T-shirts are our adult blankies. They define us. We can’t get enough of them. As ephemeral as life is, t-shirts are one thing we can count on.
Chapter 1: The Birth of Form
T-shirts have gone through as many reincarnations as Madonna since their birth in World War I. American soldiers smitten with the cotton unmentionable worn by the European armies Bogarted them while overseas. During WWII, T-shirts became standard operating procedure for both the Army and Navy, as the undergarment of choice.
Chapter 2: James Dean Clean
During the ‘50s, T-shirts became synonymous with rebellion. Wearing a T-shirt was the equivalent of going outside in your skivvies. But, when it was hot sweaty Marlon Brando “Stella-ing” in just a t-shirt, audiences
didn’t mind the faux pas. Then James Dean came along being rebellious and clueless in his tee, and once again hearts melted. Form embraced its counterpart, fashion, and it was the beginning of a movement.
Chapter 3: Hippy Dippy
During the 60’s, this piece of unrefined clothing became a do-it-yourself billboard for tie-dying and screen printing. Taking the blank white canvas into their own hands, t-shirts that once were crisp and clean
became colored and twisted. Rejecting even the formality of a T-Shirt, radicals used the clothing as a mouthpiece toward unique identity, creative aspirations,
and political messages.
Chapter 4: Punk in a Funk
Vivienne Westwood began the punk movement by ripping the T-shirt to shreds. Focusing on the dark elements rather than the cheer of the hippies, black T-shirts became the new uniform. Today, the style she
capitalized on is still going strong and everyone has a bit of Anglomania.
Chapter 5: POLO a-go-go
Come on, you were there: Sporting those huge logos stamped across your chest listening to Boys 2 Men. Coming off the consumerism of the 80’s, having a personal identity was less important than being associated with
your favorite designer. But, who can blame them? I’ll walk the line with Calvin Klein any day.
Chapter 6: The Poetry and Song of Soft and Long
Wrap me in Generra and tempt me with James Perse. Today, Courtney Cox boxy midrift barring tees of the 90’s are long gone. Skin went out with the Clinton administration. The Bush administration told us to put our
clothes back on, and, love or hate it, we obeyed. Matching the agenda with more conservative clothing, t-shirts gained buckets of fabric along the bottom hem
morphing into a dress-like garment.
Chapter 7/ Epilogue: The Future is Raf.
As for the T-Shirt of tomorrow, I stick with Raf. Disillusioned, geometric, and glaring, Raf Simons’ work is serves both as at art thesis and wearable design. Sensitive to the tremors of social conscious,
Simons’ work tells us who we are and who we will be. Not something you can buy for 5 dollars, but worth every penny.
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