T-shirts, also spelled tee shirt, or tee for short, are a style of fabric shirt named after the T shape of its body and sleeves. Traditionally, they have short sleeves and a round neckline, known as a crew neck, which lacks a collar. T-shirts are generally made of stretchy, light, and inexpensive fabric and are easy to clean. The T-shirt evolved from undergarments used in the 19th century and, in the mid-20th century, transitioned from undergarments to general-use casual clothing.

T-shirts are inexpensive to produce and are often part of fast fashion, leading to outsized sales of T-shirts compared to other attire. For example, two billion T-shirts are sold globally per year, and the average person in Sweden buys nine T-shirts a year. Production processes vary but can be environmentally intensive, including the environmental impact caused by their materials, such as cotton, which uses a lot of water and pesticides.

T-shirt Design and Trends

Originally intended to serve as undershirts, t-shirts are now commonly worn as the only article of clothing covering the upper half of the body, with the exception of maybe a brassiere or, infrequently, a waistcoat (vest). T-shirts have also developed into a platform for advertising and self-expression, showcasing any conceivable word, image, or artwork.

As social media and video sharing websites gained popularity, so did the number of tutorials on do-it-yourself T-shirt projects. These films usually showed viewers how to transform an old shirt into a new, stylish design.

V-neck T-shirts

Unlike the more popular crew neck shirt (sometimes called a U-neck), which has a round neckline, a V-neck T-shirt has a V-shaped neckline. V-necks were created so that the shirt’s neckline would not show when worn underneath an outer shirt, as would a crew neck shirt.

Screen printing is the most popular method of decorating commercial T-shirts. In screen printing, a design is divided into individual colors. Water-based or plastisol inks are applied to the shirt through mesh screens partially coated with an emulsion which limits the areas where ink is deposited. Most commercial T-shirt printing uses one to four spot colors to print the design. Process printing, which uses only cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink, or simulated process, which uses only white, black, red, green, blue, and gold ink, is effective in producing a wider color spectrum with a smaller number of colors. Process printing is best suited for light colored shirts. The simulated process is best suited for dark colored shirts.

Most companies that make shirts prefer to use plastisol because it can print on a variety of colors without requiring color adjustment at the art level. In 1959, plastisol was invented, providing an ink more durable and stretchable than water-based ink, allowing for a much greater variety in T-shirt designs.

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