History of the T-Shirt

James Dean Ammonoosuc Goods

Today the t-shirt is an iconic piece of the American wardrobe. The design itself is not as old as you may think. The word t-shirt officially entered the Webster Dictionary in 1920. Today you can find the t-shirt on the backs of just about everyone. In this article, you will discover how the t-shirt became a popular staple in almost every subculture of clothing.

In the 1800s people wore union suits that were one-piece underwear. Later people separated this suit into two pieces. The upper part was longer and tucked into the lower, traditionally. The shirts were widely used by the Navy but could only be worn with pants in extremely warm environments with permission. Like many other pieces of menswear, the shirt slowly transitioned into civilian-ware as men came home from the military. Initially, these shirts were still used as underwear or when performing manual labor. 

Navy T-shirt Ammonoosuc Goods

During the Great Depression, the t-shirt became an affordable alternative to work uniforms allowing men to work comfortably while still being clothed. In 1947 Marlon Brando performed in a screen test wearing only a plain white t-shirt. At the time, the t-shirt was still considered to be underwear and Marlon was thought widely to be performing in his underwear. In 1955 James Dean wore a plain white t-shirt in the movie Rebel Without A Cause. These influential men helped to popularized the t-shirt in everyday America. 

By the 1960s the t-shirt became popular with people in their teens. Brands began to plaster images and logos on the shirts, creating a walking billboard. The earliest screen prints date back to the 1940s and were featured on the cover of LIFE magazine.

Life Magazine T shirt Ammonoosuc Goods

Today t-shirts range in price and build construction. Most people are probably familiar with Hanes t-shirts that come in a multi-pack. These t-shirts are cheaply made and are generally of scratchy cotton. The next category is t-shirts that are made in countries with higher standards for production and use higher quality cotton. The last category is made up of exotic fabrics and using processes that produce a quality shirt at a price that most can not justify. 

The t-shirts that we start with at Ammonoosuc Goods are of the second group. They are made of 100% cotton, in the USA, by Los Angeles Apparel. The number one compliment we get on our t-shirts is how incredibly soft to the touch they are.

Ammonoosuc Goods Logo T shirt

Wrapping it up, there is a t-shirt for everyone nowadays. The choice will primarily depend on your desired use for the t-shirt. Many people still use t-shirts as underwear, while others wear something that represents their personality. If you are looking for a t-shirt that is incredibly soft, made in the USA, and is locally inspired, check out Ammonoosuc Goods. For more information on how and why we started to make t-shirts check out our ABOUT US page.


Co-owner of Ammonoosuc Goods  

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