Everything You Need to Know About T-Shirts in 1000 Words

The History of the T-Shirt in 1000 Words

The History of T-Shirts in 320 Words

One-piece “union suits” are cut into separate top and bottom pieces. The top part of the union suit is long enough to be tucked into the waistband of bottoms. Miners and stevedores use the T-Shirt to combat the hot environment. The United States Navy makes the T-Shirt standard issue at around 1918 and are used as undergarments worn under uniforms. The T-Shirt appears in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary for the first time in 1922. During the Great Depression the T-Shirt becomes the default garment for many workers. The Wizard of Oz releases the first promotional T-Shirt in 1939. Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey was the first to put a political slogan on a T-Shirt and it said “Dew-It With Dewey.” Charlie Brown first appears in a T-Shirt in 1950. Following World War II it is common to see veterans wearing T-Shirts with their trousers as casual clothing. Marlon Brando turns the T-Shirt into a fashion statement after wearing one in A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951. In 1955, James Dean appears in Rebel Without A Cause in a white T-Shirt making it the symbol of rebellious youth.

Tank tops, A-Shirts (wife beaters), muscle shirts, scoop shirts and v-necks are developed as variants to the T-Shirt. Plastisol ink is developed in 1959 allowing variety in T-Shirt designs. Screen printing becomes the most popular form of T-Shirt printing. Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara graces the T-Shirt of many activitsts in the 1960’s. John Sebastian and Janis Joplin popularize tie-dyed shirts. Jacqueline Bisset appears in the movie The Deep in 1977 and is seen surfacing wearing a white T-Shirt and a bikini underneath – the Wet T-Shirt is born. Thermochromatic dyes are introduced in the 80’s and change color when subjected to heat. In the 90’s, Hip Hop afficianados wear T-Shirts that extend to their knees. Threadless revolutionizes the way T-Shirts are designed and sold online in the 2000’s with their crowd sourcing model of business.

Charlie Brown

Co-Tee TV Facebook Fan Page

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WatchTeeV Launched

WatchTeeV is the newest site by the same guy that brought us The Art of Apparel. This brand new site is dedicated to collecting and posting videos that are all about the T-Shirt. Topics range from professionalism, to screen printing to preparing designs. It’s a great place to find videos focused on the tee industry. Although the selection is a bit sparse at the moment, we can expect to see the number of videos rise as the site takes off.

The idea is the brainchild of the members at the tee forum, Emptees, who discussed such a site during an online chat session. Hillman also known as MadeByMas on Emptees, took the idea and ran with it and was was able to do a great job on the new site. Although still in beta mode, users can submit video links that the admin can review and then post on the site. Hopefully I can add some of my videos on there in the future! Check out WatchTeeV! 

watch-tee-v

Howard The Duck

This tee by Garret Egles has been getting a lot of attention over at the Emptees forum. The tee has a huge print of that Marvel character turned movie star in the 1980’s, Howard The Duck. From the preview, the print looks huge and has a back print as well that is just as huge. The back has a line taken from the 1986 film, “On my planet we don’t say die, we say kill!” 

It’s Alive has this shirt available for presale and it is going for $30.00 – a hefty price but you do get that huge front and back print. The front consists of 5 colors and the back has 3. Another thing to note is that this tee is super limited and they are only printing 36 of these on tees and 16 of these on tanks. They will be available in Mint, Raspberry, Sunshine and Grass colored tees. 

Howard The Duck

Oh and if you’re scratching your head wondering who Howard The Duck is, then here’s a clip from the George Lucas produced flop turned cult favorite.

The Importance of Branding

Emptees user Quest has posted an insightful forum post titled The Importance of Branding and It’s Impact On Your Business. If you’re planning on starting your own brand or line of tees then this is an excellent resource that you should definitely checkout. 

The Elegant Scoundrel

And to no surprise, the author of the article runs his own line of tees, The Elegant Scoundrel. He has put together an excellent 1st series of tees that jive well together. You can find his full line of tees at his online store. 

