T-shirts: you’ll find them piled up in every clothes cupboard ever since James Dean wowed a whole generation with a simple white tee in the 1950s. There’s hardly a more versatile piece of garment imaginable that makes it easier to change your appearance and add character to your look than the world’s favourite piece of clothing. So what is it that makes a thing as simple as a T-shirt so popular and unique, we wondered…
1. A T-shirt suits any occasion
Never out of season, T-shirts represent a smooth way of wearing at least one layer on any occasion. You wear a T-shirt on a night out, under a jumper in the colder days of winter and as a stand-alone item for others to marvel at during the summer. There are night T-shirts, work T-shirts and workout tees. Most men would even wear a T-shirt under their tuxedo when leading the bride to the altar. And why not go the whole hog and just wear a dinner jacket tee?! French luxury fashion label Hermès shows how T-Shirts can be used to hit to the catwalks of this world. Available at the paltry sum of $91,500, the croc leather tee is worth what could probably get 200 school classes dressed for a year, which reminds us that Spreadshirt’s tees are an absolute steal.
2. T-Shirts are like best friends
Some T-shirts stay with us for life. French fashion journalist Charlotte Brunel even argues that any life story can be told on a T-shirt. When she was little, she would wear a fire brigade T-shirt, then a graduation T-shirt once she finished school, and later bought a “I heart Barcelona“ tee when she did her term abroad. Then there was the T-shirt her mates presented to her on her hens’ night, and the latest T-shirt given to her was on mother’s day. So, in a way, T-shirts do indeed give expression to quite a few of our milestone events. And then you wear them again to remember the good aul‘ times. What’s more, tees facilitate a super easy way of expression. They are the number 1 means of merchandising during football world cups. This comes hardly as a surprise – just try and spot somebody wearing anything other than a T-shirt next time you’re at a football ground.
3. A T-shirt is your billboard
In 2014, Glamour magazine recognised slogan T-shirts as the coolest way of making fashion statements. Even when wearing an unbuttoned blouse or shirt on top, the slogan tee will still stand out and express a highly personalised degree of uniqueness. Stars love printing messages on their tees, and we at Spreadshirt towers fondly remember Drew Barrymore wearing a T-shirt saying Mother of dragons. Standing next to her daughters, she brilliantly demonstrated maternal pride whilst playing on the fame of ”Game of Thrones“ at the same time.
Politicians wear T-shirts with their campaign slogans, and everybody can use a tee as their own custom billboard to express political opinion. Early in 2015, the Charlie Hebdo slogan Je suis Charlie was printed on T-shirts all over the world as an expression of freedom of speech. What a brilliant way to demonstrate solidarity and speak up against violent oppression.
4. From underwear to serial star
What started as a piece of underwear in the 19th century has long been promoted to a publicly worn top. Sailors would take off their trademark blue shirts and would freely wear a knit shirt on board during a time when the word T-shirt didn’t even exist. So, in a way, the image of a free-roaming adventurer has always been attached to what was to become a symbol of a laidback attitude towards life as a whole. It seems only natural that the T-shirt would be recognised as a cult icon one day, and in the 1950s a plain white T-shirt then took the world by storm when Hollywood Stars like Marlon Brando and James Dean were the epitome of coolness. T-shirts have never given up this status ever since, and Don Johnson went on to make tees perfectly socially acceptable when wearing formfitting T-shirts with his suits when appearing as Sonny Crockett in the 1980s cult series Miami Vice. Women magazine ELLE commented back then that a T-shirt is a basic that never goes out of fashion, because it’s always a part of it“.
5. T-shirts – simply the most universal gear
The name is obviously derived from its shape, and the first time it was publically recognised and adopted was by America’s Merriam Webster dictionary in the 1920s. It has since breached all language barriers: in Chinese it’s known as (T恤, T xù) and Japanese as (ティシャツ, tishatsu) – so clearly the sound of the T has been passed on to other languages as well. We also like the fact that there are still regional varieties of the term, and our favourite one is what people in Berlin call it: Nicki. How nice, who wouldn’t want another lovely Nicki?!