The origin of Marcel: more than a French first name, a tank top

A page of history on the popularity of this garment in France

Among the most common French first names, Marcel stands out for his unique destiny. The first name Marcel certainly marked an entire era in France, and its attribution to many births, but, when it is mentioned, it is indeed the image of a tank top that comes to mind today. This garment, symbol of France and French boys, does not by chance bear this outdated first name, which is the 10th first name most given at births since 1900 (including a peak in 1920 with 14,514 births, according to INSEE data). As for the Marcel tank top, an undershirt that has become iconic, it is much more than just a piece of clothing. He tells us a story, that of the popularity of a first name and a piece of clothing that has crossed the years, fashions and borders.

groupe de personnes en débardeur marcel

Marcel: A First Name, A Clothing, A History French

The first name Marcel and the Marcel tank top inevitably share a piece of history in France. The origin of the Marcel tank top dates back to the 1860s, when warehouse workers in Paris decided to cut the sleeves of their wool sweaters, in order to free their restrained bodies while protecting themselves from icy currents of air. This new garment then gave birth to the first version of the tank top. This sleeveless undershirt, initially utilitarian, quickly gained popularity among the French workers.

Débardeur côtelé Homme et Femme blanc en coton - Débardeur Marcel

Marcel Eisenberg and the Marcel Tank Top: birth of Popularity

In Roanne, the French capital of knitwear, a hosier named Marcel Eisenberg grasps the dimension, perhaps global, of this clothing revolution.The Marcel establishments begin to mass produce this tank top, which quickly takes the name "Marcel tank top". A French first name without history you said? This garment then became an essential, making its way gloriously from the packs of French soldiers to vacationers on the RN7, including blue-collar workers throughout France. Once an emblem of “proletarian” culture, this undershirt is on the verge of entering the mythology of French seduction.

Marcel: From Utility Tank Top to Symbol of Seduction

After the Second World War, the Marcel tank top experienced a renaissance. It became a weapon of mass seduction carried by muses like Marcel Cerdan, Marlon Brando or, later, Bruce Willis. The Marcel family grew over time and the undershirt was adopted by both French boys and girls. Whether on tennis courts or in action films, the Marcel tank top stands out and becomes Marcel 1er, Marcel the French, Marcel the magnificent. As for whether the popularity of the tank top benefited births or boys with the first name Marcel… that’s another story.

marcel mannequin

The Marcel Tank Top: a garment for everyone

In the 1980s, Marcel, the French tank top, entered the dictionary and, soon, on the catwalks of Paris and elsewhere, cementing its place in French culture. The origin of this undershirt is a tribute to France, to its history, to its spirit. Whatever the origin of the first name Marcel, the popularity of the clothing associated with it crosses time, fashions, and continues to symbolize self-confidence, relaxed elegance, and French know-how. And if by chance you are looking for a first name for a boy to be born in France, why not choose Marcel, who is making a comeback in the family of famous French first names. Let us remember Marcel Pagnol, Marcel Proust, Marcel BĂ©liveau, Marcel Marceau, Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Dadi, etc. all of whom, with or without a tank top, and each in their own way, have had a destiny in the limelight. Just like Marcel Eisenberg, crowned king among longshoremen in France.

logo marcel

Frequently Asked Questions: Everything you need to know about the tank top or the first name Marcel

            What is the etymology of the first name Marcel? Marcel is a French male first name, of Latin origin, derived from the first name Marcellus and meaning "devoted to the god Mars".

            How popular is the first name Marcel? The record year for the attribution of this first name was 1920, with 14,514 births.

Who is the inventor of the Marcel tank top? Marcel Eisenberg, a hosier from Roanne, is the creator of the mass-produced Marcel tank top.

Why is this tank top called Marcel? The tank top takes its name from its creator, Marcel Eisenberg.

What is the difference between a tank top and a Marcel? The Marcel is a specific type of French tank top, generally more fitted and made of mesh.

Who invented the tank top? The concept of the tank top was born among the handlers of the Paris market in the 19th century.