Connection with the sea
Again there seems to be some discrepancy over dates, although most have the U.S. Navy issuing crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirts around 1913. The newly created shirt allowed ease of movement and quick drying. By the 1920s the T-shirt had become an official tern in the American English Dictionary. By the late 1930s a couple of US retailers were marketing them, namely Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and Sears, Roebuck & Co. Apparently this blossoming fashion did have one setback - in 1934 Clark Gable took off his clothes to reveal no t-shirt at all in the comedy 'It Happened One Night.'. Nothing but a bare chest. This it seems sent t-shirt sales plummeting for a while.
By World War II both the US Navy and army were wearing standard issue t-shirts as underwear. However, it was really in the 1940’s that the t-shirt really got going with returning US servicemen.
The Smithsonian museum has ‘the oldest printed T-shirt’ on record in their collection and on display. It is a campaign shirt for New York Gov. Thomas Dewey's 1948 presidential campaign.
Hollywood inevitably had the biggest impact on the classic tee with such iconic images as Brando's T-shirt in the 1951 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and James Dean's unforgettable white tee in 'Rebel Without a Cause' in 1955, which made t-shirt wearing cool and rebellious. This was followed by Elvis Presley and others adding to its popularity.
The 1960s saw the birth of the tie-dye craze in T-shirts and by the late 1960’s the introduction of screen printing guaranteed its success as a fashion accessory. The tee became a vehicle for publicising social change and political unrest . Fashion-wise the classic tee soon spawned a number of variations such as the tank top, the V-neck, scoop neck and the muscle shirt. During the 60’s and 70's it was also music that capitalised on the popularity of the t-shirt. Rock bands began selling them at concerts with images and slogans and merchandising soon became a big money spinner.
The surfing t-shirt
Surfing has left its mark on the history of the t-shirt and fashion. The earliest examples of surfing t-shirts were no more than early marketing tools. Back in 1961 a Californian surfboard maker Floyd Smith is often credited as the first. Smith asked local surfers to bring their white t-shirts to his shop and he would screen print the company logo across it. Later that year t-shirts were made to advertise the Makaha International Surfing Championships.
Within a few years the landscape had changed completely with thousands of surf company t-shirts appearing. They quickly became "symbols of the casual and free spirited surfing lifestyle".
Today in excess of 300 million surfing t-shirts alone are produced across the globe.
Today the influence of the humble t-shirt reaches every high street and back alley across the planet. Once again social issues are topical along with environmental concerns such as global warming. The t-shirt has certainly stood the test of time and it has a long way to go yet.
JERSEY BOLA BATIK TENUN IKAT