The white T-shirt

by Maria Goretti Balcells

The white shirt is understood as a blank canvas: an astral agent in which any story can be told, dream any dream. Today, the white shirt knows its own stylistic meaning, but this was not always the case. In fact, throughout the 1800s, the declaration of the white shirt was resigned to the sweaty confines and clothing of the undergarment. Interestingly, through these periods of history, the shirt remained a unisex undergarment.

In a contemporary context, we constantly observe the fashion’s desire to periodically retire to basic principles and more especially in times of crisis.

The white shirt was labeled by Elle in 2014 as “the basic element of the wardrobe“. The cult status of the white shirt serves as a reason to understand the machinations of his prestige. Is it a sign of the broader return of fashion to conservatism? Or is it an act of rebellion where fashion in recent memory is characterized by constant acceleration and conceptual avant-gardism?

The white shirt has gone from being a unisex undergarment at the beginning, to a basic garment of our wardrobe and with fast fashion it is constantly renewed. This concept encompasses not only serial production, and the low cost of garments (inspired by the latest trends), but also the behavior of consumers of this type of fashion pret-a-porter, democratic but also disposable, temporary, accessible, trendy, that only lasts a season and then passes into oblivion in the cloakrooms.


But fast fashion n13ot only has a huge environmental impact, but also ethical and social. Let’s see five data that already impress in itself:

  1. 3 billion dollars is what the textile sector charges per year. There are 250,000 factories and 40 million employees, mostly in Asia.

  2. 20 percent of the toxins that are discharged into the water come from the textile industry and only for the dyes, 2 billion tons of chemical products are needed.

  3. 1400 t-shirts per minute are thrown in a city of 7 million people, such as Hong Kong, and three out of every four end up in a landfill or are incinerated.

  4. 7000 liters of water are needed to make some jeans and at the same time it is what a person drinks in ten years.

  5. 22 garments is the average of clothes that an English woman has in the closet and that she never puts on.

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