But were they even broken, you ask? Kind of. Like its blue jean brethren, the t-shirt was repurposed from its original use.
Where jeans were created for the working man and broke free into everyday use worldwide, the t-shirt was originally an undergarment that became the de facto garment of the working class, especially those working in hot environments. They are also regularly issued to servicemen from WWII to the present. With help from icons like James Dean and Marlon Brando, the t-shirt became a mainstream fashion staple.
But they weren’t great
The problem was, little changed in the design of t-shirts. They were still almost exclusively all-cotton jersey fabric, prone to shrinkage, stains and absorbed perspiration — true to their original intent. But as t-shirts became more of an everyday garment, especially in a society in which many express themselves via t-shirts, the all-cotton fabric had to go.
One alternative: the 50/50 poly/cotton blend. Problem was, that fiber content provided a slimy-feeling garment that neither fully wicked away sweat nor fully absorbed it. You can still find 50/50 blends, but they don’t feel right.
Then, scientists — working in what I hope is some top-secret garment laboratory somewhere only a few select people know about — happened upon the perfect blend of natural and unnatural fibers to create the PERFECT T-SHIRT FIBER BLEND.
It’s a blend of cotton, polyester and RAYON. Rayon is long known for its ability to mimic silk in its softness, and for its durability as a man-made fiber. Rayon made it the perfect complement to the poly/cotton blend.
And the floodgates opened. While you can still find plenty of 100% cotton shirts, the tide has turned. The lovely Radio Milwaukee t-shirts you might have received for your contributions in one of our recent fund drives are 50% polyester, 25% rayon and 25% cotton. That rayon gives it its silky feel.
As the owner of probably 200+ t-shirts (really, I have a problem) with the bulk of them the old-school 100% cotton variety, I have made the switch to the rayon/poly/cotton team and won’t go back.
And the creepy Michael Jordan commercials notwithstanding, Hanes got it right in eliminating the tags. And it’s not just Hanes. A recent Field Report shirt purchase featured a tear-away tag, on a shirt made from that lovely 50/25/25% blend.
The t-shirt is now perfect. What do we need to perfect next?