History of the T-shirt

The history of the T-shirt by Phil Rigby. Logobear Newcastle upon Tyne.

The T-shirt, originally a 19th century undergarment was named after it’s shape! Initially of 2 part construction – sewn together at the sides.

The fabric is usually a jersey knit cotton with good stretch – unlike dress shirts made of a woven cloth.

In recent years advances in manufacture mean they typically are of tubular construction so don’t have side seams, and added arms – usually ‘drop shoulder’

The t-shirt is traditionally thought of as a low priced garment, and has been subject to incredible price competition. This means that many are mass produced in gross working environments using chemical intensive growing and manufacture.

A number of global manufacturers have signed up to global standards including WRAP and Logobear always aim to recommend products with ethical credential. This is a real challenge as the drive for low prices means many compromises.

Until the 1940’s t-shirts were not decorated, but this began to change as they became outerwear instead of underwear.

Wikipedia sites 1939 film the wizard of oz as 3 characters in the Emerald City appear wearing green t-shirts printed with OZ on the fronts.

The printed t-shirt really took off when the mayor of New York commissioned ad agency Wells Rich Greene to develop an advertising campaign. The iconic I <3 N Y design was created by Milton Glaser and has been adapted for a multitude of variations ever since.

Another iconic t-shirt from the 1970’s is the ‘Terrorist Chic’ Che Guevara which is widely available today from high street outlets.

Tie dye was a popular DIY method of creating unique t-shirt alternatives, and is still popular today by suppliers such as Colourtone (stocked by Logobear)

The ‘Tour’ t-shirt has been the mainstay of t-shirts for 50 years, and in recent years often earns bands more than physical music sales as music is shared digitally.

The 1980’s saw a significant change in decoration as Katherine Hammett created oversized text designs such as CHOOSE LIFE and adapted by Paul Morley with FRANKIE SAY RELAX

The rebound came in the 1990’s when French Connection used a small lower case graphic “fcuk” to promote itself in dozens of variations. Questions were asked in parliament, and the clever anachronism re launched the t-shirt as statement fashion wear.

Clever graphical use of text was taken further in the 2000’s by Superdry incorporating Japanese and international design influences.

French Connection and Superdry began a trend that continues today where the name or logo of the brand becomes the fashion. To many it is not about the garment but the label as tribes buy into a brand.

Logobear have printed garments since 1991 (trading as Spectrum Imaging) and many personalised products make use of clever adaptations of established designs. All designs are copy write, and everyone must respect original creation. Variations on the wartime ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ and I <3 N Y are still polular.

Logobear encourage you to be creative and original in your artwork. The web can be great inspiration, but the best designs are your own ideas. Let Logobear realise them. T-shirts often printed in an hour from our shop at 74 Clayton Street, Newcastle upon Tyne. NE1 5PG

www.logobear.co.uk      0191 222 1138      info@logobear.co.uk