The Russian Navy Shirt (Telnyashka)

The Russian navy shirt is just as historical as it is fashionable. The trend dates back to the 19th century where it was worn by the Tsarist Navy and the troops that followed. The Russian sailor shirt, as it is often called is thought to originate from Russia. However, history tells us something very different. In fact, the shirt was actually traded at European ports and was initially worn as an undershirt. People used it to sleep in, to jog in to hike or just as an everyday wear. So, what is the story behind the navy stripes? Let’s find out together.

The History of Russian Telnyashkas

It all started with the Breton Shirt which as we know is a striped shirt which was worn by fishermen and merchants of Brittany. They basically wore the shirts to set them apart from the other sea folk. The fashion was popularized and ultimately the French navy and a number of other ones from the pre-dreadnought era chose to wear this symbolic shirt. Some sailors of the French navy still choose to wear the shirt to portray their individuality.

The Russian navy then adopted the trend in the 19th century. The basic navy uniforms of the Russian ground troops started with Soviet sailors who wore the symbolic shirt during World War 2. Some people say that the trend was transferred to ground troops by sailors who refused to give up their original uniforms. For example, the Soviet sniper, Vassili Zaitsev who was an officer in the Soviet pacific fleet, refused to change his navy Telnyashka when he volunteered for army duty. Many other officers also followed pursuit, colouring the army blue.

The Russian Navy Shirt Culture

The remarkable shirt has also appeared in different films including ‘We Come from Kronshtadt’ the popular 19th-century Soviet propaganda film. The film portrays a gallant Bolshevik sailor emerging from the sea in a torn nay Telnyashka after surviving an executional drowning. Many popular cartoons like the ‘The Wolf in the Nu’ and ‘pagodi in The Troe iz Prostokvashino’ portray the navy Telnyashka with honor.

The Design of the Shirt

The shirt is a comfortable square cut, with a finely hemmed round neck and subtle long sleeves. The shirt is striped with different colours meaning something different. For instance, the blue stripes mean the Navy, while the black ones mean Naval Infantry. The light blue stripes signify VDV troops and so on. Each colour has a story of its own.

Clearly, the Russian navy shirt has a rich history within its folds. Feel yourself become part of its amazing tradition as soon as you try on the shirt. It is made from 180gsm 100% organic cotton that is extremely soft and comfortable and we hope you’ll love it as much as we do! We currently stock the popular Blue striped version of the Telnyashka!