Tug is Five. The Undershirt is 100 Years Old

June 9, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

About a month ago I celebrated (not really) UndershirtGuy.com’s five-year birthday. That is — five years of blogging here! In dog years, that would make me a very youthful 35 years old (:

Continuing on with the festivities, by way of tshirtbirthday.com, I recently learned that the Undershirt is celebrating it’s 100th birthday this year! If you can believe this, it was back in 1913 when the US Navy issued crew neck undershirts (t-shirts) to be worn under uniforms.

Thanks to the creative folks over at CustomInk.com, who put together the website above, we get to learn about some really interesting milestones in the evolution of the t-shirt.

T-Shirt Evolution

  • 1920: The word “T-shirt” is officially added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The definition of T-shirt is a collarless short-sleeved or sleeveless usually cotton undershirt; also: an outer shirt of similar design.
  • 1932: Students steal T-shirts from their own football team when the University of Southern California prints “Property of USC” on the athletes’ workout clothes.
  • 1934: Men everywhere follow Clark Gable’s lead in It Happened One Night. After revealing his bare chest, T-shirt sales plummet 75%.
  • 1938: Sears introduces a T-shirt for less than a quarter. Known as the “gob” or sailor shirt, it is proclaimed to be either an outer garment or an undershirt.
  • 1942: The Air Corps Gunnery School logo is featured on one of the earliest printed T-shirts for the July 13thcover of LIFE magazine.
  • 1948: Army follows the Navy by introducing the “Quarter Sleeve” shirt, keeping the boys in the Pacific theater cool in the tropical heat.
  • 1951: The T-shirt gains popularity as an outer garment after heartthrob Marlon Brando wears one in A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • 1959: The invention of a durable, stretchy, and comfortable new ink, Plastisol, opens the door for more designs and screen-printing on T-shirts.
  • 1977: In an almost eureka moment, designer Milton Glaser sketches “I NY” on a napkin and the logo appears on T-shirts soon after.
  • 1990: Inspired by grunge rockers, men wear old, unbuttoned flannel shirts over faded, un-washed T-shirts. This quickly becomes the fashion trend of the ‘90s.
  • 1991: The Hypercolor T-shirt, created in the ‘80s, reaches its all-time peak selling more than $50 million worth of shirts in a four-month period.
  • 2000: Two college friends start CustomInk in their apartment on a garish green sofa.  The site quickly becomes the preferred site for designing custom T-shirts online.
  • 2005: Fashion forward and knowing no gender, the deep V takes America by storm. From the Jersey Shore to Malibu, men everywhere are showing a bit more skin.

Photos (Courtesy of CustomInk.com)

1913

Picture 1 of 28

US Navy issues crewneck T-shirts to be worn under uniforms. An American icon is born. Pictured: Exercises in North Africa, 1945

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Category: News

About the Author ()

Tug is the world's undershirt expert. He is also one of the most knowledgeable individuals on sweat management solutions, men's shapewear, grooming, and new fabric technologies. Got a question? Visit Tug's contact page and hit him up.

Comments (2)

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  1. No Noexactly

    says:

    “1990: Inspired by grunge rockers, men wear old, unbuttoned flannel shirts over faded, un-washed T-shirts. This quickly becomes the fashion trend of the ‘90s.”
    Gimme a break ~ everyone except high school kids and hobos washed their T-shirts. They may not have come out spotless but they smelled fine.

    • Tug says:

      i didn’t write that (: the folks over at custom ink did.

      i’m with you though, why would anyone purposely not wash their t-shirt, even if you wash it in the sink and hang it dry, it so easy.

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