Here are excerpts from his Importance of Branding post:

1. Have a solid concept behind your brand.

“You know the main reason it is so hard for tee shirt companies to actually make it big? Because EVERYONE is doing it. Literally, hundreds if not thousands of companies, organizations, and individuals each year make an attempt to create Tees that sell. Most fail. Why you ask? Because the market is flooded with companies that do the EXACT SAME THING. So how do you succeed in an industry that is flooded with the same thing? Differentiate yourself from the masses, by being unique…”

2. Don’t Force Your Name.

“You know the main reason it is so hard for tee shirt companies to actually make it big? Because EVERYONE is doing it. Literally, hundreds if not thousands of companies, organizations, and individuals each year make an attempt to create Tees that sell. Most fail. Why you ask? Because the market is flooded with companies that do the EXACT SAME THING. So how do you succeed in an industry that is flooded with the same thing? Differentiate yourself from the masses, by being unique.”

3. Don’t Unveil your company too early.

“Speaking from personal experience, hold off announcing your presence to the world before you really have anything to show. As tempting as it may be to tell everyone and anyone who will listen that you are now the Supreme Overlord of the Illustrious (INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE), hold off until you have a solid collection of things to keep the public’s attention…”

4. Be passionate about your work.

“If you have a true passion about what you are doing, and where you plan to go, that will be evident to those around you. But don’t just focus on the shirts themselves. Find other nuances of the industry that fascinate and inspire you, and learn as much about those topics as possible. Knowing about the inner workings of the biz and how things are made and presented will not only give you a clearer understanding of the industry you wish to be in, but will also give you things to keep you motivated and keep you inspired when your plain sick of seeing .PSD save files and the same graphic you have been staring at on your monitor for the last week straight…”

Disobey by The Elegant Sqoundrel

TeeFury and Stabb Collaborate for Charity

It’s a great thing whenever people in the tee community help each other out. The people at tee-a-day site TeeFury have teamed up with Stabb Clothing to help raise money for charity. 

In a recent post on the Stabb blog, Stabb founder Ryan Grandmaison, mentioned the recent cancer diagnosis of a good friend and bandmade (Something for Nothing) of his. He has also been posting regular updates about his friend so be sure to check those out on the Stabb blogs.

TeeFury recently reached out to Grandmaison and offered to collaborate with the up-an-coming tee brand to create a tee with the help of the indie tee community. Grandmaison (aka as RustyEight) posted about the collaboration on the Emptees forum:

As most of you know by now, my buddy and guitarist Ben has been fighting Burkitt’s Lymphoma for the past few months and thanks to you guys we’ve raised a bunch of money and some clothes.

Wotto approched me the other day with an idea on how to raise some more, via TeeFury . TeeFury Collab! Alphabet Edition!

What’s the idea? Every designer signs up to design 1 letter (capital). If we have enough people(52) we’ll do both capital and lower case. Keep it at 3 Colors.

The shirt will then go up on TeeFury for sale sometime in in January or February. If you would like to sign up for this huge collab, post the letter you would like. First come first serve. Remember, proceeds will be going to Ben, you will not get paid for it. DEADLINE IS JANUARY 31ST 

If you’re interested, then be sure to check out the forum post. You can sign up for a letter there (there are a couple of letters left as of this posting). Good luck to TeeFury and Stabb with this!

Stabb Me

Stabb Me

The Emptees Top 12 of 2008

Every day Emptees selects a Tee of the Day based on “loves” received by members of the site. From this selection of tees they then go on to select a Tee of the Month. Here are the 12 Tee of the Months for 2008 as seen on Emptees.

If the tee is available for purchase then I’ve added the buy link (just click the image), if not, it’ll bring you directly to the appropriate Emptees page!

The only question left to ask is – who will Tee of the Year? It’s a close race between When Panda’s Attack and Colorblind! Now Ooogle on and enjoy with tea and a nice tee!

December 2008: Sarcaphagross by discordantart

November 2008: Rilla Gorilla – Octopus by discordantart

October 2008: Salt The Wound: Smell The Roses by BrandonHeart

September 2008: Kanye West by Killer Napkins

August 2008: When Panda’s Attack by Jimiyo vs. Collision Theory

July 2008: Eternally, Always, Forever The Sickest Kids by Incarnadine

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My Liver Hates Me

I think I’ve found a new favorite tee and it’s called My Liver Hates Me! The tee, designed by Jon Kruse of Mediocore Clothing, was purchased by Jeff Wolff (better known as pzn in the Emptees forum) and is being sold at none other than myliverhatesme.net! 

Interestingly enough, Jeff set up a Big Cartel store specifically designed for this tee and even purchased a URL to match the tee! I highly doubt that he’ll be starting a line of liver inspired tees (though anything is possible), so kudos to him for going all out on this one!

