Over the years, the t-shirt has proven to be both a ‘fashion staple’ as well as a ‘rebel for a cause’.
With versatility in t-shirts unlike any other form of clothing, the t-shirt has come to be a fashion statement (quite literally). From positioning itself as workwear, comfort wear as well as a symbol of ones style and sense, t-shirts have come to be well-travelled, transcending both time and space. They have seamlessly moved across the path of evolution and made a spot in almost every wardrobe on the planet.
Custom t-shirt printing, in particular, has evolved into a powerful statement for a cause. It has evolved from simple tie dyes to represent philosophies, freedom movements and even serves as a catalyst to change age-old, redundant discriminatory ideas. The t-shirt has of course come a long way from the 50s, but it has stayed firm in staying headstrong in varied causes.
Here are #4 evergreen moments wherein the T-shirt has done its bit to maintain a cause.
#1. Presidential Campaigns
Did you know… By the 50s, everyone was going gaga over plain t-shirts? How did people set their shirts apart with a little spark of individuality? Well, the start of symbolism on tees first began when graphic tees rose to the forefront. In 1939, the name ‘Oz’ was printed on a t-shirt. Back then, The Wizard of Oz caught attention of both commoners and leaders. This inspired Republican candidate, Thomas E Dewey, to use the first-slogan t-shirt for his 1948 residential campaign ‘Dew it with Dewey’.
In present times, custom t-shirt printing has also worked with the opposition to take satirical digs. During America’s 2016 presidential debate, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a ‘nasty woman’. Amanda Brinkman, founder of Shrill Society – a women-driven lifestyle products site, saw opportunity in this and printed a t-shirt with ‘nasty woman’ embedded on it. It went viral and helped her sell about 10,000 t-shirts!
#2. Silent Protests
Since then, tons of elections have seen people wearing custom printed t-shirts to communicate slogans, term plans and causes. The beauty in customized t-shirts has not only helped campaigns, but protests to move on silently- by wearing printed messages on shirts to convey and express a ‘voice’ and statement while coming in peace.
Customized slogans printed onto t-shirts have been used for protests of all natures and scales, from pressing issues such as the Vietnam war to the 1971 obscenity trial surrounding London’s OZ magazine. Eminent personalities first started sporting it in meetings and conferences. An interesting case study?Back in 1984, Katharine Hamnett did not shy away from sporting an anti-nuclear message when she met Margaret Thatcher.
(Photo Credit: Press Association)
#3. A Voice for Current Movements
In light of peaceful protests with customized slogans printed on tees, over the years, there has been a steady increase and an ample rise of current trends and ongoing movements.
Custom t-shirt prints have transcended through these trends and movements, by doing their best and giving each tee an individualistic voice.
The art world, especially, has used the t-shirt as a sincere weapon to stage protests against discrimination and gender inequality in this field. The Guerrilla Girls ‘‘Advantages of Being a Woman Artist’ tee and Dior’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ have been exemplary examples in this context.
#4. Addressing Violence
Apart from protests and speaking out through custom printed tees, addressing violence has also come to be common. T-shirts give people who believe in confronting and addressing violence without using forceful or aggressive means, a platform to freely express themselves and advocate against violence.
Here is a picture showing Sir Paul McCartney, who wore a shirt with his message on his chest at the ‘Our Live’s rally in New York’.
(Photo Credit: Instagram)
Quick to create controversy
Having said this, it does not take too long for controversies to develop. Some of America’s street bands are well-acquainted with this. They have worn t-shirts with sensitive messages that have often found its way into controversial webs. To name a few controversies, Urban Outfitters’ anorexia-promoting “Eat less” (2010), JCPenney’s anti-feminist “I’m too pretty to do homework…so my brother has to do it for me” (2011), American Apparel’s borderline-paedophiliac “Teenagers do it better” (2011) and the popular Nike’s ‘’Gold Digging’ received a lot of criticism.
Even amidst controversies, the wonderful thing about t-shirt printing with symbolism is that it is subliminal. It truly helps people align to a cause they stand for.
Here’s a quick guide to understand printing methods for your next t-shirt for a cause.
There are ample printing methods available- ranging from silkscreen printing, digital printing, vinyl transfer, dye sublimation and a host of other printing methods. Each printing method has something interesting, stylized and special to it.
For instance, if you have picked polyester as the shirt material, dye sublimation is a viable printing method. The gaseous state of the ink leads to a completely washable shirt with your image and design printed onto the polyester t-shirt. The effect of dye sublimation on a polyester shirt is a smooth print.
When it comes to the most effective method of printing, a lot of times, the print/ brand logo which has to be printed onto the t-shirt is the deciding factor as to which printing method is best suited.
Vinyl Printing works best for jerseys and class tees if you wish to print varying individual number and names. Digital Heat Press is used for smaller quantities with full color print.
If you are printing a t-shirt to stand for a cause, what matters ultimately is that you truly stand by what you believe in!
At T-Shirt Guys Singapore, we enjoy partnering with brands in their journey to enhance customer retention, branding and catalyze marketing through customized t-shirts. As a custom t-shirt supplier, we have had delightful opportunities to work with clients from all walks of life, in many different industries around Singapore. We house advanced t-shirt printing techniques which will help you achieve crisp, clear designs regardless of the type of material you want – all at cost-effective prices. We would love to specially design a customized t-shirt to meet your brand’s marketing objectives.
Ready to wear a unique identity on your chest? Contact us!
+65 9711 7732 / +65 9720 1044