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History of Band T-Shirts

Band t-shirts are a wardrobe staple for every alternative chick and dude. You, reading this post right now, how many band t-shirts do you own?

How many black Ac/Dc tops are piled up in your wardrobe? Are your drawers bursting with old t-shirts with too many memories attached to throw away? We can feel you. We absolutely love band t-shirts, especially the ones you buy at concerts. Those t-shirts bring on so many memories when you wear them that you couldn’t replace them with anything else, not even an autograph or a million photos. Are you one of those who always buy a “souvenir” t-shirt at concerts? Or do you buy band t-shirts at Topshop? (if you’re one of the latter, the image below is for you. Print it and hang it in your room!)

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T-shirts haven’t been a part of casual wear until the 1950s: before then, they were just worn underneath other garments. The first ones to wear t-shirts as outerwear were Hollywood stars in the movies: think about Marlon Brando and James Dean. When people saw Marlon Brando wearing a white t-shirt as a stand-alone garment in “A Streetcar Named Desire” t-shirts finally achieved the status of fashion-wear. From that date the t-shirt only grew in popularity. Although, it wasn’t until the 60s that t-shirts gained momentum as “self expression” and started to be used as “statements.” Advertisements, slogans, protests, souvenirs and finally bands logos. In the 70s rock bands began selling t-shirts at concerts and merchandising became a big money spinner.

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Do you remember the 80s band Frankie Goes to Hollywood? We still wear the “Frankie says Relax” t-shirt today, that’s what the band t-shirt means to our culture. In 1984 BBC radio banned the song “Relax” for its “explicitly sexual” lyrics: naturally the sales of the single skyrocketed and it went straight to No. 1. The record label owner Paul Morley had the idea of selling t-shirts with “FRANKIE SAYS RELAX” in capital letters: millions of fans turned into billboards, and the t-shirt lives on until today (even if the band’s popularity did not last as long).

Since the 1980s t-shirts have been a form of personal expression, they became a trend during the 90s and they are invading mainstream fashion today. Band t-shirts are sold everywhere from high street shops to online stores, from concerts to festivals and thrift stores. As always, when something becomes so popular it loses its original meaning and strength. Band t-shirts used to be a vehicle to express ones rebellious ideas against society, and a passion for the ideals of the band printed on them. If you stop someone on the street and ask them which is their favorite song of the band on their t-shirt they’ll probably don’t know what to answer. That’s really sad, so please don’t wear band t-shirts unless you listen to the band!

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What do you think of band t-shirts? Do you love them and do you wear them because you love the band?

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