There are many different materials that a shirt can be made from. The decision to wear a shirt made out of a certain material will depend on a number of different factors. The type of activity someone is planning will have a big influence on the type of shirt they will wear. Woolen shirts are very popular for outdoor activities. The nature of the material is that it doesn’t let heat escape so any activity taking place in the cold will welcome any woolen clothing.
One of the oldest producers of woolen shirts is Pendleton who have been producing shirts from their factory in Oregon since 1924. Prior to this period woolen shirts were only produced in grey but the company transferred the skills that had learnt from making colourful Indian trade blankets, in to making their shirts. Ideal for fishing and hunting trips, they also became popular with California’s surfing community with the Beach Boys wearing Pendleton shirts on their album covers throughout the 1960’s.
As wool is suited to cold conditions, other materials are suited to hot conditions. Nylon is ideal to be used in sweaty conditions. It is a smooth material, it dries quickly, and it is breathable. It is also able to wick sweat from the skin to the outside of the garment where it evaporates away. Many types of shirt made for the gym are now made of nylon. Another favourite material for gym based vests is polypropylene which is made from plastic. It is totally waters resistant. A runner’s shirt maybe wet on the outside but the layer in contact with the skin is totally dry.
There is so much research that now goes on into the materials that shirts are made of especially in the sports based industries. In 2015 the New Zealand All Blacks wanted to make sure that their rugby players would be wearing the best shirts they possibly could. Their shirt manufacturer Adidas spent two years and a quarter of a million Euros in producing a shirt for the players made out of a material that is used in high tech sails. The two-way woven carbon fibre infused shirt stretched in a way that would mimic the player’s movements.
The company used Dynamic Stretch Analysis to show that the garment would not rip. The players wanted comfortable and strong jerseys. The players also needed some grip on the shirts for scrums and line outs, so the jerseys contain grip panels plus reinforced seams to cope with the extra pressure. It was hardly surprising that armed with this new “super shirt” the All Blacks went on to win the 2015 World cup.
Not all shirts sold today go through such in depth scientific research. In fact, some of the most popular shirts being sold today are using the same material that they have for years. One of the most popular shirts in the Cotton Oxford. The shirt was first produced by Scottish weavers back in the 19th century. The fabric is slightly thicker than a normal dress shirt, but the texture feels good against the skin. The shirt looks equally good with a suit or with a pair of jeans. It is still as popular today as it has ever been with the major brands producing their own version of the shirt, and the shirt seems to last a lot longer than other styles of shirt.
The shirt industry uses a great deal of different materials to produce their own particular styles of shirt. In an age where new technology continues to push the boundaries, it would be of no surprise that new materials will soon be discovered to produce the next generation of shirts.