The humble t-shirt has evolved with time and made its way into almost everyone’s wardrobe. People from all strata of life own one regardless of their age, race, or gender.
T-shirts became a fashion trend only after the second world war. Before that, they were worn as an undergarment mainly by soldiers, construction workers, farmers, miners, and dockworkers. Soon, T-shirts turned into the go-to for men as casual clothing and leisurewear because they’re inexpensive and easy to clean.
In the 1950s, when actor Marlon Brando wore a t-shirt in his movie “A Streetcar Named Desire”, it became even more popular as an outerwear garment. With that, there was a revolution in the t-shirt industry. New t-shirt designs, fabrics, and styles were introduced to create the latest fashion trends.
T-shirts Are a Thing
T-shirts are versatile and can be easily paired with almost everything. The primary reason why a lot of people opt to wear them is that they are comfortable. But they are also a great way to express individuality and style. You would find people wearing one at home, while playing sports, clubbing, or even in the boardroom of new-age companies.
What makes t-shirts so fashionable is that you can either dress them up or down. Pair them with jeans and sneakers, and there you are all set for a fun and relaxed event. On the other hand, wear your tee with a blazer and khakis to make a fashion statement in a more formal setup.
There are a variety of t-shirts out there to cater to every individual’s taste. They differ from necklines like v-shape. to collars, to different types of sleeves like cap sleeves, and even to long sleeves. They also vary in fit, like slim or baggy, along with styles that have pockets, hoods, printed slogans, or graphics.
With so much room for creativity, t-shirt trends keep changing from time to time. In this article, let’s explore what’s trending in 2021.
Trends in Design for 2021
Gaming T-shirt Design
As per IDC, the global gaming industry has crossed $150 billion in revenue and is growing double digits during the COVID pandemic. It is a big trend amongst Gen Z and millennials and is expected to reach 2.7 billion players globally.
All big and small players are aiming to monetize this trend for the fashion industry. Puma has signed four deals in the last couple of months to create merch for orgs like Gen.G Esports and Cloud9. Both Louis Vuitton and Uniqlo have also collaborated with different esports developers to launch limited edition t-shirts featuring game characters.
There are multiple themes for gaming shirts that highlight quotes, clip-art, and gaming characters. There are tag lines that emphasize how gaming is an integral part of a day-to-day routine like “Eat, Sleep, Game, Repeat” or how gamers are living multiple lives like “DAD by day, Guardian by night” or even highlighting the gender of the gamer through quotes like “Gamer Girl” and “Sorry this girl is already taken by a gamer”.
In a nutshell, big brands vouching and stepping into this industry certainly solidifies the future of this trend. Retailing websites Amazon and eBay are also selling gaming t-shirts with a plethora of options to choose from.
It’s said that fashion repeats itself. This holds true for the Vintage graphic tees as they make a comeback in 2021. People adore them for the nostalgic vibes they bring from old famous movies, TV series, bands, vehicles, popular brands, and even cartoon characters.
It’s time to take out your old graphic tees and wear them in style. In case you don’t have anything in your treasure, you can easily find your favorite designs on e-commerce sites like Amazon, Macy’s, Target, or Nordstrom, with eBay being the most popular. You can also visit brands like H&M, Uniqlo, and Urban Outfitters who keep coming out with their fresh vintage t-shirt collection from time to time.
When styling, vintage graphic t-shirts would never disappoint you. They can be worn with jeans, shorts, or casual pants as well as under a shirt or a jacket or over a full sleeve t-shirt. They will always grab attention with their vibrant colors and design.
If you are looking to join the bandwagon and sport this trend, look out for designs like the 70s Happy Face, the Jaws movie poster, the ACDC band name, the Coca-cola logo or the iconic Marilyn Monroe face by Andy Warhol. If you are into cars and bikes, you can try the Daytona 500 tee by NASCAR, the one with Harley Davidson, or the BMX freestyle rider racing bike design.
