5 things you definitely didn’t know

About the history of the T-shirt


Thursday 21 June 2018

The T-shirt is an indispensible item in everyone’s wardrobe. It is practical and comfortable while also allowing room for your individuality to shine through. Fashion brands bend over backwards to outsmart each other in designing original pieces offering consumers a diverse range of styles, colours, and prints to choose from. Fashion Arena Prague Outlet has an impressive selection on offer meaning you’re sure to find your very own must-have T-shirt here. But what about the history of the T-shirt? We’ve put together five interesting facts to enlighten you. 

It all goes back to impractical underwear

Until the end of the 19th century, workers wore all-in-one underwear beneath their work clothes to keep warm. For certain professions such as miners and those working the fields, however, this kind of underwear wasn’t particularly practical. To solve the problem, labourers began cutting off the top half to wear on its own. American firm Cooper Underwear Company caught on to the idea and began manufacturing only the top part of the original ‘union suits’.

The sailor T-shirt trend 

The striped sailor’s T-shirt has been popular for decades now. It officially came into being on 27.3.1858 as a component of the uniform of French mariners. The T-shirt featured 21 stripes with each stripe representing one of Napoleon’s victories.  Nowadays there are numerous variations on that very specific nautical theme, including versions with different necklines and collars, classic blue and white ones as well as their brightly coloured equivalents. Over time the striped T-shirt has become a fashion staple not only for men, but also for women and children. Find your favourite stripe at Nautica or United Colors of Benetton.

The “Polo shirt” as a revolution in sports attire

In 1926 French tennis star René Lacoste played the US Open wearing a polo shirt and started a sportswear revolution.  When Lacoste opened his clothing business in 1933 the range included white tennis T-shirts. The brand continues to do so today, albeit with a far greater range of colours and versions to choose from. Today’s fashion market offers an impressive selection too – polo shirts having become a popular casual clothing item for men and women.

Crowds go wild over simple white T-shirt 

American cinema icons Marlon Brando and James Dean stirred widespread interest in the T-shirt in the 1950s, propelling it to fashionable status thanks to films such as A Streetcar Named Desire and Rebel without a Cause. Brando and Dean’s white T-shirts not only appealed to young men but also to older guys who were inspired by their style. Sales for run-of-the-mill white T-shirts quickly rocketed to an incredible $18 million a year.

The huge print business 

The first known T-shirt print most likely saw the light of day in 1942. It was designed for military pilots and a photo of it appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine on 13th July that year. During the 1960s, rock bands made the printed T-shirt their own, with, for example, the Rolling Stone’s “tongue and lips” logo achieving immortal status. Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead followed suit with T-shirt prints of their own. The huge boom in T-shirt printing, which continues to this day, can be attributed to the popularity of such bands and the jam-packed concerts where their T-shirts are sold.