Nowadays the modern T-shirt has spawned a vast textile and fashion industry, worth over two-billion dollars to the world’s retail trade. The unlikely birth of the t-shirt was a rather unspectacular event, however this humble part of attire was set to change the designs and fashions of cultures intended for generations to come. Eventually the T-Shirt would be used as a political device for protest and in certain times plus places in history, a symbol of trend and change.
At the very beginning the t-shirt was little more than a piece of under garments, an extremely utilitarian one at that. In the late 19th century the particular union suit, (also colloquially called long johns), was in its hi day, worn across America and northern parts of Europe. Popular throughout class and generation, this moderate knitted one-piece covered the whole entire body, from the neck to the wrists and ankles. The designs pièce sobre résistance featured a drop flap in the back for ease of use in the old outhouse. As cotton grew to become more and more widely available, underwear manufacturers grabbed the moment to create an alternative to this mainstay and rather cumbersome design. Woven material is difficult to cut and sew seams and thus with natural cotton a radical shift towards mass-made fashion could begin.
In European countries times were changing, as the Americans continuing to sweat and itch, an easy “T-shaped” template was cut twice from a piece of cotton cloth as well as the two pieces faced and sewed together in a lowly European workhouse. It was half a pair of long johns, but it soon took on a life of its own. As the Industrial Revolution reached its inevitable conclusion, Holly T. Ford created the world’s first production line, the ideas of functionalism, efficiency, and utilitarian style entered the mainstream consciousness of societies across the world, and European countries in particular. Many began to question the Puritanism of the past, Victorian buttoned-down ideas of modesty were beginning to give way to scantier and scantier swimsuits, ankle-bearing skirts, and short-sleeved shirts. As World War One particular loomed upon the horizon, the particular t-shirt was about to be conscripted to the army.
Historical researchers define the first recorded incident of the introduction from the T-shirt to the United States occurred during World War One when US soldiers remarked upon the light natural cotton undershirts European soldiers were released as standard uniform. American soldiers were fuming, their government were still issuing woolen uniforms, this wasn’t fashion, it was practically the tactical military disadvantage. How can a sniper keep still and aim his rifle with beads of sweat pouring in his eye, and an itch that just wouldn’t go away? The US army might not have reacted as quickly as their troops would have liked, but the highly practical and light t-shirt would soon make its way back to the popular American consumer.
Due to their highly familiar shape, and want for a better name, the word “T-shirt” was gave, and as the word found its put in place the cultural lexicon, people around the globe began to adopt the new and more comfy alternative to the union shirt. A handful of American experts claim that the name had been coined in 1932 when Howard Jones commissioned “Jockey” to design a brand new sweat absorbing shirt for the USC Trojans football team. However the ALL OF US army contests the origins from the word come from army training tshirts, being the military it was shortly before practicality ensured the abbreviation. There is one alternative theory, small known and rather graphic in its interpretation. Essentially the idea that shortened-length hands were described as akin to the shape of an amputees torso, a common sight within the bloodier battles of the past, even though this speculation cannot be verified, the concept has a gory ring of truth about it. During World War II the T-shirt was finally issued as regular underwear for all ranks in both the U. S. Army and the Navy. Although the T-shirt was intended since underwear, soldiers performing strenuous fight games or construction work, and especially those based in warmer climes would certainly often wear an uncovered T-shirt. On July the 13th, 1942, the cover story for Life publication features a photo of a soldier within a T-shirt with the text “Air Corps Gunnery School”.