My Liver Hates Me is currently on sale for the paltry price of $14.00 and if use the codes WOOT, emptees or 15OFF you can get 15% of the already cheap sale price and it will bring the cost down to $11.90. 

New Stabb Store Open

Popular Emptees member, RustyEight, has just launched Stabb on Big Cartel. The first two items that are available for Pre-Sale are Robot Decapitation and Shackles. Both tees are going for $18 and have an estimated ship date of either late November or the first week of December. 

The Emptees Zombie Anniversary Tee

The Emptees Zombie Anniversary Tee has been in the making for the past month. JeffK first suggested on the Emptees forum that Emptees artist collaborate to make a tee filled with zombies. It was such a popular idea that within a few days it was officially endorsed and sponsored by the Emptees staff. 

Long story short, a ton of Emptees designers, including fan favorites like jimmyheartcore, gaunty heavyprints and sittingduck, uploaded their zombie designs. Over 50 different zombie drawings made it onto the anniversary tee. Emptees offered up a Photoshop file and users were allowed to play around with different color combinations for the shirt. The different color schemes were posted and users voted. The following color scheme won and will be printed on silver American Apparel tees. 

“A colossal community collaborative concoction coinciding with our birthday commencement. In other words, a limited edition zombie tee using over 50 drawings by Emptees members.”

Check out the color schemes that didn’t make it here. To see the artwork check out this link. Amd finally, to buy this tee, go here, it’ll ship on November 17, 2008. 

Desired Hearts – A Charitable Business Model

Desired Hearts is the newest fashion startup from Roby Fitzhenry, Creative Director of  Always Creative and Matthew Fruge. They are the latest to join the handful of T-shirt design submission sites that have ongoing contests for cash prizes. The most well known site based on this model is Threadless, however, both Roby and Matt are quick to point out that Desired Hearts has no desire to compete with the Threadless powerhouse. Instead, they plan to have the ongoing contests be a component to the larger plan – to develop a top fashion label by enlisting well-known and established artists and designers, while at the same time making sure that proceeds from profits earned is donated to deserving charities. 

I had the fortunate opportunity to talk to Roby and Matt from Desired Hearts. They talk a bit about how Desired Hearts was founded and how the charitable model was conceived. Matt and Roby also discuss how they are challenging themselves, collectively as a team, to develop a quality driven fashion label. 

Coty: Charity plays a big role in Desired Hearts’ business model. How did the idea of making charity a major component of Desired Hearts come about?

Roby: Matt came to us (Always Creative) with the idea of starting a clothing company that gives to charity. Our entire team became immediately interested and a business deal was struck. The more we thought about the idea, the more we all loved it, which eventually led to us even renaming the idea to Desired Hearts. Our name represents the love that everyone seeks out whether it be from support for your t-shirt design, support of a specific charity or even just the feeling that you’re a part of something greater. Hopefully in the future we can change the way businesses look at philanthropy.

Matt: I don’t remember the exact moment I had the idea. I think it came to be over a period of time thinking about different ways of doing business. The guys and gals at Threadless really pioneered the community driven business model. I didn’t really want Desired Hearts to be another Threadless, but the value of your customers’ feedback before you go into production is priceless. We really want to bring that model to the world of fashion, with custom garments from designers who might not have the resources available to get it done themselves. The charity part was always going to be part of whatever the business became. Like Roby mentioned, the original name was Donor Threads…lol! Looking back, I’m glad they worked their re-branding magic on the name.

Coty: The charity component has changed a bit and you have also elicited input from the Emptees community as to how Desired Hearts should go about “giving” to charities. Explain a bit about how the charity part of Desired Hearts works.

Roby: I love the Emptees community and respect their opinions. Although I’m still a rather new member, we decided to put our questions to the community in hopes of solid feedback. Initially, we were going to just give $2 per shirt to charity, $3 per shirt to the winning designer as well as initial winnings of $500. However, we’ve decided to give $5 per shirt to charity and $500 to the winning designer with the choice to keep the cash or give some or all to a charity of their choice. Everyone needs a little cash sometimes and we respect that. We just hope that as the site grows, the amount of proceeds we give to charities grows with it.

Matt: Ditto!

Coty: The online communities that have developed at Threadless and Design By Humans seems to be a driving force behind the growth of those brands. How do you plan to build the community at Desired Hearts and do you have any plans for utilizing the various social networking tools (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc) available to build you community?

