“T-shirt” was officially included in Weber’s dictionary in 1920 (In print publications, it can be traced back to the earlier This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald), and it has been popular for a whole hundred years. But have you ever thought about how T-shirts, together with jeans, became the most iconic fashion essentials all around the world?
From workers’ daily wear to fashion essentials.
The shirts, especially white T-shirts, first appeared as the “union suit” for workers and later as the uniform of the US Navy. It usually has a lightweight short sleeve with a white cotton undervest.
But the working-class people were not really impressed until the T-shirt was brought to the screen, such as Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and James Dean in 1955’s “Rebel Without a Cause”. That is how T-shirts became the symbol of rebels and working-class vigor and were later adopted by the wealthier classes under the influence of celebrities.
How did T-shirts become the “Silent opposition”?
A BBC article titled “The T-shirt: A rebel with a cause” describes how the T-shirts are associated with rebelism. People used to wear T-shirts back then as an undergarment beneath some “proper” clothes, but when Brando and Dean wore T-shirts as a single fashion piece, it went against the norms and is more like a statement to disrupt traditions.
In addition to that, the content printed on the T-shirt symbolizes the rebellious idea itself. People can make a statement on T-shirts in any social movement, be it opposition to the Vietnam War, the rise of rock bands, the punk movement, feminism, environmentalism, the LGBT movement, or Brexit.
An exhibition at the Museum of Fashion and Textiles in London in 2018 exhibited T-shirts that represent how different social groups live their life and the social and economical background of their times.
How to DIY your unique T-shirts?
If you are a designer of T-shirts or simply want to design for yourself for fun. There are various tools for you to explore and DIY your own T-shirts.
Use stock photos to brainstorm ideas.
There are some free stock photo sites for you to explore your design ideas. You can even enter the text or any keywords on your mind to search for photos that can help you in your T-shirt design. You can search for some PNG photos, clip art, icons, and memes with transparent backgrounds and piece all of them together using photo editing software.
Use image background remover to personalize your design.
If you want to use your own photos or any inspiration you have found in your daily life, simply upload them to an online background remover tool. You can delete or change the background color of any image. Or simply use your portrait with the background removed for your T-shirt design!
Create cartoon T-shirts using your own image
Don’t think it’s cool enough? Try uploading your photos to an online cartoon tool. Upload the original picture – choose the style – one click to finish. Automatically turn yourself into a superhero like Marvel’s Avengers or a hot-blooded genre like 《ONE PIECE／ワンピース》.
Using stylized Chinese fonts on your T-shirts
Still not satisfied and want to integrate some chic elements? You can generate some unique and stylized Chinese fonts in a variety of styles. What is amazing is that you can upload some of your English writings to generate Chinese characters based on your calligraphy style in English. This Cool Chinese Font Generator uses machine learning and AI technology to customize based on the information and data generated by users.
Finally, get your T-shirt digitally printed. All prints on personalized t-shirts are made using the Direct-to-Garment printing (DTG) process, which is widely used in e-commerce customization. Then you can wear your customized T-shirts, give them to your friends and family members as gifts, or sell them on Amazon, Shopify, and other marketplaces. T-shirts can be a million-dollar business if your design is one of a kind. Just like fashion trends in the past, people always like to present their “rebel” image from time to time.