Custom Shirt Printing

The t-shirt first appeared in 1913 as an undershirt for servicemen in the United States Navy to wear under their uniforms.  It soaked up sweat and made the uniform a bit more comfortable.

During World War II, Sailors and Marines stationed in hot and/or tropical environments began wearing their t-shirts while doing messy work.  Once again, they felt cooler and it kept their uniforms clean.

After the war, veterans continued to wear their t-shirts as casual wear.  In 1951, When Marlon Brando wore a t-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire, the look caught on further.  Women found him attractive and men emulated his ruggedness.  Brando’s t-shirt clad image remains iconic even today.  James Dean deserves credit, too.  In 1955, he wore only a t-shirt in Rebel Without a Cause, the film that made him one of the most popular stars in cinema even today.  After the film’s release, t-shirt sales soared.

The Custom T-Shirt Appears

Also in the 1950s, the custom t-shirts and shirt printing in Brisbane made its debut. Various Florida companies began embellishing t-shirts with resort titles and names of tourist sites.  In 1959, screen printing appeared.  It involved pushing ink through a stencil or mesh.   In 1960, Michael Vasilantone developed the multi-color rotary press that’s very much like what is currently used.  Today, it’s common to print thousands of shirts a day.

In the late 1960’s, the t-shirt turned into a way to express oneself, protest issues, and display popular art.  Warren Dayton, a psychedelic artist, for example, created political t-shirts featuring Cesar Chavez (a civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association), political cartoons, and other social images of the time.

Also in the 1960s, the tie dying process became popular as did embroidery, letter pressing, and heat transfers.

Rock and Roll and Athletic Custom Shirts

In the late 1960s and continuing into the 1970s, custom print t-shirts displaying Rock and Roll bands became fashionable, as well as a very lucrative business.   Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd t-shirts sold well when they first came out and continue to sell well today.  And, as MTV and videos caught on, so did custom t-shirts promoting pop artists.

Professional athletes and teams also got into the act and began making huge profits by adding their likenesses to custom screen printed t-shirts.  These t-shirts remain popular today, too.

The 80s

In the 1980s, logos began appearing on custom t-shirts.  Nike, Adidas, and Guess started producing t-shirts with just their symbols.  The trend continues and even designers have joined in.  One can sport a custom t-shirt displaying the logos of Michal Kors, Coach, and Tommy Hilfiger, just to name a few.

The 1990s and The New Millennium

As the new century approached, custom t-shirts from the 60s and 70s reappeared and became stylish again.  As well, designers recreated the looks and cashed in.

Custom T-Shirts Today

The custom t-shirt is more popular today than ever.  It’s basically a staple in most every person’s wardrobe, be they a child, an adolescent, or an adult.  Some custom t-shirts have messages, such as “don’t quit” and “keep calm.”  Others are much more racy.  Essentially, a t-shirt can say anything you want and people have them customized for any and all occasions, such as birthday parties, reunions, office celebrations, bridal showers, bachelor parties…  The list is endless.

The most popular custom t-shirt of all time is the “I ♥ NY” t-shirt.  Designer Milton Glaser drew the logo on a napkin and it went on to become the most worn t-shirt in history.

The t-shirt has been popular for over a century.  Without doubt, it will go on being popular for centuries to come.