Roby: Great question. One thing we feel is very different about Desired Hearts is that we are really trying to develop a fashion label. Although we will have ongoing contests, we’re also seeking out and commissioning top designers to collaborate with our in-house team. We already have two amazing designers lined up for collaboration so stay tuned for the news! We will also continue to be as fully integrated in social media platforms as we can. We’re on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter and will be expanding to others soon. Our fingers are crossed that people realize that you can support a fashion label and the world around you simultaneously.

Matt: The Social Media movement, or whatever you want to call it, has really kind of taken the place of what T.V. used to represent in people’s lives. It’s a connection with the rest of the world, and what they are doing on a whole new level.  And as far as marketing goes, I’ll be the first to admit that online ads are just as annoying as T.V. commercials, but marketing through your own network of people that are somewhat interested in whatever you are doing is taking the ability of targeted marketing to companies that don’t have an advertising budget. And it’s not an “in the face” approach like traditional ads. People can come to you on their own terms, which makes for a higher quality user. We plan on using these resources as best we can in order to grow our community of like-minded people.

Coty: How did you go about selecting the initial crop of charities that Desired Hearts and its designers will be donating too? Any plans on expanding this list of charities in the future?

Matt: We know there are thousands of non-profits out there doing great things, and we would love to be able to touch them all. However, just starting out, we wanted to use some that maybe everyone has heard of. Another reason for keeping the list small is impact. If we started out with 20 different charities, then each one might be getting $2.50 every three months or so (we pay out donations quarterly). We figured we could have a greater impact if we were giving $100 or whatever instead. So until business picks up a little, we would like to keep the list around the same size. But we definitely will be adding to the list as the company’s capabilities to help those charities grow.

Roby: Ditto back at Matt! However, I wanted to also mention that we really are planning to push DH as a way to help community efforts such as fundraisers, etc. Once we fine-tune all these details, we’ll make some updates on the site so people know what’s up.

Coty: As the co-founder of Desired Hearts, what has the experience of building a startup been like? Has it been everything you’ve expected?

Roby: Luckily, Always Creative has been in business just long enough for us all to know what to expect: nothing at all. Startups are never guaranteed and I think that’s what makes it so exciting. We’ve taken an idea we’re extremely proud of, used endless hours and cups of coffee to refine it, and then sent it out for the world to see (and hopefully love). Lesson for those interested: you need capital. Trust me on that one.

Matt: Definitely need money! Not to say you can’t bootstrap it, because we are. You have to be smart about what you spend your money on for sure. If you run out, you’re pretty much dead in the water. Luckily we are still swimming…ha-ha. And I’m glad we are debt free. It would be awesome to have a loan amount big enough to do everything we want to do right off the bat, but sometimes it’s best to go slow so you don’t make the mistakes that end up costing thousands of dollars. And at the end of the month, who wants to worry about another bill! Moral of the story: know what size fish you are and eat accordingly.

Coty: Finally, what are some of the goals that you and the rest of the Desired Hearts team have set for the new site?

Matt: We want to continue to polish the site and add new features, both on the front end and the back end. This is my first web-based project, and I must say I had no idea how much development takes place when creating a site from scratch. The guys at Downtown Cartel and Always Creative, have done an amazing job conceptualizing, branding, a building the site. We’ve had our ups and downs, but overall it’s been one of the coolest and most rewarding things I’ve done.

Roby: Haha .. happy Matt doesn’t hate us. One of our team members, Jimmy, the guy who did all the sweet icons and helped with the overall site design, is definitely becoming our “Director of Cool”. He has thrown out some great ideas about how we can make Desired Hearts run with the best. Some of our ideas include making our own custom shirts which will most likely come from a “cut and sew” competition. We plan to continue to make as many small videos of our adventures as possible and work with some of the top talent in the industry. We’re also gearing up to launch shirts that focus more on our identity just to give people options. I’d say our biggest goal is just to challenge what’s expected out of a company our size. No one on our collective team backs down to a challenge. Our challenge: to create a high-end, custom fashion label that is respected for quality, individuality, the ability to give and the guts to take things on head first.

I definitely have to thanks both Roby and Matt for agreeing to take the time out to do this interview with me – it is very much appreciated! Also a big shout out to Roby for working closely with me on this, going back and forth on email was definitely worth it! I wish the Desired Hearts team the best of luck with this awesome venture!

And just in case you haven’t already seen this, here’s a behind the scenes sneak peak at the Desired Hearts photo shoot for the initial set of t-shirt prints.