Although we’re now a fully fledged clothing company with a range of sporty items to suit every eventuality, when the business first began, we just had our characterful namesake and a vague idea about t.shirts. Pam was keen that Big Crocodile would only grace t.shirts that were super-top quality - so she sourced our soft and breathable tri-blend fabric tees and chose some fabulously flattering colours to create the Big Crocodile collection.
This initially underrated undergarment has steadily grown and grown in popularity, now reaching the status of ultimate iconic fashion item. More than 2 billion t.shirts are sold every year nationwide (though not quite all of these are Big Crocodile t.shirts unfortunately) and the average Brit owns 14 tees in all (how many are in your drawer?).
Invented (or rather evolved) in the US, t.shirts began as the cut-off top parts of men’s babygrow-esque cotton undies (steady, now). Soon the US Navy began issuing crew necked, short sleeved, men’s tops as standard wear under Naval uniform. Then farmers, miners, dockworkers and construction types adopted the t.shirt as everyday wear - perfect attire for working hard on a hot day. The name simply comes from the T shape (just in case you hadn’t realised) and by the 1920s this was added to the Webster Dictionary (just in case it ever crops up in a pub quiz).
Found in every kind of clothing store from sporty to couture, and worn in the gym, on the sofa, in bed, to the office or on a night out by every kind of person, the t.shirt is the most versatile piece of clothing ever, ever, ever…
The first branded t.shirt popped up in the wondrous ‘Wizard of Oz’. Worn by workers in the Emerald City who were tasked with re-stuffing the scarecrow, these t.shirts were also part of the films promotional activity and are now super-sought after.
In the Fifties, rebel screen stars Marlon Brando and James Dean put the sex-appeal in the plain white t. It was considered pretty racy in those days to be caught wearing what was essentially just your underwear, so plenty of housewives hearts throbbed when they caught sight of the hunks and their tight white t.shirts on the big screen in ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ and ‘Rebel without a cause’.
Walt Disney quickly jumped on this highly profitable bandwagon with colourful t.shirts emblazoned with Mickey, Donald and the gang and as printing techniques got better and better the slogan t.shirts of the 1960s meant the simple t.shirt could also make a strong statement on life, the universe and everything.
Band t.shirts, protest t.shirts, comments on culture and comedy statements - everyone’s chest told a story in the Seventies and tight fitting (and preferably brown) was the only way to go.
Then Emilio Estevez wore a Mickey Mouse t.shirt in eighties cult classic ‘The Outsiders’. Girls swooned.
The mid Eighties brought us oversized ‘Choose Life’ t.shirts, courtesy of that classic ‘Wake me up’ video and along with Frankie’s ‘Relax’ t.shirts, became icons of the age of AIDS awareness. The ultimate in eighties cool when worn with drainpipe jeans, neon leg warmers and a ton of blue eyeliner (and that was just the boys).
Nineties rave culture brought us smiley face t-shirts and some truly horrible tie-dye numbers. Combined with massively wide jeans, pasty suede shoes and curtain hair - let’s face it, no-one looked good.
In 2003, Hermes showcased a crocodile t.shirt with a record breaking $91,500 price tag. Made from an actual crocodile it hit the headlines for being thoroughly OTT and unnecessary. It wasn’t long before people began to realise that the only kind of crocodile t.shirt worth wearing was ‘Big Crocodile’… (ok we’ve made that bit up but it’s not far from the truth, is it? :-).
Once you consider the fact that they also feature our brilliant Big Crocodile character doing all of his favourite sports - and they’ve got a great value price tag - what’s not to love?
Since the start of Big Crocodile clothing, we’ve been adding more and more t.shirt designs to the collection. Whether you’re sport of choice is weightlifting, tennis, running, free climbing, triathlon - or one of a ton of other choices - we’ll have a Big Crocodile t.shirt to suit you. The newest addition to the clan is Kickboxing Croc so if you want to be one of the first to rock that particular croc, just drop us a line. Girls (or guys) may well swoon*.
And just in case you're ever asked, the world record for most t.shirts worn at once is 247.
(*Unfortunately Big Crocodile cannot guarantee this point.)
The excellent vintage t.shirt pictures in this article were all pinned to boards on Pinterest. Search out vintage t.shirts for these and more of the same.
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