Once upon
a time the T-shirt

Nowadays, the t-shirt is considered as the most comfortable universal basic. The famous T-shirt has sometimes poorly known origins of all. In just a few years, it has become more than just a standard garment out of our closets. Among its many functions, it is today an art object, help with personal expression, or even a communication support.

From its appearance in the 1920s, the T-shirt was worn as an underwear and not as a separate piece. Nevertheless, its exact origins are debatable. Some give it European roots, while others think it was in the USA that it was created for the first time. One thing is for sure is that the t-shirt that we are billions to wear every day, is a direct descending evolved version of the 'Union Suit' worn daily in the 19th century. In France, the garment considered as the first t-shirt in history, is undoubtedly, the Tunic of Saint Louis (King Louis IX) dating from the 13th century. This relic, ancestor of the T-shirt is stored nowadays at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

His name? He keeps it from his T-shape, hence his pronunciation in English: phonetically 'tee' and 'shirt'. But again, many stories related to the attribution of this name are told: between the 'Takel Shirt' and the 'Tea-shirt' (worn by staff to serve the tea to the bourgeoisie).

The appearance of the t-shirt:

English version:
At the base used by the military as underwear, the t-shirt was worn in order to avoid any friction caused by their uniforms. It was then, under the reign of Queen Victoria, that the T-shirt became an official sailor outfit. It would appear that The Royal Navy wanted sailors to be presentable in the presence of the Queen during her visits.

The American version:
The t-shirt has become the iconic American garment. And for good reason, it was not until the Second World War that American soldiers landed and stung this fashion to the soldiers of the Royal Navy. According to another hypothesis (and not to mention a European loan), American troops fighting in Europe were forced to wear the t-shirt, which became a regulatory garment during the 20th century. Finally, once the arrival of G.I on European soil in 1943, the craze for this t-shirt became universal and engendered massive production of the model from around the world.

Successful Americanization!
However, these are Americans, from the '40s onwards, who are going to totally democratize the t-shirt for a fashion article in their own right. As a real phenomenon, the t-shirt is highly publicized , and is the front cover of magazines like Life, finding itself in the top of sales.

However, as usual, it is the fervor of American cinema that will play a determining role in the popularization of the t-shirt. Mythical films have propelled actors such as Marlon Brando and James Dean into icons and influencers. Since the release of the films A Streetcar Named Desire and Rebel Without a Cause in the 50s, the t-shirt has become the favorite garment for a trendy and casual look.

A virility effect ensued, groups started the movement like the Teddy boys who dictated the fashion of the time; Hippies and their messages of peace, many years later ...
Real fashion phenomenon, completely revolutionary, which will mark for generations, the dress code of millions of people.

Fiche technique :

La fabrication du t-shirt

The T-shirt is a short-sleeved undershirt, usually made of organic materials such as cotton, but also polyester fibers. In the shape of T-Type shirt, the t-shirt comes in different models like long-sleeved t-shirts, turtlenecks, or even hoodies.

The material and the form : the T-shirt is made in different ways: knit, jersey, interlock, which gives it a certain resistance as well as elasticity in the form.

The material and the form : the T-shirt is made in different ways: knit, jersey, interlock, which gives it a certain resistance as well as elasticity in the form.

Quelques chiffres sur la fabrication du T-shirt en coton

L’empreinte eau pour fabriquer un t-shirt

Nearly <2 billion t-shirts are sold each year worldwide

The design of a single t-shirt requires close to 300 grams of cotton yarn, which is about 1.3kg of treated and cleaned cotton.


La production du coton pour la fabrication d’un T-shirt :

  • Près de 2 milliards de t-shirts sont vendus chaque année dans le monde
  • 809 kilos de coton par seconde est produit dans le monde.
  • La conception d’un seul t-shirt requiert près de 300 grammes de fil de coton, ce qui représente environ 1.3kg de coton traité et nettoyé.
  • 1,3 kg de coton représentent pour un cueilleur 400 capsules de coton récoltées pesant chacune entre 2,5 et 4 g.
  • Pour obtenir ces 400 capsules, il faut en moyenne 28 arbustes et 14 m2 de terre.

Le t-shirt en coton bio, la France ne produisant que très peu de coton, il est intéressant de découvrir l’origine du coton qui permet de fabriquer les t-shirts.

Dans le textile, une production plus responsable se développe, permettant de réduire l’impact environnemental avec des économies d’énergie et une diminution de la pollution ainsi que d’améliorer les conditions de travail dans les pays producteurs de coton.

La mode bio ou la mode écoresponsable se développe pour s’ouvrir au grand public.

Infographie sur la mode bio par Kelcom :

The t-shirt evolutions

The t-shirt as we know it has gone through many steps before becoming the reference garment. In the course of its history the t-shirt will know multiple developments.

Indeed, the technical evolution of the t-shirt, particularly with regard to its composition, will increase over time. This, in correlation with the technical progress of manufacturing the T-shirt.

Moreover, the cultural evolution of the t-shirt is also noticeable. Considered one of the triggers of pop rock culture, the T-shirt will influence billions of people through its media power.

The 2.0 web T-shirt

Faced with the evolution of the digital era, the T-shirt knows another form of development. Made easier to access on Internet than in stores, the T-shirt is the best-selling item on the net. Buying or creating a t-shirt is a breeze for Internet users, who can choose from millions of offers and product references.

In addition, thanks to its price and its often standardized production, partnerships between creators and commercial sites are created, offering the opportunity for Internet users to sell their personalized T-shirts. Just like our Deal Dealer on Tunetoo.co.uk

Evolution of marking techniques

Since the 1990s, the quality of the T-shirt continues to evolve thanks to the technical advances made in the marking methods.

Customization techniques are multiple, they follow specific steps with advantages and disadvantages relating to each of them : t-shirt materials, chosen colors, patterns, numbers of manufactured pieces

T-shirt printing is done in flocking, sublimation, serigraphy, and embroidery.

All these types of markings are perfected thanks to processes and high definition machines, which allow an optimal rendering quality. Finally, it is now possible to combine several marking techniques on one T-shirt.