Being designed initially as undergarments to becoming the most-preferred American apparel, the T-shirt has undergone a dynamic reception. Today is used all over the world for its convenience and simplicity.
Australian fashion goes by the climate and largely mimics western style. The tropical climate of Australia calls for light-weight and breathable fabrics making t-shirts a preferred ladies’ apparel. They come in innumerable cuts, designs, and variants today, the most popular being V-neck, long sleeve, tank tops, etc.
But how did T-shirts come to occupy such an integral position in the history of fashion?
Beginnings of the T-shirt:
It has become such an indispensable part of the fashion landscape of today. It is impossible to imagine a time before it existed. But one should not forget that it is relatively quite young as it entered the scene only in the 19th century.
A breathable undergarment:
To trace the time that it first appeared, one has to go back to history. Labourers cut their clothes (jumpsuits) in half to help them keep cool during warm days. The first recorded usage of t-shirts was during the war between Mexico and America in the 1890s. The Navy issued them as undershirts.
Although they were common by then, it was not much until the year 1920 that the term “t-shirt” was included in the dictionary. The world owes its thanks to Francis Scott Fitzgerald, who first published this word in a novel he wrote.
The Brando Affair:
It was not worn as anything but as an undershirt during the 20th century. Except for veterans who wore a t-shirt post-World War II they commoners would not consider them “proper” clothes. Until the actor, Marlon Brando came along.
Marlon Brando famously sported a white t-shirt in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, making it an overnight sensation. His role gave it incredible publicity and thrust it into the spotlight. His act was succeeded by James Dean, who donned it in a- “Rebel Without a Cause.” The popularity of this garment only saw positive growth after that and was widely accepted as outerwear.
T-shirt as a medium of Expression:
The T-shirt was not just gaining acceptance as an outer-garment in fashion circles. But by then, it was also seen as an empty canvas. It was quickly becoming a medium to express rebellion.
People saw t-shirts as rebellious as they were essentially undergarments. It sent out a strong political statement. People who felt they needed to express their personal preferences in unconventional ways saw this as an opportunity.
Birth of Graphic T-shirts:
By the 1950s, numerous companies tried their hand at garment decoration. This phase was the nascent stage of a billion-dollar industry that came to be the T-shirt printing business.
Walt Disney characters were some of the first elements that printed on a t-shirt. This practice soon shot to popularity, and many realized the profit that lay in graphic t-shirts. Screenprinting and other developments made the industry what it is today.
A Medium to Send a Message:
Though printed graphic t-shirts were in use, it was only in the 70s that it was considered an opportunity to send powerful messages. The punk movement contributed to this trend enormously.
Rock bands, protests, and other cultural movements drove the rise of t-shirts as a tool for sending political messages. It could shock and outrage people by challenging the social status quo.
From humble beginnings to transforming the world of fashion, T-shirts have had an adventurous journey through history. Understanding their legacy will help one enjoy them more from now on. As a staple of ladies apparel, they are famed for their user-friendliness and comfort.
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