Everything starts with a Tee

Originally designed as underwear for the Navy, the T-shirt as we know it may now be an icon of fashion. But the popularity of this universally loved wardrobe staple owes a huge debt to the world of twentieth-century sportswear.

Mirroring Admiral’s rise to prominence the T-shirt became standard sporting attire by the 1930s, thanks to an increase in sports and leisure activities.  The earliest Tees featured printed school logos which in turn encouraged a new casualness in dress that was fundamental to the T-shirt's general acceptance. Whilst the cotton T-shirt has remained a mainstay of sports activities due to its absorbent, quick-drying properties, and design that allows free range of movement. Though the T-shirts' role in sports has now moved beyond team identification and practical function. It now plays a pivotal part in the marketing, promotion, and profitability of the sports industry.

Though the world of fashion adopted the sports T-shirt as early as 1948 with a model appearing on the cover of Life magazine alongside a story that featured T-shirts by American designers Claire McCardell, Ceil Chapman, and Valentina. It was the Sixties that saw the tee go from street fashion to haute couture style versions in the collections of such designers as Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior. Whilst the Seventies saw the emergence of (political) slogans on tees whilst the eighties and nineties saw the humble tee become an indicator of wealth thanks to Lacoste and Ralph Lauren.

The T-Shirts in our first collection take their inspiration from the functional and understated sportswear era. Not only do we think this era provided the most timeless and aesthetically pleasing silhouettes but also because comfort and functionality are key. Which is why these Admiral Sporting Goods Co. T-shirts feature set-in sleeves that have been cut separately and then sewn on for a much better fit. Whilst the heavyweight cotton jersey we use provides a more structured comfortable fit, makes an ideal mid-layer, and will last significantly longer than a lighter weight T-Shirt.

Words by Mark Smith

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