Picture this: after wearing a brand-new tee (that you really like the look and feel of), you toss it in the wash only for it to come out looking like it’s aged about a couple of years. You can forget about wearing it ever again as it now looks faded, shabby and frayed – so you donate it. What a waste of money for you, right?
If this situation sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Cheap t-shirts are cheap for a reason. And it comes down to three main tactics: the big retailers have cut corners from the manufacturing process; they have used cheap materials that aren’t meant to last; or they’re exploiting overseas workers. However, the quality and price of an item are not always related. In fact, it’s completely possible to find well-made t-shirts at affordable prices.
How to assess a garment for quality?
We can blame fast fashion for the lowering of standards when it comes to our clothes. So, what if, instead of low prices and fleeting trends, we chose sustainable clothing that was timeless in design? After all, when it comes to t-shirts, all we really want is:
- A tee that lasts more than one season
- A t-shirt that we can move in without worrying about it ripping
- Fabric that doesn’t pill or fade after a few washes
- Tees that feel comfortable on our skin
But how can you be sure that the t-shirt you just bought will tick all the boxes? Here are 5 simple tests that you can try right now:
- It’s in the touch: The best way to judge a fabric is to touch it. Does it feel smooth and soft, with dense threads? A good indication that your tee will last the distance is if the individual threads are tightly spun together, even if it does feel lightweight.
- Hold it up to the light: Whilst you expect some fabrics to be see-through – such as mesh and some delicate silk – you don’t want your cotton tee to be opaque. If you can see the silhouette of your hand visibly through the fabric, then chances are it will show off your undergarments too.
- Look at the seams: Check the quality of stitching inside and outside your top – it should be tight, which means less chance of your tee falling apart. The last thing you want is to be out with friends, reach over for a glass, and hear a huge rip. Loose seams are an indication of poor manufacturing.
- Check the label: What is your tee made of? As a general rule, natural fibres such as cotton, silk and wool are more enduring than synthetic fibres.
Run the scrunch test: Grab a part of your t-shirt and crumple it in your hand. If you release it and it maintains a lot of wrinkles, it’s most likely bad quality. No wrinkles indicate a synthetic material. Try to aim for something between the two.
Did the t-shirts sitting in your wardrobe right now fail the test? It might be time to invest in better, higher quality products.
At By.Bel, our t-shirts are made from 100% Australian cotton and are ethically produced. We also ship our tees in biodegradable, compostable packaging. Join the movement today and buy black and white unisex tees from a local artist who uses the much-loved t-shirt as her modern day canvas.