A Brief History of the T-shirt

A Brief (and interesting) History of the T-shirt

How the heck did a simple undergarment turn into the most dominant piece of clothing in the world? Well, there’s many people we’d have to credit, but it all began with the miners and dockworkers in the 19th century. These guys used to wear long underwear and started cutting them in half to deal with the hot weather.



Then, in 1904, the Cooper Underwear Company started selling them without buttons to bachelors with no wives or sewing skills.

In 1913, the U.S. Navy required them as a part of their uniforms. Within a few years, guys started wearing them to keep their “nice” shirts from getting dirty. Soon, because they were so easy to clean and inexpensive, young boys began wearing them to play in.

In the 1950’s, Marlon Brando in a Streetcar Named Desire and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, wore a white t-shirt in their roles, and t-shirt sales exploded to over $180 million and became fashionable as a stand alone garment.



In the 1960’s, t-shirts continued to rise in popularity for self-expression, ads, protests, souvenirs and political statements.

Today, the t-shirt market in the U.S. is $514 million and growing.