Looking cool in printed t-shirts not only adds style to your look it also, depending on the amount of t-shirts printed offers a great deal of uniqueness. But have you ever stopped to think where it all started and how long have people been printing t-shirts.
The modern screen printing process was first patented in Manchester by Samuel Simon in 1907.
A few years earlier also in Manchester the first t-shirts began to emerge from the poverty ridden slums surrounding the textiles mills that were the main employers in the region. The t-shirt was quickly adapted by street gangs known as scuttlers who regularly terrorised the local community.
It was these scuttlers who as soldiers wore their t-shirts under their uniforms in the trenches of northern France. This was quickly adapted by American troops which lead to the t-shirt becoming a universal item of clothing. The images of Hollywood stars such as James Dean and Marlon Brando wearing white t-shirts has made the simple t-shirt a global fashion item found in wardrobes all over the world.
Although t-shirts and screen printing originated around the same time in the same area printed t-shirts didn’t become popular until the invention of plasticol inks and the youth movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Smithsonian museum displays ‘the oldest printed T-shirt’ on record in their collection. It is a campaign shirt for New York Gov. Thomas Dewey’s 1948 presidential campaign,
T-shirt printing quickly became a vehicle for political protest and soon became a part of social demonstrations protesting against the Vietnam war, civil rights movements, and the campaign for nuclear disarmament.
In the 1970s the music industry soon learnt that t-shirt merchandising was a very lucrative addition to ticket prices and album sales. As the likes of the Stones and Pink Floyd headed out on world tour iconic t-shirts like Warhol’s lips, and The Dark Side Of The Moon prism became multi million selling items. This also paved the way for a multi million pound “bootleg” industry that sold copies of official t-shirts outside concert venues for a fraction of the price.
The demand for blank t-shirts to print on as created global businesses such as Fruit Of The Loom, and Gildan. Fruit Of The Loom as 23000 employees and annual sales of 500 million dollars.
As the cost of t-shirt printing machinery drops it as become easier to start up in the industry and with internet auction sites such as eBay, selling small amounts of t-shirts as become quite easy and cheap to set up in business.