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The Rebel with a Cause : The T-Shirt

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

To coincide with the launch of The Fitzgerald T-Shirt Range, we delve into the rebellious roots of the wardrobe mainstay; The T-Shirt.

No safety pins, no buttons, no needle and no thread...

This was the caption that accompanied the magazine ad ran by the Underwear Company promoting T-shirts in the early 19th Century.


The theme was to cover a young man’s modesty should he accidentally loose one of his shirt buttons - massive drama when you don’t know how to work a needle and thread!


the Underwear Company - early 19th century

So where did it all begin?


First promoted as an undergarment and must have for stylish and appropriate wear under a shirt, the first actual T-shirts can be dated back to ancient times, but with more prominence over the last 100 or so years - firstly adopted by miners and dockers as garments of choice for warmer working conditions.


An issue item for the US Navy from 1913, the word T-shirt became part of American English in the 1920s, appearing in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It went on to become the easy-to-wear and inexpensive piece of clothing, especially for young boys and made available in whole host of patterns and colourways.



However, for men and seeing the wearability of the T-shirt as a singular item, the real kick-starter came in the 1950 film Streetcar Named Desire starring Marlon Brando and latterly Rebel Without A Cause and James Dean. The rolled T-shirt sleeve with cigarette packet tucked in was to shape the styles of millions from then on.




Initially a garment of the working class, the T-shirt was often paired with hard-wearing denim jeans for working on the farm or ranches and then given a style ‘leg-up’ when stylised for a more sophisticated presentation with high-waisted pants or trousers. Today, those two looks are still so powerful and show the adaptability of perhaps the most flexible garment in the wardrobe.


The Stanley Biggs Fitzgerald T-shirt Range pays homage to the T-shirt, which we consider as one of the most versatile rebels in the history of fashion with author F. Scott Fitzgerald first talking about the “T-shirt" in his novel 'This Side of Paradise’ in 1920.


In later years, and with its new association as an outer garment, the T-shirt has become closely associated to a blank canvass and how messages can be conveyed - no better illustrated than via the retro band/music T’s that most of us still own or desire to mark our community and support of. Today, they are rarely seen without a message, statement or logo printed on - so we thought we would do just that with a fascinating and exciting garment to add to our range!


The history of T-shirts

It is with history in mind that our T-shirts have been developed and created in three understated colourways of grey, black and navy. We have chosen to make ours from 100% recycled cotton, offering an incredibly comfortable and sustainable option that can be worn either on its own or as an undergarment. Deliberately discreet, the Biggs Fox is expertly embroidered in a matching cotton and sits on the right sleeve - still high enough for you to roll the sleeve should you wish to go full-on Brando.

We hope you enjoy...



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What's Next?

Style Inspiration : Women in Men's Clothing

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