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The history of the shirt

Published : 06/28/2017 17:32:54
Categories : All , Product

The history of the shirt

We are a fancy shirts company, so we would like to talk a little about the shirt’s history, and the different uses it had along

Although in Spain we call it “camiseta”, in other parts of the world has other names, “playera” in Mexico, “franela” in Venezuela, “polera” in Chile, “remera” in Argentina, “t-shirt” in English due to its shape of “T”…Independently of the name, everybody has some, because nowadays there is a huge shirt variety in every type of colour, shape, thematic…

Among its many uses they are used to do sport, sleep, work, going out at night… But before been a fashion icon, it had many uses depending of the period, and some are very surprising:

- It is said that in ancient Egypt existed a similar just one piece garment.

- The soldiers in the Middle Age used a kind of inside shirt to avoid chaffings armour.

- The nobles to avoid the sweat staining their impeccable suits. In the XVIII century the French merchant sailors used a stripped shirt to be founded in case of falling to the sea.

- In the XIX century was used for the most humble workers as farmers, miners, shipyards…

- In factories people worked in shirt but it was forbidden to go to the street without covering it.

In 1904 the Cooper Underwear Company started an important marketing campaign to popularize the shirt: ““no safety pins, no buttons, no needle, no thread”, they sold a long-lasting garment, comfortable and as it had no buttons it wouldn’t be necessary being able to sew.

In 1913 the European nobles were the ones who started to use them as underwear not to stain their suits in sweat. The European soldiers designed a cotton white short-sleeve shirt to make the soldiers more comfortable during the hot and damp summer in Europe.

In the First World War, the American soldiers were surprised by the comfort of the underwear used by Europeans, as the Americans used wool underwear. It’s thought that in this way the shirt arrived in USA. At first this shirts were white, but due to its high visibility the soldiers dyed them with natural dyes like coffee. As soon as they came back from the war, the shirt became the star garment at home.

At the end of 1930, companies like Hanes, Sears y Fruit of the Loom, started timidly to commercialize them as items of clothing and not as underwear. After the war, the soldiers used parts of the uniform as items of clothing, specially the shirt because of its comfort.  And in the movies actors like Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar named Desire” and James Dean in “Rebel without a Cause” made it more fashionable. The first promotional shirt was the one which publicized the movie The Wizard of Oz. This is the shirt’s origin as a marketing product.

In the Second World War a survey was made to the soldiers when they enlisted, about how they would like the shirt, speaking about comfort, sweat, appearance… And in that way the American Navy created the “tank top” to include it in the uniform.

The first shirt with a printed message in it was made in 1948, for a New York’s governor campaign. The shirt was converted into a marketing article, which arrived to everyone, becoming a fantastic publicity mean, and the expression of ideas and feelings. They started to be commercialized with some corporate logotype, commemorating events (like Olympic Games or a concert), funny drawings, music bands and soloists.

This inspired the company Disney’s marketing genius and they started to print quotations and simply designs in shirts to sell them as souvenirs.

In 1959 the plastisol inks were invented and it was one of the first revolutions in Shirt’s industry. As of today they are still in use.

In the 60es the hippies started to create shirts in psychedelic colours. Also, rock bands like Rolling Stones started to promote themselves by distributing shirts with their name, logo, messages, drawings and all kind of designs. Afterwards came the famous transfer paper to print the shirt by sticking the drawing with the iron, and next the lithographic transfer or screen.

In XX century the digital direct print arrives, remarkable since it’s a totally digital end technologic process. This is the most ecological method as the inks are made from water and there is no waste.

In 1962 Christian Dior elevated it to the high fashion category. In the 70es Yves Saint Laurent made a fashion show consisted on shirts with his logo and drew the attention of the most elegant ladies in Europe. At the end of the 80es, the Spanish designer Adolfo Dominguez dressed Don Johnson in the Miami Vice series with a shirt, getting out of the uncomfortable suit without losing elegance.

Nowadays and with the boom of the internet, a great number of online shops exist which offer this kind of garments, of which designs are made in a personalized way.

The shirt is in general made of cotton or polyester, or the mix of both. Although currently there are many materials as nylon, elastane...

Because of its comfort they are used to do sport, but until a few years ago, cotton shirts were used. However, the cotton’s great disadvantage is its high capacity of absorbing water and it doesn’t emit the accumulated humidity with speed, so the soaked shirt weighs double, and the risk of suffering chafings increases in a considerable way. All these inconvenient are solved with technical shirts. Two points in favour are comfort and lightness. Thanks to its good breathability, this kind of shirts doesn’t end up soak and they expulse their own sweat, and specially, there’s no need to iron them.

The way of capturing the logo, shield, name, quote or what you want is varied, serigraph (the traditional), embroidery, transfer, or sublimation, which is the one we use in Hoopoe Running for our shirts.

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