The history of T shirts is long and
varied with great historical reconances and an infamy and political
edge that has not been seen in any other item of clothing! The T
shirt is a political tool as much as a something to cover your nudity
- through out the history of T shirts they have been used to place
important and lilfe changing messages into the public domain.
T shirts history begins
with the industrial revolution in England and the rise of international
trade. Before then people wore clothes hand stitched from locally
sourced materials, and had no predeliction for slogan T shirts or
any design on their clothes. Being alive was the important indicator
of health and to this end clothes were made for warm and life giving
properties. Whilst garments existed that had short sleeves, they
bore no resemblance to what we call a T shirt and so are generally
excluded from T shirts history on the basis of not having all the
qualities now associated with a T shirt.
After the industrial revolution
mass production became a possibility and T shirt history grew exponentially.
Although the cotton for the bulk manufacture of T shirts came orginally
from the Americas, it was in Europe that the T shirt history develops
first. After much experimentation cotton was found to be the ideal
material for underwear, and T shirts were made from this to prevent
the harder, rougher outer clothing from itching the wearer. Immediately
the t shirt contributed to an easier, more fitted wardrobe, but
it remained resolutely and undergarment and was only seen in public
on washing lines and at the back of clothing establishments.
By the 20th century men
in manual work could be seen wearing T shirts during the hot summer
days in Southern European countries, though in America the vest
still ruled supreme. It was when united States army personnel came
to Europe in the first half of the 20th century that they were introduced
en masse to the T shirt and saw in it a lightweight yet relaxed
item that could be worn in mixed company - which a vest could not
be. Even today the vest struggles to gain the acceptance that the
T shirt has enjoyed for most of it's long history.
T shirts history takes
off when the World Wars are over and Anglosaxon culture is being
taken round the world as part of the cold war. Having been an item
of underwear the T shirt is grasped with open arms by the population
of Western and wannabeWestern nations and it has never looked back.
'I love T shirts' by Jonathan Powell