There are various reasons that animal portraits are put on shirts. One is to highlight an individual’s association to an animal rescue organization. The design could be a picture of a dog with the message of “Adopt don’t Shop” or “Animal Rescue Team”.
Some shirts would have an outline of the animal to show your love for them. There are also service shops available where you can print your pet’s photo with their name. You can even print multiple animals together rather than just one to convey your adoration for the animal kingdom as a whole.
Unique t-shirts featuring animal celebrities who have millions of followers on Instagram are trending too. There’s Grumpy Cat who went viral in 2012 and has 2.5 million followers, Nala cat with 3.7 million followers, and Doug the Pug with 3.6 million followers. Freelance illustrators like Balazs Solti have also contributed to this trend through their collection of t-shirts with animal illustrations.
Artwork on Shirts
T-shirt enthusiasts are always on the lookout for something new and fresh. Artists around the world have taken up this opportunity to showcase their art through tees. This kind of shirt is currently gaining traction because of how distinct it is. People show their support for the original artwork by getting them as well.
Artists are converting their most-liked art pieces on Instagram into wearables. They are moving their art out of the digital world to reach the masses. Supreme, a famous streetwear brand, collaborated with the legacy of Keith Haring, an American artist, to launch some funky t-shirts. Uniqlo has also collaborated with Keith Haring and many more artists from around the world like graphic artist Peter Saville and contemporary artist Daniel Arsham.
Some platforms that independent artists use to sell their t-shirts are Fine Art America, Society6, Design by Humans, and ETSY, with Amazon and eBay being the most popular. There you might find designs by Olga Shvartsur. She is known for her unique t-shirts that show textured watercolor paintings and feature familiar figures from history, TV, film, and video games.
If you are looking to fill your closet with unique fashion, give this trend a go. You are sure to find thousands of uncommon designs in the style of your choice.
T-shirts with mountains have often been associated with adventure sports, traveling, or vacation. People also wear them to express their love for the landform. The most popular designs include mountain ranges drawn in bright colors or dark shades to denote dawn and dusk respectively. Some also like prints of the highest ranges in the world like the Himalayas and Everest.
Mountains are definitely a popular vacation spot for the peace it brings along with it. And while people are enjoying their time there, they like to wear t-shirts printed with the landform to connect more with its magnificent beauty. “Mountains are calling… I must go” whispers their soul… and their shirt! In effect, sports brands like North Face have launched collections dedicated to mountain prints.
The “Mountain States” in the US are also quite popular when it comes to t-shirts. Montana, Colorado, and Nevada are the most common US states that are mentioned on tees along with a picture of a mountain. These vintage t-shirt designs make an excellent patriotic clothing choice as well as a great gifting idea.
Old is new again. Retro fonts and bright colors from the ’60s and ’70s are back in fashion. They make the contemporary phrases look more fun and appealing. Colors like reds, yellows, and pinks go well with these fonts to create some eye-catching tees.
Typefaces like the Seventies used in vintage rock posters and Summer of 76, with triple line all-caps, are great to give a stylish touch to short t-shirt quotes. Old Brighton Typewriter font, Palm Canyon Drive, and Shrikhand are some of the other popular retro fonts used to design typography t-shirts. Hand-drawn fonts also give a retro feel and make the tees look even more distinctive.
These t-shirts are for everyone. They look lively and fun which is why they suit all age groups. Get creative by customizing your own retro typography shirts.
The popularity of floral t-shirts has come and gone several times. Bright loud flowers to small floral prints, the fashion world has seen it all. At present, delicate floral prints are flooding the market, bringing in a simple and fresh feel to this style. Brands like Zara, Gap, HUGO BOSS, Dolce & Gabbana, ASOS, and H&M all have delicate floral t-shirts for both men and women.
There are various ways to showcase flowers in t-shirts. The prints can consist of just simple floras in the center, on one side, or spread all over to portray an aesthetic or share a message. Another trend is to print flowers around words or phrases to give them more gusto, or make the flowers the main focus with text in small fonts.
