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Singlet In Australia

A Journey Of Singlet Undergarment To Sportswear To Trend

A singlet is a sleeveless shirt made of a soft, warm and washable piece of clothing initially worn by men as an undershirt. However, at that time, the shirts were also considered underclothing apparel serving the same purpose. 

By the mid 19th century, sportsmen, athletes, wrestlers, woodcutters, and rowers started wearing the singlet openly as a top layer. 

This open ownership of wearing a singlet intrigued the observers to see the athletic, muscular body of the sportsmen and understand the comfort it provides by freeing the shoulders and facilitating the body movement. 

Man Wearing Singlet
Man Wearing Singlet

Shortly after, the singlet was adopted by the varied working class of Australia. In world war one, the soldiers were issued two singlets as a part of their cloth kit. In the 1920 and 30’s the athletes of the labour class donned form-fitted singlets mostly to work outdoors.   

Singlet, by this time, became the symbol of working-class Australian men and was used as a part of the masculinity image.

Player Sara Blicavs during Australia’s final Against USA
Player Sara Blicavs during Australia’s final Against USA

Singlet In Music And Bands

In Australia’s pub rock music scene, the musicians drew their roots to the working class singlet-wearing population in the 1970s and ’80s. The promotional image of Rose tattoo image used on the singlet for their kick-off campaign. Then, a film was made in 1985 with the title of “Working Class Man”, where the famous actor Jimmy Barnes wore a singlet. In the music scene, the lead singer Mark Seymour gained fame from his high energy, crowded and hot performances wearing a singlet.      

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Popularity and Identity

After all the hype and ownership singlet tops get through the films, music and bands, it was embraced and recast by the gay clubs and dance parties in the 1990s. The singlet became a power point for hard and smooth sculpted bodies and made its way to create the Australian Muscular, rugged and strong man’s identity. 

But simultaneously, the associations were drawn towards macho, hard-drinking and abusive men. That led the singlet-wearing men to create the image of troublesome, animalistic natured beings defaming this piece of clothing as “the wifebeater”.

Man Working Out While Wearing Singlet
Man Working Out While Wearing Singlet

Read More: Why Is A Tank Top Called A Wife Beater?

Women In Singlet

Australian newspapers advertised the women wearing a singlet in the 1880s when women used camisoles and chemises as regular undergarments. However, it took longer to mainstream the singlet wearing women in the media. Later, singlet-wearing men and women were registered at the most popular music festivals like Sunbury in 1970. 

The singlet then became high fashion when, in 2005, the contemporary Fashion designer Akira Isogawa presented it with embroidered and ornamented vivid colours. 

Customised Bonds singlet by Akira Isogawa
Customised Bonds singlet by Akira Isogawa

Singlet In Fashion 2021

The singlet is a very popular top apparel and an alternative of the t-shirt for both genders in Australia. It is in great demand, especially in the summer and spring seasons, and is available in various colours and sizes. The garment industry affiliated with sportswear keeps singlets as the regularly featured item and experiments with design and printing ideas on it. The fashion industry also keeps singlet as a staple casual fashion piece of clothing in their trends.

Girls Wearing Singlet
Girls Wearing Singlet

Round Off

The singlets have a long way from where it starts its journey in Australia till where it stands now at the moment. In this article, we explore the singlets storyline alongside the timelines of what was happening in Australia. The routes this singlet takes from the undershirt to working-class men’s top, to the music scene, films and creating all types of good and bad identities on its way. 

Image Source: Shutter Stock

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