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A Brief History of the T-shirt

The tailored fit of our new Barking Irons T-Shirt left us curious about the origins of this American classic.

Our investigation into the origins of the T-shirt turned up a few good sources including this CBS interview with military historian Walter Bradford and some interesting intel about the tee becoming a staple of University of Southern California football practices in the ‘30s. Ultimately, Michael Casarella, co-founder of Barking Irons sums it up best:

“The t-shirt as we know it was born out of military tradition. It first emerged around the time of WWI as an undergarment. About a decade later the US Navy had created a T-shaped flannel pullover that became popular among sailors and later with marines. The US Army followed suit and developed their own version of the Navy’s T-shaped shirt, but they went one step further with the development of the sleeveless ‘tank top.’ By the time the Pacific theater was in full tilt, the US Army had officially introduced what they called a “quarter-sleeve undershirt.” This garment had the basic form of the modern American T-shirt. Following the war, returning veterans would wear their service trousers with their quarter-sleeve undershirts as casual wear. The look became commonplace in the 1950s. And of course, that decade it was also immortalized on the screen by Brando and Dean in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Rebel Without A Cause.”

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