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A Tee Shirt May Make You a Walking Billboard
Author: _Anthony Palladino

Copyright © 2006 Anthony Palladino

Tee Shirt History

The tee shirt is nearly a century old (origin 1919) and is well becoming one of the most enduring symbols of youthful culture and expression. The walking advertisement of late twentieth-century American culture got its start as a humble item of men's underwear and got its name because when spread flat it formed a stubby letter T.

Its little sleeves and round collar distinguished the tee shirt from the standard sleeveless undershirt of the day. The sleeves may also have helped bring the tee shirt out of hiding in the 1930’s and 1940’s, since they offered a gesture toward modesty as well as a cache for a pack of cigarettes.

Dressing Up the Basic Tee Shirt

Once they were in view, tee shirts became canvasses for images and messages. In addition to basic white, they soon came in all colors and sizes; and equally important, they displayed first the emblems of schools and teams, and then every design or slogan imaginable.

Today a public event is hardly complete without its accompanying tee shirt. Whether it’s a rock concert or a walk for cancer, you’ll be sure to find a tee shirt commemorating the event.

Cold weather doesn't slow us down; we just cover the tee shirt with a sweatshirt, a 1925 American invention; or layer a tee over a long sleeve shirt. Some even refer to the long sleeve version of the short sleeve original as a “Long Sleeve tee shirt”. Short or long, today, the tee shirt is a staple in just about everyone’s wardrobe.

The Walking Billboard

And why do tee shirts never seem to fall out of favor? Because the tee shirt is the single most powerful form of individual expression for the average person.

When you wear a tee shirt with an embellishment on it, everyone may not interpret the embellishment the same way, but one thing is for sure, there is no question as to who is delivering the message. In today’s world, there are lots of powerful tools that are accessible to those with something to say.

There is the Internet and all of its devices such as email, personal websites, blogs and forums, chat rooms, etc. And the more traditional forms of expression still exist such as writing – stories, letters, poems; or even art such as painting or sculpting. But with all of these aforementioned mediums through which one may express itself, there is none as powerful as the “Walking Billboard”.

When you sport a tee shirt, you can’t hide who you are and what you are thinking. If you wear a shirt that says “eat shit and die” everyone who crosses your path will know that you are a really angry person or a person with a very sick sense of humor…or maybe both.

Tee Shirts Online and Buying Trends

Now, hundreds upon thousands of tee shirts are available to us all, online. Whether you are looking for a novelty tee shirt with a raunchy saying or a political tee with a strong message, you will find no shortage of inventory in cyberspace.

The most popular sectors of the custom tee shirt market include Novelty tees, Skate and Surf tees, Hip Hop tees, High Fashion tees, Famous People tees, and Design It Yourself (DIY) tees.

At present, the fastest growing niche in the market seems to be that of Design It Yourself tees. While consumers are not getting tired of what the designers and retailers are offering, an increasingly large number of consumers seem to want to let their own creative juices flow and design their own.

Famous People Tees are Hot

Another emerging niche in the custom tee shirt market is Famous People tees, which offers original works of art that interpret icons of past and present. Some of the more popular icons to be featured are Bob Marley, Madonna, Che Guevara, and Al Pacino as Scarface.

Whatever your taste in tee shirts, just be prepared to take criticism, comment, or praise from those who view whatever it is you’re advertising!

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Anthony Palladino is a cofounder of Icon Tees, a New Jersey firm that has developed an original line of tee shirts featuring popular icons like Madonna, Bruce Lee, Frank Sinatra, Run DMC and many more. Check out www.icontees.com and say what you want without having to say a word.

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