Floral t-shirts come in almost all styles such as v-neck, polo, short and full sleeves. They go well with denim and neutral colors. While they suit everyone, you need to consider your body type when picking a full floral print. Choose prints with small or medium-size flowers that are scattered all over the tee if you don’t want to emphasize your torso.
Bold statement t-shirts have been popular for a while now to send across simple and clear messages. They are also great for breaking the ice and starting a conversation. These t-shirts are generally in a single tone with bold sentences written in a contrasting color so that it’s easy to read and it gets the desired attention. A white tee with a black typography design is the most used combination.
The trend started back in the 1980s by the British designer, Katharine Hamnett who used slogans to campaign for political and environmental causes. Some of her famous bold statement t-shirts are the “Choose Life” and “Clean Up OR Die” collections. Today, if you support a cause, you are sure to find a t-shirt for the same.
The statements could be straightforward or not. Over time, people have resorted to using sarcasm to deliver a strong message like “I am not responsible for what my face does when you talk” or “I’m in Shape, Round is a Shape”. They can even address political issues. Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirts and Designer Prabal Gurung’s “The Future is Female” and “Our minds, our bodies, our power” ones got a lot of attention.
Many celebrities also sport these kinds of t-shirts to show their support for a particular cause or to express themselves. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal was spotted wearing one that read “I was a gay cowboy before it was cool!” to stop all the speculations of him being gay after he played a role of a gay cowboy in a movie.
Having inspirational words on t-shirts has been a trend for a couple of decades now. This design is currently widely adopted across all age groups and genders to express a personal belief. The shirts read “BE YOU”, “Good things take time”, or even “Don’t Quit”.
People participating in social campaigns use t-shirts to communicate their ideology like “FUR is dead” or “Black Lives Matter”. These kinds of shirts aim to inspire change. Speaking of which, when it’s time to replace government officials, supporters sport their leaning in printed tees. “Kamala Harris FOR the people” actually worked, yup!
Black tees with white text are the most preferred combination for inspirational tees as they stand out. You can also see some words being emphasized using bold, italics, fonts, and orientation to catch attention. The use of graphics along with inspirational words is another common variation. For example, a picture of a foot with the quote “Journey of thousand miles begins with a step”.
In the last couple of years, t-shirts with personal quotes have become a trend and companies like Pinterest, Redbubble, and 99designs have dedicated sections for them. This clearly signifies that this is an evergreen trend that will continue to evolve with every generation.
Shirts with off-register prints are those with purposely misaligned text and colors. Producers probably discovered this by actually misprinting something with a faulty machine. To our delight, we now have tees with text or objects where the hues lay slightly off from the lines, creating a pleasant woozy effect.
While this style has roots in 60s pop art, it’s still trending. It aims to highlight the message and grab attention in a fun way. So, it is great for promotional campaigns or for creating awareness about social issues in an approachable manner.
Almost every t-shirt brand has leveraged this design to show off their creativity at some point or the other. Some of the popular sportswear companies like Adidas, Nike, and Puma still have this timeless layout in stores. A lot of stand-alone brands are experimenting with this style, too.
Frequently Asked Questions about Trending T-shirts
What shirts are trending right now?
Basic white tees have always been in trend and always would be a trend. At present, gaming t-shirts are a huge hit along with graphic ones. Some of the other styles that are gaining popularity are designs with nautical notes, statement shirts, and pastels.
What is the most popular color for T-shirts?
The most popular color for t-shirts is black as it goes well with both dark- and light-colored clothes. It is known to complement your figure as it hides your unflattering lines. Following black is white, then, grey and navy blue, respectively.
A Final Word From The Trending Man
The t-shirt has become a quintessential garment over the years and it’s here to stay. They have come a long way, from being an unnoticeable piece of clothing to a style statement. Everyone needs one and anyone who is fashion-conscious needs to know about the popular trends. But while adopting those modern looks, do keep in mind the styles that suit your personality and body type.
Another trend that has caught up recently is customized t-shirts. If you are planning on designing your own tees, keep in the mind the above-mentioned styles to stay on top of your fashion game. Have fun experimenting!