History of T-Shirt Printing

Nowadays, fashion is a way of self-expression. People like to be creative with their clothing choices in order to put across a certain message about themselves. This is one of the reasons why it is easy to get a sense of who a person is based on their clothing style.

One of the oldest ways of expressing oneself is the printed t-shirt.

T-shirts were not actually considered appropriate articles of clothing until shortly after WWII. The t-shirt was considered to be a men’s undergarment that was worn under the uniform during the war. However, in the years following the war, the t-shirt became a staple in everyday clothing. At first, the concept of the t-shirt was pretty basic, but eventually the idea of putting print on t-shirts came into play.

Textile printing has been around longer than the t-shirt. The concept of transferring print to objects dates all the way back to third century China. Back then, it was called “woodblock printing” where a design is carved on a block of wood, and then the block is dipped in ink then pressed onto a piece of fabric. Afterwards, in China, the concept for silk screen printing (where a silk mesh was used to transfer ink to objects) was invented. This was a step up from woodblock printing. As time wore on, the technique of textile printing advanced during the Renaissance and through the Industrial Revolution.

Now, the idea for printing on t-shirts began in the 1950s. Several companies in Miami, Florida began to print logos and designs of popular local resorts on t-shirts. This was only the beginning of custom made t-shirts. Soon screen-printing, a more popular method of printing t-shirts, became the new trend around this time. Nine years later, in 1959, a new type of ink – a stretchier type – made it possible to create a wider variety of designs, styles and colours on the fabric of t-shirts. Shortly after this, in 1967, inventor Michael Vasilantone invented a multiple printing carousel, which allowed people to print multiple colours at once on a fabric. This was a significant discovery and paved the pathway for t-shirt printing in the future.

More years passed, and now the more dominant type of textile ink that is used for printing are plastisol and water-based inks. This is a great advancement because it means that today’s inks are more durable and less toxic.

Eventually, printed t-shirts became a staple in fashion. People use their t-shirts as a form of self-expression – it became a way to express their political views, advocate for certain causes or use them to express something funny. One of the funny quotes often seen on t-shirts is “I don’t need google, my wife knows everything.”

Printed t-shirts became a way that individuals and companies can market themselves to the outside world. Companies can put their logos and mottos on t-shirts, which was proven to be a valuable way to market as worn t-shirts are constantly mobile via the recipient that is wearing them.