SURVIVAL OF THE Fittest
FROM THEIR INCEPTION as appropriate-for-daytime-wear wardrobe standby (or inappropriate, depending on who’s doing the judging), T-shirts have been the put-upon younger brother
of the apparel clan. Slacker. Underachiever. Slob. Uniform of the basement-dwelling video-game player, or worse, the go-to garment for sweaty work outside or on a treadmill.
Yet, in the last 10 years or so, there’s been a bit of a shake-up in the hierarchy. T-shirts grew up. In fact, they became king.
In an effort to emanate a more offbeat vibe, many designers began adding them to their collections, emblazoned with rock-and-roll icons and/or ironic witticisms. Likewise, in a nod toward the inherent versatility of the T-shirt, still others sent models down the runway sans the bells and whistles with a more classic, on-the-boat-in-the-Hamptons take on the piece. They were usually paired with a cropped blazer of some sort, for the record.
In the promotional products arena, the coup of the T-shirt might have, true to form, happened slightly later, yet in the past few years especially, its evolution has been exponentially catching up. The metamorphosis has been chronicled annually in the pages of this very publication. Two years ago, in PM’s February 2006 T-shirt overview, “Go Sheer and Light-weight,” erstwhile editor Jennifer Hans reported changes in fabric weight were replacing
the heavier choices of the past. And just last year, Cynthia Graham identified
customization as the current trend. Today, there are three distinct categories that are
giving T-shirts more visibility than ever. It’s important to note the new developments are only building on past years’ progress, and as Alon Shafigi, CEO of Rancho Dominguez, California-based Next Level Apparel noted, the best is yet to come. “The market is tired of seeing the regular, boring 18 single tee,” he said. “It has taken a huge step forward into fashionable tees with incredible, creative designs.”