Short T-Shirt History: From Undershirts to Heat Transfer

Did you know that the t-shirt first appeared on the stage of history in 1913 in the US Navy? Its name at that time was athlete and it was specially prepared for the navy. It was not in the screen printing scene until 1959 when the plastisol ink was invented. Below, we've shared some of the t-shirt's colorful history in the form of a timeline.

1913: Navy - T-shirts are designed for the US Navy to be worn under their uniforms.

1920: Dictionary - The word "T-shirt" was added to Merriam-Webster's dictionary.

1932: College Athletics - "Ownership of USC" is added to football training shirts at the University of Southern California. The students loved the T-shirts so much that they started stealing from their teams. The school named the T-shirts one by one to prevent such crimes.

1938: Sears - T-shirts were introduced at Sears, a popular retailer, and sold for 24 cents. These T-shirts later became known as sailor’s t-shirts or "gobs".

1942: Life Magazine - One of the oldest printed t-shirts appeared in LIFE magazine; Air Corps Gunnery School logo.

1948: Politics - The first political T-shirt was created to support Governor Thomas E. Dewey in the presidential election. It had the slogan "Chew with Dewey" on it.

1950: Mickey Mouse - Tropix Togs, a Miami-based clothing company, buys the rights to become the exclusive seller of Mickey Mouse t-shirts.

1959: Screen printing - Plastisol ink was invented and T-shirts were screen printed.

1969: Batik - Batik-dyed t-shirts became popular at Woodstock as a representation of individuality. Originally used to create batik, Rit paint was primarily used to add color to curtains and linens.

1977: I ♥NY - The "I ♥NY" shirts appeared after the creator Milton Glaser drew the logo on the napkin.

1984: Protests - "Frankie Say Relax" is a shirt made to protest the banning of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's song "Relax" on BBC radio. These shirts were made by company owner Paul Morley.

1990: Hard Rock Café - Hard Rock Café created a special t-shirt line on each shirt named after the city where the restaurant is located. Many travelers have started collecting these t-shirts from all over the world for their collections.

Today, tailored t-shirts are very popular and an essential part of everyday life. Aviva Dallas provides opportunities that make it easier to create a custom t-shirt business while offering different possibilities to implement your heat transfers.

Back to blog