft. “It’s omnipresent.” Hulanicki lets out an “Oh no!” when asked if the t-shirt can ever become a thing of the past – something Hamnett can’t envision, either. “I think they’ll go on forever,” opines the latter. “I don’t believe you can take them away … they’re unbeatable.”

The now emblematic white tee shirt was born in 1913 when the U.S. Navy issued crewnecks for soldiers to wear beneath their uniforms. in the a hundred years since, this simple article of clothing has taken on a cultural significance so innate we tend to tend to take it for granted.

87% of americans who wear T-shirts have a minimum of one they refuse to throw away for sentimental reasons. psychologist Jennifer Baumgarter, author of You Are What You Wear explains, “The t-shirt speaks to us on so many levels. It’s utilitarian, it’s affordable, it’s customizable, it’s not gender specific, it’s not season specific, it’s not even functionally specific.”

The t-shirt began as work clothing and found its way into the broader world because of simplicity and affordability. low cost and practical it presently became fashionable as well. Eventually this meant new designs, new makers and new ways of packaging.

Like jeans and the little black dress, the tee shirt may be a fashion item that has gone beyond fashion. but trends in T-shirts do change, and right now, it’s all about the message. Wham! wore a tee shirt with the saying “Number One” – and later “Choose Life”; Frankie Goes to Hollywood had “Frankie Says Relax”. Slogans work on so many completely different levels; they are virtually subliminal. they are also a way of people aligning themselves to a cause. they are tribal. wearing one is like defining yourself.

The dubbed “T-shirt” surfaced in the united states when they were issued by the U.S. Navy sometime around the Spanish american War. They featured crew-necks and short sleeves and were meant to be worn as underclothing beneath the uniform. shortly it was adopted by the army as part of the standard issue ensemble given to recruits. It got its defining name from its shape resembling the letter “T”. Dockworkers, farmers, miners, and construction type workers also adopted the t-shirt preferring the light-weight material in hotter weather conditions.

The inexpensive cotton and easy to wash garment became the shirt of choice by mothers for their sons as outerwear for chores and play. By the 1920’s “T-shirt” became an official American-English word within the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

The earliest printed shirts were perhaps the tees in the Wizard of Oz (photo above) and also the highly sought-after collectible tee created for promoting the 1939 film The Wizard of OZ (no photo available).

Credit of the first printed tee (at least being worn in a photo) usually goes to the air corps gunnery school t-shirt featured on the July thirteenth, 1942 cover of LIFE magazine.

By the time WWII started, the “modern” t-shirt had become commonplace in high schools and universities across the states, although it wasn’t yet omnipresent and was still usually worn by adults, at least, as an undershirt. (There were several exceptions, of course, particular among laborers in hot environments, like farmers.) the final push for popular acceptance of the tee shirt as an outer garment started at the end of WWII, when soldiers returning home began incorporating them into their casual wardrobe, much in the same manner they’d done throughout the war.

The popularity of a jersey as an outer garment further surged thanks to Marlon Brando and his role as Stanley Kowalski in a Street car Named Desire that featured Brando sporting a tight fitting (as most were at this point), bicep caressing t-shirt. Brando’s smouldering performance in both the play and 1951 moving picture caused a nationwide spike in sales of t-shirts, proving to the planet that the t-shirt could be a “sexy, complete, outer-wear garment“.

Although the t-shirt may be a staple piece of outerwear these days for both genders, it originally set out as an undergarment for men. Since then, it’s undergone several transformations – from the tie-dyed, baggy tee to the tight fitting shirt. additionally, the overall length, cut, fabric, and printing methods also continue to advance. Ironically, individuals now wear undergarments, like sports bras, beneath their T-shirts, despite the actual fact that it had been once used for the same purpose. when one hundred years of evolution, the appearance of the shirt continues to be constantly changing.

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