If you’ve ever worn a T-shirt you need to read this!

This morning, as I scrabbled to get ready for work, I opened my cupboard and found a clean T-shirt to wear.

I slipped it on without thinking and then went about my day.

I mean, it’s just such a part of daily life that I was on autopilot.

T-shirts. Everyone wears them, right?

But, actually, as it turns out…wearing T-shirts is a fairly new thing, by historical standards, something that only really became popular after the 1950s.

You have the US Navy and the actor Marlon Brando to thank for their popularity.

T-shirts started out their lives as simple, crude undergarments – usually worn by farmers or general laborers underneath their work shirts.

If you believe in reincarnation, here’s hoping that you don’t come back as a 1800s farm worker’s T-shirt…living out your days with only a sweaty armpit for company.

But they didn’t get their big break until 1913 when the US Navy issued them (as undergarments) – simple white crew necks. By the 1920s the word T-shirt gradually slipped into the dictionary.

They were hidden away. Never displayed. Worn under shirts or jumpers. Locked away like the child of an overprotective parent – barely seeing the light of day.

Then in 1951 the T-shirt finally gained recognition for being a standalone fashionable item. Thanks to Marlon Brando, one of the coolest guys of the era.

He wore it in the classic ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ and the youngsters who idolised him at the time rushed out to buy and wear them.

A great example of just how much film inspires culture.


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The swinging sixties rolled round and more and more people began to wear printed T-shirts – often putting their own slogans on them to protest and make statements.

Not much has changed since the sixties, has it?

So there you go – there’s a story behind the humble t-shirt. That piece of fabric that we usually put on without thinking.

And, as a storyteller, it’s worth remembering that everything – even the simplest things – have a story behind them and it’s up to you to flesh them out.

For example, if I were in the fashion industry and I wanted to sell T-shirts, I’d find a creative way to sell them and their story.

‘DID YOU KNOW THAT MARLON BRANDO MADE THE T-SHIRT FAMOUS?’ I guarantee that people would be interested, particularly as most of us now only remember Brando as the old guy in ‘The Godfather’.

So, whether you’re selling something or just writing about something, have a look at the story behind it – does it have a good enough story to sell itself?

Most things do. Just look at the telescope, for example…

Class dismissed.

Lost in Manhattan

I didn’t write today because I went to the cinema. One of the things I like about independent picture houses is that they don’t just show the newest films – they often give an audience to some of the classics too.

This early evening showing was the old Woody Allen flick ‘Manhattan’. It’s nice to see that a film made as far back as 1979 can still hold a crowd (a near sellout) in its grip.

While I’m not sure if it’s quite as good as Allen’s most popular film ‘Annie Hall’ – it’s well worth a watch. As seems usual, Woody Allen plays a neurotic writer. In this one he’s dating a 17 year old (he’s 42!), but ends up leaving her for his best friend’s mistress.

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(Yep, that’s a young Meryl Streep)

Shot in black and white – this film is, dialogue aside, a beautiful slideshow of artistic frames and sprawling shots of the city of New York.

I’ve been involved in film-making over the years, and have even been in feature length films – I can tell you that finding shots as good as the ones in ‘Manhattan’ is a pain-staking process.

Entertainment aside, I was pleased to see that a good chunk of the audience was made up of under-30s. People who wouldn’t even have been alive when the film came out. Not only that, but from what I could sense and hear, they’d all enjoyed it too.

It shows us that good style and good storytelling is timeless.

Fashion – whether it be in films or threads – tends to move in cycles, because the fundamentals of success don’t really change.

So, it’s important to soak these classics up and find inspiration along the way.

When the world zigs, zag.

It’s a Saturday morning, and I thought I’d kick off the day by sharing this image. It’s one that I always go back to, in a effort to remind myself that sometimes the greatest ideas are the simplest.

It was 1982 and everyone was wearing blue jeans, as they had been for many years. Levi Strauss was considered the market leader and zillions of people all over the globe would visit their stores to get their jeans.

However, there were rumours that denim was going out of fashion and so Levi’s wanted to play a daring ace card…they wanted to launch black denim. Something pretty alien to their customers at the time.

They approached advertising agency BBH and thus the poster above was born, and it was a rip-roaring success.

Many fashionistas like to go against the grain, and be different from ‘sheep’ the world over so the image of the black sheep going against the tide appealed to them.

Not only that, but the clothes we wear are a form of expressionism and we all like to think we’re an individual – just like the black sheep in that picture.

Looking at this also makes me want to go out and buy Levi’s jeans…why must I be such an easy target for advertising bigwigs the world over?