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CustomInk Celebrates the 100th Birthday of the T-Shirt

by Adam Levine

in CustomInk News

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T-Shirt Turns 100Since 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, CustomInk 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 CustomInk’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 CustomInk 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. CustomInk 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, CustomInk has planned a fitting celebration. Birthday activities from now through the end of the summer include:

– An interactive birthday website www.tshirtbirthday.com on which guests can celebrate the life of the t-shirt by browsing:

  • A timeline of major milestones in the history of the t-shirt, from its transition from underwear to outerwear, to the first political tee, the tie die craze and more.
  • CustomInk’s gallery of the 100 most iconic t-shirts of all time (premiering in late April)
  • Video messages from t-shirt loving Americans (online this spring)

– A campaign to fundraise for our troops, honoring the military origins of the t-shirt and our country’s service men and women. Each month between now and the summer, CustomInk will feature a limited-edition, custom-designed t-shirt representing each branch of our military — designed by service members. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will benefit the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Inc., which supports members of our armed forces recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and their families. The first featured t-shirt, representing the U.S. Navy, is available from now through the end of April, and was designed by Captain David Tarantino — a Navy doctor who earned the Navy Marine Corps Medal for his heroic actions at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. His t-shirt can be purchased at http://campaign.customink.com/navy.

– Shirt-sharing: What t-shirt stole your heart? Share and hashtag pics (#TTurns100) and your t-shirt love stories.
Weekly contests, in which followers can test their t-shirt knowledge and win special prizes

– An Augmented Reali-TEE App: Coming this summer to great American landmarks around the county, the app will allow the public to design the perfect custom tee to outfit figures like Lady Liberty and the presidents on Mount Rushmore.

-Special offer on custom t-shirts for birthday celebrations from now until 9/30/2013. Design a custom t-shirt for a birthday celebration and use voucher: CELEBRATE at checkout to receive a free “Happy Birthday to Me” tee with purchase (on a six shirt minimum order).

To take part in the festivities, t-shirt lovers should visit www.tshirtbirthday.com, where they can follow the fun on social media and receive campaign updates.

About the Author - Adam Levine


Adam is a Search Marketing Specialist at CustomInk. He has worked at CustomInk for more than 7 years, and helps contribute to the blog with fun content that helps inspire people. And with puns. Lots and lots of puns.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie Dunham July 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for the great information. I have often thought the t-shirt was the most important icon of our generation. I posted a blog about the importance of the t-shirt on my blog.

David O May 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

WOOOO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY T-SHIRT!

Blaine Dunning April 4, 2013 at 1:43 am

Happy Birthday to the T-shirt

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