Who Started the T-Shirt Trend? A Brief History

by | Apr 7, 2023 | T-shirt

The T-shirt is one of the most versatile and popular clothing items in the world, and it has become an essential part of many people’s wardrobes. But have you ever wondered where the T-shirt trend started? Who first wore a T-shirt, and why did it become so popular? In this article, we will take a brief look at the history of the T-shirt, from its humble beginnings to its status as a fashion icon.

The origins of the T-shirt can be traced back to the late 19th century, when the US Navy issued white cotton undershirts to its sailors as part of their uniforms. These undershirts were made from lightweight cotton and had a simple design, with short sleeves and a crew neck. They were called “bachelor undershirts” because they were worn by unmarried men.

The T-shirt got its name because of its shape, which resembled the letter T. It was not until the 1920s that the T-shirt began to be worn as a stand-alone garment. This was thanks to Hollywood, where actors started wearing T-shirts as part of their on-screen costumes. The T-shirt quickly became popular among young men, who appreciated its comfort and simplicity.

T-shirt became a popular garment for athletes

During the 1930s, the T-shirt became a popular garment for athletes, especially for those participating in sports like football, basketball, and baseball. The T-shirt was also worn by soldiers during World War II, as it provided a lightweight and comfortable undergarment.

Elvis Presley and James Dean wearing T-shirts

The popularity of the T-shirt continued to grow in the 1950s, thanks in part to the rise of rock and roll. Musicians like Elvis Presley and James Dean were often seen wearing T-shirts, and this helped to cement the garment’s status as a symbol of youth and rebellion. The T-shirt also became a popular souvenir item, with tourists buying T-shirts with the names of their favorite destinations printed on them.

In the 1960s, the T-shirt became a canvas for political and social messages. The tie-dye T-shirt, which was created by hippies and other counterculture groups, became a symbol of peace and love. T-shirts with slogans and political messages became a popular way for people to express their views on issues like civil rights and the Vietnam War.

The rise of designer T-shirts

The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of designer T-shirts, as fashion designers started using the T-shirt as a platform for their designs. This led to the creation of high-end T-shirts made from luxury fabrics like silk and cashmere, and adorned with elaborate prints and embroidery. The designer T-shirt became a status symbol, worn by the rich and famous.

In the 1990s, the T-shirt became a staple of streetwear fashion, with brands like FUBU and Rocawear producing T-shirts that were popular with hip-hop fans. The T-shirt also became popular among skateboarders and surfers, who wore T-shirts with the logos of their favorite brands.

Today, the T-shirt remains one of the most popular clothing items in the world. It is worn by people of all ages and backgrounds, and it continues to be a canvas for self-expression and creativity. From its humble beginnings as a military undershirt to its current status as a fashion icon, the T-shirt has come a long way in the past century.

The T-shirt trend started as a simple undershirt worn by sailors in the US Navy. Over time, it evolved into a stand-alone garment worn by Hollywood actors, athletes, musicians, and counterculture groups. Today, the T-shirt is a staple of fashion, worn by people all over the world. Its evolution is a testament to the power of clothing to reflect social and cultural.

The Evolution of Graphic T-Shirts: A History of Self-Expression and Rebellion

Graphic T-shirts have become a staple in fashion over the years, with their bold designs and unique messages. The history of graphic T-shirts can be traced back to the 1950s, when they were first introduced as a means of self-expression.

Graphic T-shirts

In the early days of graphic T-shirts, they were primarily used as a way for businesses to promote their brand or product. It wasn’t until the 1960s that T-shirts with graphics and slogans became popular among young people, as a way to express their opinions on social and political issues.

One of the earliest examples of graphic T-shirts being used for political expression was during the Vietnam War. Anti-war protesters wore T-shirts with slogans like “Make Love, Not War” and “War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things,” which became iconic symbols of the anti-war movement.

T-shirts became more mainstream

During the 1970s, the popularity of graphic T-shirts continued to grow, with the rise of the punk rock movement. Bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols often wore T-shirts with provocative slogans and images, which helped to cement the T-shirt as a symbol of rebellion and non-conformity.

In the 1980s, graphic T-shirts became more mainstream, with brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi using T-shirts to promote their products. However, independent designers and artists also began to create their own graphic T-shirts, with unique designs and messages.


The 1990s saw the rise of streetwear, with brands like Stüssy and FUBU producing graphic T-shirts that were popular with hip-hop fans. Skateboard and surf brands like Quiksilver and Vans also embraced graphic T-shirts, with designs featuring their logos and images related to the sport.


Graphic T-shirts continue to be a popular fashion item, with a wide range of designs and messages. They are often used to promote causes or events, as well as to express personal style and identity.

In conclusion, the history of graphic T-shirts can be traced back to the 1950s, when they were primarily used for promotional purposes. Over time, they evolved into a means of self-expression and a symbol of rebellion, with designers and artists creating unique designs and messages. Today, graphic T-shirts continue to be a popular fashion item, reflecting the ever-changing trends and tastes of society.

by Daniel

CEO of byDaccas. He is a guy with several interests, such as longboarding, skateboarding, urban clothing; he especially likes t-shirts and hoodies with original and eye-catching designs. He can often be found at live music venues, skating around the city with his children, at exhibitions of emerging and underground artists."

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