Cheap custom T-shirts are cheap for a reason.
The way big retailers keep prices down is by cutting corners. May it be by using cheap materials, paying low wages or skipping steps of the process. Sometimes brands use one, two or all three of these tactics. This results in garments that, while affordable, end up looking like they’ve been to hell and back after just one wash.
If you want quality then you’re most likely going to have to pay for it. Craftsmanship and high-end fabrics cost money. Some style experts suggest that clothes should be expensive enough that they sting a little.
That being said, just because a T-shirt is expensive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to last longer. Price is no guarantee of quality. Sometimes the most expensive product in a shop is the brand’s name. At the same time, there are companies out there that offer good-quality for a low price (they’re the minority but they’re out there).
On this post, we’ll go over simple tips anyone can use to make sure the next T-shirt they buy not only looks good but also lasts for a long time.
When it comes to good quality T-shirts, most people agree that the more cotton, the better. We usually recommend to our customers’ 100% cotton garment because prints simply look better on them. For the most part, natural fibres tend to age better than synthetic ones which can become a problem when blending textiles. T-shirts made out of polyblends may look ‘misshapen’ after a while because its components have different expiration dates.
It is also worth mentioning that just because an item says it’s 100% cotton, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good quality, either. Not all kinds of cottons are created equal. Even among the most precious ones like Egyptian, Pima and Sea Island, there are ‘low-end’ and ‘high-end’ versions.
The tighter the weave is, then the longer the garment will last. Unlike what most think, this doesn’t translate to a heavier T-shirt. It is the density of the fabric that changes; not its weight or thickness.
The quality of the cotton is usually determined by the length of the fibre. The longer it is then the better the quality is considered to be. Simply put, longer fibres make it easier to spin the material into a finer yarn. This is why it can be bonded together, making it durable and softer.
Softness is another characteristic that is often associated with good quality in the clothing industry but it can be easily cheated. T-shirts may feel soft to the touch but don’t be fooled, this is not high-quality cotton. These are quoted with a chemical (often starch) that makes the material soft to the touch but it’s not permanent. This is why lots of high-street T-shirts start feeling ‘rough’ just after a couple of washes.
Is natural always better?
There are both good and bad natural textiles and the same can be said for synthetic. Synthetic fabrics like polyester have a bad reputation but they’re not inherently bad. They have their place in the fashion industry.
Usually, brands will pick synthetics for mainly two reasons. They either want to keep costs down or they need a particular ability that only these materials can offer — elasticity, impermeability, breathability, etc. For example, sportswear is almost exclusively produced with man-made materials.
Because of its ability to absorb liquid, doing sports in a 100% cotton T-shirt would be a bad idea. In no time, the person wearing it would be soaked in sweat. Not a nice look for the picture at the finish line.
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For a good quality T-shirt, we need good textiles but how it is made is equally important. After all, it doesn’t matter how good the materials are, if a building is poorly constructed it will still fall. There are many different types of knits and stitches that will give a T-shirt its sturdiness and durability.
There are a couple of tests you can run while at the shop to make sure you’re making a good investment.
The easiest test is to simply touch. A good quality T-shirt will never feel like plastic or boxy. If the fabric feels soft but firm at the same time, then chances are that it is a good quality material. We already mentioned that ‘softness’ can be cheated which is why you must keep an eye on other details.
Check the Label
Most T-shirts don’t have a thread count on their labels, but they do indicate the material it is made of and if it has been mixed with something else.
Run the Wrinkling Test
Crumple a part of the garment in your hand and then release. If it maintains a lot of wrinkles then it is probably bad quality, if it doesn’t maintain any wrinkles at all then it is probably a synthetic material. Ideally, you’d be looking for something between the two.
Check the Transparency
Hold the garment against a light source and see how transparent it becomes. The more transparency, then the less density.
Count the Stitches
Stitches are the muscles of a garment; they’re what keeps everything together. Because manufacturers will always pay more attention to the outside of a T-shirt, the easiest way to tell if a stitch is done well or not is by turning it around. Is it even? Does it lie flat? Are there any loose threads? These are all signs of poor manufacturing.
Also, check out how many stitches it has. The higher the count then the better because it means that more time was spent putting the garment together.
Inspect the Hems
Like stitches, hems are indicative of how much care was put when making the garment. When it comes to T-shirts, you should be paying particular attention to the collar, the sleeves and the lower hem.
Double-Check the Patterns
If you’re buying a T-shirt with a pattern that is. A well-made garment will have the pattern matching at the seams.
If you’ve never paid attention to this kind of things, then a good place to start would be your wardrobe. Compare different garments you have and try to relate to the brands.