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The T-Shirt as a High Fashion Statement

Posted on March 24 2017

The T-Shirt as a High Fashion Statement

We bet you can’t answer the following two questions about your wardrobe. How many t-shirts do you own? How many do you think you’ve owned in your life? (Can anyone answer that last one?)

Even if you don’t regularly wear t-shirts, whether to wash the car or hit the club, you probably own more than you think. And there’s a good chance that you have at least one that, based on its design, can be worn as much to make a fashion statement as for the comfort that made t-shirts famous.

But how did the t-shirt make the transition from its humble beginnings to the runways of New York, Paris and Milan?

According to Wikipedia, the t-shirt as we know it today began life as an undergarment for U.S. sailors during the Spanish-American War of 1898 to 1913.

But after that, the story gets pretty boring. Printed t-shirts don’t show up until the 1940s, and even then, they said little else then ‘Navy’ or ‘Phys. Ed. Dept.’

T-Shirts Finally Make a Statement

If you could point to a single t-shirt and said ‘that’s the one that changed everything’, it would probably be the iconic Che Guevara lithograph t-shirt. Suddenly t-shirts could make powerful statements about the wearer, without actually saying anything.

And since the gate to self-expression opened, there’s nowhere that t-shirts haven’t gone. Most recently, that’s included top fashion runways around the world.  Most famously, in 2015, upstart fashion house Vetements sent a man down its Paris catwalk with a yellow DHL t-shirt, black pants and an open black shirt.

The DHL t-shirt became a must-have fashion item of early 2016 and Vetements sold its entire first-run, despite a price tag north of $300 for a t-shirt that could not be distinguished from the t-shirt that DHL themselves sell on their own site for $7.00.

Most major menswear designers now include at least a small line of t-shirts in their offerings each season, many commanding prices of $800 or more. So why not pop into your closet right now and do an inventory of all the t-shirts you have. You can make quite a statement.