When a T-Shirt is More Than a T-Shirt: 2021 Moments to Remember

December 28, 2021

T-shirts are something so prevalent in our daily lives, they often fade into the background, simply becoming part of a moment. When we reflect on special memories from a year, it’s surprising to sometimes find a t-shirt was the moment—it sparked joy or hope or connection.

Amplifying Black Women’s Voices

Dallas improv comedian and storyteller Sydney Plant had to suspend her “Women of Candor” live shows, which highlighted stories of African American women, due to the pandemic. And she had to find a new way to channel her creativity into the world. “Women of Candor was born out of following the word joy,” Plant says. And when the pandemic shifted this, she discovered a new way to continue uplifting Black women’s voices through a new line of t-shirts. With designs that are empowering, beautiful and satirical, they are intended to be conversation starters that amplify Black women’s voices in a way that’s “not filtered for anyone else.”

A Book “Off Your Back”

After looking through roughly 5,000 shirts that pop culture afficionado David Bieber had in his warehouse, he and several of his colleagues created the book Off Our Backs, which consists of 150 annotated photos of t-shirts covering music, movies, politics and more from the ‘60s onward. “These now-historic and valued shirts were a badge of honor, a sort of visible secret hand shake,” Bieber says. “Looking back to long-gone decades, yes, the t-shirt, along with the so-called ‘blue jeans,’ broke down the 20th century’s dress code rigidity and clothing barriers and boundaries.” While flipping through the book it’s easy to see just how much cultural impact a single tee can have on pop culture.

The Rock Gives Props

During a promotional interview for Jungle Cruise a t-shirt sparked a sweet moment from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After noticing the shirt his interviewer was wearing featured the nickname of one of Johnson’s mentors, “The Hitman,” Johnson paused for a moment. He said, “One thing before we leave…the T-shirt he’s wearing is of a guy who didn’t have to be, but he was so good to me when I was a rookie professional wrestler.” He continued to explain that, during a time when WWF was a competitive environment when he started out with “a lot of sharks in the water,” but that “he was just a great guy, and I always give him props where I can.”

Limited-Edition USO Tee

Thousands of service members around the world voted for the 2021 collectible T-shirt design, selecting one created by graphic designer and American flag collector, Kit Hinrichs. Hinrichs’ work spans over 60 years and is displayed in such renowned places at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Library of Congress. He is a self-described “narrative designer” who aims to tell a story in his work. His goal in designing the 2021 limited edition tee was to create “something that would say hello to [the USO community], that they would feel comfortable in.”

From all of us at SanMar, thank you for making us part of 2021 and we can’t wait to see what “big t-shirt moments” happen next year!

Did you have a special moment this year you’d like to share? Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram!