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The Shirt Project celebrates 25th anniversary

| Friday, August 29, 2014

The Shirt Project, founded by alumnus Brennan Harvath in the spring of 1990, is celebrating its 25th year with a new design, unique festivities and a Notre Dame Marching Band tribute.

The Shirt Project is a student-run organization that creates the t-shirt worn by the Notre Dame student section at home football games, as well as by a myriad of fans and alumni. President of The Shirt Project, senior John Wetzel, said almost every student wears The Shirt to all Notre Dame football games, uniting the entire student body in a single color. According to The Shirt’s webpage, “The Shirt can be seen as a common thread uniting not only the students, but all fans in one solid color. A sea of same-colored Shirts gives the opposing team a ‘twelfth man’ to fear.”

The Shirt, Lucy Du and Rachel Broghammer, Wei LinWei Lin | The Observer

Wetzel said the project, which started as a way to raise money for Notre Dame’s annual spring festival, AnTostal, now funds the Student Union Endowment, the Rector Fund and The Shirt Charity Fund.

Past Shirts have used different shades of green and blue a combined 23 times, while there have been only two gold shirts, Wetzel said.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary, The Shirt committee made several changes to this year’s design. This year’s Shirt featuring a new blend of fabric, 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester, giving it a heathered look of a “blue-grey October Sky,” according to The Shirt’s webpage. A picture of the band also made its Shirt debut, replacing traditional Shirt images of Notre Dame football legends.

For the last five years, over 150 thousand The Shirts have sold annually, including 156 thousand Shirts last year.  The highest total came in 2011 when 165 thousand were sold. Since The Shirt’s debut in 1990, more than 2.1 million total have been sold. Wetzel said it is the largest single selling piece of collegiate apparel in the nation.

This past year, The Shirt Project raised over $750,000 for its charities. Over the last 25 years, the shirt has raised $8.5 million for students at the University, Wetzel said.

“Our sales are doing great this year, but we always need all the support we can get from the community,” Wetzel said.

“The significance of the 25-year history of The Shirt is the story of a charity program that has grown and thrived because of the community here at the University of Notre Dame,” he said. “Other universities have tried to emulate our program, but none have had nearly close to the amount of success as we have had, and I believe it can be attributed to the community here at the University of Notre Dame.  Over the past 25 years, many students and advisers have worked tirelessly to ensure that success and growth year after year.”

Wetzel said the 25th-anniversary celebration will include several unique events this weekend, including a tribute from the Notre Dame band.

“[The Shirt committee has] invited back all previous presidents and advisers of The Shirt [back to] campus for special reception,” he said. “We will also be speaking at the Football Friday luncheon, where we will debut our new history celebratory video, and we will be honored at the pep rally, where all attending previous presidents will be wearing The Shirt from their year on stage. In addition, all 32oz. cups in the stadium will feature the design of The Shirt, and the Notre Dame Marching Band will be doing a special tribute before going into its scheduled halftime show.”

Beyond the success of The Shirt, Wetzel said working on the committee has been a highlight of his Notre Dame experience.

“Serving as a member of The Shirt [planning] committee is an extreme privilege,” Wetzel said. “I’m lucky to be surrounded by great group of hard-working students who spend tons of time creating a product that will fund all the wonderful things the rest of the University’s students are able to do. It’s extremely gratifying not only to see the product of your work worn by students all over campus but to see what those students are able to achieve in their clubs and organizations with the money that product raised.”

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About Wei Lin

Wei Lin currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. He served as the Photo Editor on the 2014-2015 Editorial Board. He is a senior Accountancy, Economics, and Chinese triple major living in Knott Hall. He hails from the borough of Queens in New York City.

Contact Wei