The simple T-shirt, genderless and worn by all, hasn’t changed much since the late 19th Century when it was introduced as an undergarment. Or has it? Today’s T-shirts are basically the same with one exception: They’ve become a vehicle for promoting and advertising anything and everything under the sun. Corporate-branded T-shirts, pop culture and celebrity fan T-shirts, concert and event T-shirts, military unit and veteran T-shirts, protest and social cause T-shirts, and self-image T-shirts are commonplace throughout the world.
The Beginning of Printed T-shirts:
One of the first instances of printed T-shirts occurred in 1942 when Life magazine featured an Air Corps Gunnery School T-shirt on its cover. But the idea of putting words and images on T-shirts did not get real until the 1960s when printed T-shirts became a popular means of self-expression. Marketers picked up on this trend, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Marketers weren’t the only ones who saw the value of printed T-shirts. Today, thousands of military-related messages appear on T-shirts, both in and out of uniform. The military realized the convenience of T-shirts early on. In 1905, the U.S. Navy adopted the T-shirt as part of its uniform. Other services followed, and by the end of World War II, T-shirts were required to be worn under the uniform by all military branches.
Many service members continued the habit of wearing T-shirts upon returning home after the war. Military veterans began wearing them as casual outerwear as they had done while serving overseas. Up until that time, T-shirts weren’t considered an appropriate garments to wear in public.
The T-shirt owes much of its popularity to the military, and military printed T-shirts are popular with the young and old. Their printed messages normally promote unit cohesiveness and recognition; honor a certain group, such as veterans and POW/MIAs, and display pride and patriotism.
The more you know!