The Hunting of the Snark

Paul Collins tracks the history of the T-shirt, and of slogans on T-shirts (with particular emphasis on those Happy Bunny tees), and I liked this little nuggets:
I was astonished to discover this headline while paging through an old Chicago Tribune from June 10, 1897:

MOTTOES ON REVOLVING SHIRT FRONT. Flippant Youth May Now Display Prominently the Phrase,'There Are No Flies on Me.'

It seems that Victorian hipsters realized one hot summer day that the octagonal celluloid shirt-bosom, which you could revolve around to display different designs, made for a handy personal billboard. "No Flies on Me" was the casual kiss-off of the moment, the "whatever" of 1897 slang; and so with a few strokes of a pen on their shirtfronts, these Chicago smartasses created a defining fashion of modern life.
So snark on clothing has been around for more than a century. Now about that trend of faux-vintage T-shirts advertising random camps and obscure events...


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