The dorm shirt was huge fad in the 1990s, but as with all fashion trends, it fell victim to entropy. Then in the mid-2000s, Henry Abadi, the clothing entrepreneur responsible for the shirts, got a surprise call from a business acquaintance at a clothing store in Newark, NJ. They said that street fashion had suddenly shifted toward unnaturally huge T-shirts, and in order to keep up with the demand, they requested a cool thousand of Abadi's 40-inch tees -- the industry name for the dorm shirt.
Sensing an opportunity, Abadi shipped the tall tees ... and put in an order for a whopping 60,000 more. This proved to be an excellent move, as his Galaxy-label white tall tees soon became the thing to own for hip hop stars and people with unnaturally long torsos alike.
Also great for keeping movie ushers from spotting that your pockets are full of snacks.
But why did the huge plain T-shirt become a thing in the first place? Simple economics. Nobody wanted them at first. You could buy 10-15 dope-ass tree trunk tees for the price of a normal T-shirt. Then those poor and/or sensible shoppers went and pulled off the look so hard that they could no longer afford it themselves. It's the circle of fashion.