The Evolution of the T-Shirt

The t-shirt has been a staple of fashion for as long as many of us can remember. Throwing on a t-shirt is simple and quick.  It can be the staple of a casual look or even something a little bit nicer (see what we did there?). We’ll let Daniel Craig demonstrate, he’s someone who can aptly prove this point:

Daniel Craig casual t-shirt

Casual t-shirt look.

Daniel Craig classy t-shirt

Classy t-shirt look.

Pre-1900s t-shirts

The ways we can now wear t-shirts is thanks to an evolution that has occurred over the last +100 years. Early t-shirts were worn as underwear and by men who fought in the Spanish Civil War beneath their uniforms (see the guy to the far right):

Spanish Civil War t-shirts

 T-shirts After the Wars

After a few decades of societies liberalization the t-shirt became something people would wear by itself. The early 1900s saw lots of conservatism (remember prohibition?) and rebellion against it (remember flappers and bootleggers?) T-shirts popular in the 1930s were typically plain shirts, or shirts with stripes. Ten bucks says this kids name is Johnny:

1903s t-shirt

1930s t-shirt style.

Swell 1950s t-shirts

By the 1950s the second Great War was over and people were living large. Fashion mostly had evolved in to what many now view as humble, but the t-shirt became something for the Arthur Fonzarelli‘s and Marlon Brando‘s of the world to wear. Below, a man whose name is probably Rusty dons a crucial leap in the evolution of the t-shirt: the graphic tee.

1950s shirt

Graphic t-shirts in the ’50s!

Peace and Love 1960s t-shirts

In the 1960s, things got a little weird with the t-shirt and hippies began dying them all sorts of weird colors. This is a time best overlooked for the t-shirt.

Disco and stuff 1970s t-shirts

In the 1970s, t-shirts began to more reflect pop culture, much in the way we know them today. Images of superheros, cartoon characters, band names, and more became popular styles for t-shirts. It was out of the era that many famous shirts were born, like the classic Ramones band tee, and the iconic I love NY shirt.

1970s Hulk tee.

Mondo 1980s t-shirts

The 1980s were an interesting time, probably best left forgotten.

1980s Apple t-shirts

What… is happening here.

1990s t-shirts were all that!

Okay, maybe the 1990s weren’t any better.

1990s t-shirts

This can’t be real, can it?

2000s and beyond: a return to sanity

With a new millenium came a renewed sense of fashion in the world of t-shirts. This era became centered on the reappropriation of images to fit with a brand’s identity.

Reusing an old phrase nicely here.

Of course, in 2010 Jack & Bishop was born. Forever redefining the t-shirt industry, and therefore the world ;-)

Watercolor men's t-shirt

T-shirts have come a long way since the late 1800s, and thank god they have. What’s your favorite t-shirt era? Or favorite t-shirt? What do you think the t-shirt will look like in 10, 20, 30 years? Let us know in the comments below!

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