The Power of the “T” Shirt

tshirt-history

By Nolan Apostle
Contributing Editor
Event City Premier Magazine

So What About Them Tees? 

The Tee Shirt or “Tshirt” how most prefer to write it, has played a significant role and an integrated part of my various marketing plans since I started my first business a very long time ago! Now with the advent of the Internet and a keen, easy to remember name or company URL, the Tshirt can be a very powerful tool. There is a lot to say for the Marketing methods of the past, the Old School advertising ways, don’t discount them one bit. Even the use of business cards and post cards is still very powerful. Combine these two marketing elements and look out! My friends that work in the Digital world of Social Media Marketing don’t want you to think that, but when someone sees you in a company Tshirt and comments, it is a very simple task to pull out a two-sided, beautifully printed, high quality, business or post card and hand it to them. Starting at only $29.00 per thousand that small 2 x 3.5″ tool can wallop a great punch in a partnership with your Tshirt campaign and help your company reach a level of success beyond what you could imagine; and to think it cost a tiny fraction of many other marketing campaigns in today’s modern digital world. tshirtNavy GunnersEarly-1900s

Even on its own, the Tshirt has been a huge success from the get go. The “T-Shirt” surfaced  in the United States as a standard issue by the U.S. Navy sometime around the period of the Spanish American War. But way before that the original Tshirt was invented during the Middle ages as an “undergarment”. During the 19th Century the Navy adopted this and featured the crew-neck and short sleeved garment to be worn as underwear beneath the uniform. Shortly after this, the Army followed as part of the standard issue ensemble given to recruits. Of course, it got its unique name from the simple fact of its shape resembling the letter “T”.  It became popular very quickly as it was such an easy to clean garment and mothers loved it for their sons as outerwear for chores and play. By the 1920’s the “T-shirt” became an official American-English word in the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

tshirtWizardOz1939

Wizard of Oz, first promotional T-shirt ever.

So how did it become a printed product? The earliest printed shirt was a tee made for promoting The Wizard of OZ in 1939. Official historical credit of the first printed Tshirt worn in a photo usually goes to the Air Corps Gunnery TshirtLifeCoverSchool “promotional” T-shirt featured on the July 13th, 1942  cover of LIFE magazine (there’s one you need Sujan for your collection).
Then good old Mickey Mouse would follow in those footsteps a few years later as an exclusively licensed print for Tropix Togs, a company founded by Sam Kantor in Miami, Florida.

TshirtBrandoAndArmy

One might think once Tshirts were used to promote Mickey Mouse that was it, but actually it wasn’t until Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire that the Tshirt skyrocketed to even greater heights. It became fashionably cool to wear as an outer garment.

Image of the original Mickey Mouse T-shirt.

Image of the original Mickey Mouse T-shirt.

When the 60’s came along, the T-shirt was now the impetus for self expression and wearable art for an entire generation and movement of primarily young, creative minds! The commercialism of theTshirt began as it took off as an advertising tool, souvenir messages, promotional campaigns, and even protests.

t-shirtWarrenDaytonWoodstock

Original artist Warren Dayton created this iconic Tie-dyed style Tee for Woodstock.

Tongue and Lip" logo was designed by John Pasche

The Rolling Stones “Tongue and Lip” logo is one of the most iconic symbols to appear on a Tshirt ever. It was designed for the Stones by Art Designer John Pasche.

The 1960’s Psychedelic artist Warren Dayton pioneered several political, and pop-culture art Tshirts featuring images of Cesar Chavez, several political cartoons, and other many other cultural icons of that era. Many of the designs produced in the 1970’s are just as popular today as they were back then, maybe even more so. Some of the more notable shirt designs over the decades include the yellow “Smiling” Happy Face Tees, The Rolling Stones’ “Tongue and Lips” logo, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” St. Patrick’s Day slogan, and the legendary “I ♥ SF”, “I ♥ N Y” or any of the “I ♥ __” variants and spoofs. Of course there is the ever popular Tshirt message “My parents went to ______ (name of place), and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!”, “Who farted?”, “I’m With stupid —->”, and a multitude of other crazy tees.

Sujan, you and many others have lived it so have I, the success from using Tshirts. We don’t need to convince ourselves the value and power of a Tshirt campaign. We already know and have experienced, what I like to refer to as, “The Power of the T” or “Power to the ‘T’ Degree”! Tshirts have always been powerful and IMHO, are even more powerful today!

TshirtTrodixTogsMickey

Tropix Togs gets exclusive rights from Disney to print images of Mickey Mouse and other characters on T-shirts to promote tourism and the Disney brand in the 1950′s.

The company Event City is about to launch a product that will certainly change how people live, attend events, purchase, acquire and receive whatever they buy at any given time, wherever they might be. You can bet they’ll have a Tshirt for that as well!

I wish all of you well and best in your continued success and if you haven’t tried a Tshirt campaign now’s the time to do that.

***************************************************************************

This article was influenced by my business partner and In2Hollywood Co-Founder David Falicki and Sujan Patel, the CEO of When I Work and Single Grain Internet based companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. It seems we all share the same passion about the power of the T-shirt.

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5 Responses

  1. Tshirts are the way to go. I remember getting a first ever Event City tshirt at an event for your launch of a beta test a few years ago, that was awesome. I still have it and wear it often. LOVE THE LOGO, ONE OF THE BEST I’VE EVER SEEN!! When will you have a new t-shirt and more impotantly your website. I cant wait. I was a Planner in the western region, production company in LA but recently moved back east. Whole diff culture there. Let’s connect Nolan, would love to get together. -Josh

  2. A blast from the distant past. Hey hey my man it is Funky Sam. I hope you are well. Damn dude, I didn’t know you could write. After reading this great article -and i too love tshirts- I kept reading and saw so many wonderful articles. You didn’t write back in the day did you? Heck I was too distracted back then I guess to have noticed — hee hee. I live in Maine not but visiting the norcal area -often- and want to connect with you if you are not too big of a corporate fuddy duddy to meet with an old time buddy! Miss you’re smiling face. chow

  3. It is engaging to read the many different comments throughout our magazine and blog posts. THANK YOU for all of your kind words. I especially enjoy many of the spirited emails and offers I’ve received as well. We take into consideration every serious business proposition that is offered to us, so if you haven’t heard from us please be patient or feel free to reach out again.

    Best regards
    Nolan Apostle
    Contributing Editor
    Event City Publishing
    magazine@eventcity.net

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