It’s hard to imagine a wardrobe without it, but this staple has only been around for 100 years, and for the first decades it was – just like trousers – a men’s only garment. Here’s a brief history lesson on the T-shirt.

In the 1940s, the T-shirt came out from hiding and was promoted from underwear to everyday wear. At the same time it morphed from a menswear item to the unisex garment it is today. Before we tell the story of how the T-shirt became a fashion item, we need to wind back a few decades, to the 1910s. 

The official birth year of the T-shirt is 1913, when it began being distributed to US Navy personnel as something to wear underneath their uniforms. It stayed there until after the Second World War, when US troops returned from the fronts with their undergarments out on top. Its popularity exploded in the 1950s when it was seen on icons and idols, most notably are, of course, Marlon Brando (in A Street Car Named Desire) and James Dean (in Rebel Without A Cause). This is what launched the item’s journey from wardrobe essential to fashion item. And not just for guys. Famous females like Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Greco were involved in introducing the T-shirt as a fashion item to women too. 

After its introduction in the 40s and 50s, the 1960s was the decade the T-shirt stopped being basic and started being a statement-making garment. Members of the hippie movement started wearing tie-dyed T-shirts and made them a part of their uniform together with peace signs, fringed suede jackets, round sunglasses and flared jeans. The 60s was also the last decade T-shirts weren’t at all associated with bands, cities, companies, and everything else that started being printed on them the following decade. The 70s and 80s were the decade that marketing directors and advertisers realised that they could turn people into walking advertisement pillars. One famous example is the 'I Heart NY' T-shirt, which began being sold in 1977. Although the item was, in some aspects, a fashion item it was still mostly something people bulked up with when out grocery shopping. It was during the 90s that it became high fashion, when the jeans and T-Shirt look overtook the runway.

And why wouldn’t the T-shirt become a fashion item? In its basic form, it works as a plain canvas that with the right styling (or prints and patches for that matter) can be transformed into something personal and tell the world about who you are. The T-shirt is so basic that it leaves room for innovation. 

Wondering how to wear it? Anyway you want to of course, but to be honest it does look best tucked into a pair of black or blue jeans.


The perfect t-shirt was modelled by our Danish crush, Laura Julie (Le Management). Hair by Lok Lau (CLM) and makeup by Anya de Tobon (LinkDetails). 

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