History of The T-Shirt (Blog 1)

To us, the T-shirt is no big deal. Everyone owns at least a couple, whether plain or printed. If you think about it, we don’t see many photos of families before the 80’s wearing shirts. Where did they come from? How did they become a classic closet staple?

Back in 1913, the United States Navy adopted a new undergarment to be worn under their jumpers and cover their chest hair. This short sleeved, white cotton undershirt was the beginning of today’s popular T-Shirt. Back in the 1930’s, T-Shirts were very light weight, only weighing about 1.5-2oz.  They were also much tighter fitting, built for function and not fashion. 

That is, until Sears introduced “gobs” in 1938. These are the first retailed shirts recorded, advertised as “an outer garment or undershirt”. Still popular in the armed force, the Marines learned that the white color was easily spottable and used coffee grounds to dye them. It wasn’t until the early 1950’s when movie stars turned these “undergarments” into a fashion statement.  It was also around this time that inventors mixed house paint and spray paint to use as ink, to print onto the shirts. Later in the year, plastisol was introduced, and is still widely used to decorate apparel to this day.

As the years went on, people began to realize the power of the t-shirt! Being able to print advertisements, statements and exercise freedom of speech carried into the 60’s, with peace signs being one of the most popular designs.  The first T-Shirt store didn’t open until the early 70’s, and in the late 70’s, 8 million dollars worth of “Farrah Fawcett” T-shirts were printed with litho transfers, and sold. This was a part of the big boom that led to T-shirts becoming a whole industry. Shirts evolved to fit consumers wants and needs. Bigger and heavier shirts, large designs, softer designs, and stores began to carry pre-printed shirts to fill the need.

The T-Shirt industry today is an 18 Billion dollar industry. From kids to elders, sports teams to churches, charities to school events, anything you can think of can be put onto a T-Shirt.

Want to create your own T-shirts? Mention “Blog 1” when contacting us and receive FREE SCREENS with your first order!

“Buying T-Shirts is like taking pictures: they tell the world where you have been and who you are.”- Scott Fresener

“How to Print S-Shirts for Fun and Profit”- Scott and Pat Fresener, IBSN 978-0-9815816-0-6, 

1978 U.S. Screen Print and Inkjet Technology.

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