1913 The First T-Shirt Models
White cotton, crewneck T-shirts became regulation underwear for the U.S. Navy. Two decades later, at the University of Southern California, football players don similar shirts to prevent chafing from heavy shoulder pads. The tees became so fashionable that students start pilfering them for casual wear. In response, the school began stenciling “Property of USC” on its T-shirts as a crime-prevention tactic, not a statement of pride.
1951 An Undershirt Named Desire
Hollywood rebel Marlon Brando exudes animal magnetism in A Streetcar Named Desire when he wears a thin, white T-shirt. Teens dig the look, and by year’s end, T-shirt sales total $180 million. But for Brando, the style is only a means to an end. A graduate of The Actors’ Studio, he’d learned to use his body to show his character’s inner turmoil. The T-shirt is only a thin veil, meant to cover not only his rippling physique, but also his character’s bestial urges.
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