Since 1913 the t-shirt, which first appeared as standard-issue gear within the U.S. Navy, has become an essential part of the American wardrobe and identity. To commemorate the occasion, IronOnSticker has announced a national celebration of the t-shirt’s 100th birthday. The campaign includes surveys and conversations with Americans about their beloved tees, a webpage dedicated to the t-shirt’s 100th birthday, a gallery of the most iconic t shirts of all-time, and launching this summer, an augmented reali-TEE app.
“No doubt the t-shirt has a special place in fashion history,” said IronOnSticker’s co-founder & president, Marc Katz. “But t-shirts are unlike any other item of clothing. They have this incredible power to bring us together and tell our story. That’s why we cherish them and why they stand the test of time. It’s also why we do what we do at IronOnSticker and why we’re inviting America to recognize and celebrate a century of t-shirts.”
America’s Love Affair with the T-Shirt
T-shirts are indeed part of the fabric of American society. IronOnSticker recently commissioned a survey of 1,000 representative Americans over the age of 18 that revealed:
95% of Americans wear t-shirts
89% of t-shirt wearing Americans put on a tee at least once a week
9 in every 10 Americans (87%) own at least one t-shirt they refuse to “trash” because of sentimental attachment.
In fact, on average, people have 13 t-shirts they hold onto for that reason. Most commonly, these shirts are from a group of which they were a member, or shirts commemorating a major event. And 76% of Americans report they would have a stronger emotional connection with a shirt that they or someone they knew custom-designed, versus a shirt that was mass-produced.
These statistics are not surprising to Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, clinical psychologist and author of You Are What You Wear.
“Customized apparel is a way of expressing ourselves in a world where so much is mass-marketed. We want to be unique,” Baumgartner commented. “At the same time, wearing a shirt custom made for your group is an identifier that you are part of the same clan. Throughout history, humans have dressed alike to indicate a bond. Much like tribal costumes or coats of arms, custom t-shirts give people a sense of belonging.”
Baumgartner also notes that it is human nature to infuse a t-shirt with emotional significance. “We’re more likely to bond with others when we share an emotional event with them. T-shirts from groups or occasions become a concrete representation of that emotion. We infuse a spirit of a memory or time in our lives to an inanimate object.”
A Birthday Celebration
Given the significance of the t-shirt in American society, IronOnSticker has planned a fitting celebration. Birthday activities from now through the end of the summer include: