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How the Promo T-Shirt Went from the Bottom Drawer to Top Fashion

While the plain white t-shirt has always been in fashion—James Dean and Marlon Brando cemented the plain white tee into style back in the 1950s—the

While the plain white t-shirt has always been in fashion—James Dean and Marlon Brando cemented the plain white tee into style back in the 1950s—the promotional tee gets relegated to a lazy-afternoon. Something to wear around the house. Or to bed. Everyone has their favorite promotional t-shirt they hang on to, tattered or new, but now people are taking their promo shirts out from the bottom drawers for a night on the town. The promo tee has officially gone from casual to casual-formal. Here’s why…

It’s Cool

While t-shirts have always been great advertisement material for pride marches or charity marathons, they’re now being used as everyday wear. Check out your nearest tech hub in any metropolitan area to see the corporate tee being worn in a professional setting. And look no further than singer Matt Nathanson, who often wears his Fresh Farm shirt on stage, to see that artists too have taken hold of brand loyalty.

“At a certain point corporate logos become iconic, going from corporate-wear to fashion-wear,” says Social Imprints sales representative Daniel Phifer. “Coca-Cola being a perfect example.”

Another great case of the promo tee turning chic is the resurgence of irony. Dead tech brands, to be specific. Extinct Startup Tees offers classic tees that pay homage to failed sites and apps — Napster, Webvan, Kozmo, just to name a few.

It’s Comfy

One reason why promotional shirts have become more popular is because they’ve improved over the years. Back in the day, it tooks a few washes and several wears to break-in a shirt. Why? Because they had no give. “Once companies came out with the softer, stretchier fabric that was side-seamed, and the shirt was cut correctly, it really felt good to wear all the time,” Mark Seymour, CSO of Next Level Apparel, explained to Promo Marketing Magazine.

Another element is the addition of other fabrics. While cotton remains the best choice for tees, the blending of other synthetic fabrics (like polyester or polycotton rayon) allow the shirt to breath and move with ease. Blends are beating 100-percent cotton for better fit and style.

It’s Customizable

Promo tees, even when tied to a brand or mammoth tech company, are a way for people to individualize themselves. Companies can now go wild with design and ideas. And with the rise of water-based and discharge printing, printing companies can now print on a fabric other than 100-percent cotton. Which is important because people want shirts with a soft-hand print to them. In other words, they want a nice vintage feel. And promo tees are more customizable now than ever before.

Above all, promo t-shirts allows you to show your identity without saying a word. Politics, sports, orientation, interests — it can say it all. A great way of bonding with others in a community without knowing anyone at all.

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