...who invented the T-shirt? I was getting dressed the other morning and trying to choose from my vast array of beloved T-shirts, my uniform here at Dharma, and I started wondering just who invented this garment anyway? Cheap and the most basic design possible, (lay it out flat, and see how it resembles a stubby letter T, hence the name) yet the sales of T-shirts and all their variations probably surpass those of all other tops at least a million times over, maybe a billion (just guessing, no statistics to back that up, but we sure sell a lot of ‘em at Dharma)!
I bet almost every single American, maybe everyone in the world, has quite a few (even my 94 year old Grandma had some) – plain ones for underwear or work, tie dye ones in a huge array of colors and designs, collector ones bought at concerts and other memorable events, political ones, funny ones, witty ones, gag ones, too cute ones, ones with our kids art or photo, ones that are done by professional artists and good enough to hang on a wall. T-shirts can make us walking advertising billboards or political statements or protesters. Silk screen, batik, tie-dye, shibori, appliqué, photo transfers, art transfers, markers, paint, you name it, it’s been done on a T-shirt. So the simple T is not so simple after all. Instead, a canvas upon which we express ourselves.
I googled “who invented the T-shirt” and the exact same story, verbatim, seemed to be copied on every link –
“…The idea of the T-shirt came to the USA during WWI when US soldiers noticed the light cotton undershirts European soldiers were using while the US soldiers sweated in their wool uniforms. Since they were so much more comfortable they quickly became popular among the Americans, and because of their design they got the name T-shirt. During WWII the T-shirt had become standard issue underwear in both the U.S. Army and Navy.
After WWII the T-shirt started appearing without a shirt covering it. John Wayne, Marlon Brando and James Dean all wore them... At first the public was shocked but by 1955 it had become acceptable. The T-shirt became cool when James Dean wore it in the film Rebel Without a Cause…”
I also found this: “… The U.S. Navy adopted a crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt as issue to be worn under a jumper as early as 1913. The purpose: to cover sailors' chest hairs. It wasn't until the late 1930s that companies including Hanes, Sears & Roebuck, and Fruit of the Loom earnestly started to market the T-shirt.”
While we’re on the subject….we were researching the info for this month’s Did you Know section of the newsletter and we remembered that we have a great book dedicated to this very topic. We all have T-shirts in our closet, many of which we can’t seem to get rid of but that haven’t been worn since the night of the concert…or whatever. Want to find a way to breath life into that old T-shirt again? Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt (#BGT) is the book for you.