There’s an old adage “You get what you pay for.” Still, when it comes to ordering custom t-shirts online, it’s hard to know what expenses might be worth it--as opposed to just costing more!
Here’s what to look for when it comes to getting premium quality t-shirts.
Cheap t-shirts aren’t just scratchy and ill-fitting, they can defeat your whole reason for purchasing custom t-shirt design!
Generally, when you order a t-shirt, you want it to get worn. Maybe it’s work uniforms for your staff. Maybe they’ll be gifted to clients or resold. After all, t-shirts have mega marketing power. T-shirts build brand recognition. They attract both new customers and new talent! When done right, they are walking billboards.
But of course, your t-shirt marketing strategy only works if people actually wear your shirts. For that, you need great design and comfort/wearability.
Cheap t-shirts frequently have problems, such as:
Premium t-shirts address these issues with the fabric blend, fit and drape. So let’s take a quick look at what makes those important qualities worth the cost.
When t-shirt folks say “blend,” they mean the kinds of threads that make up the material. While some shirts are 100% cotton, better shirts are generally some sort of blend of materials. That’s because ring-spun cotton, rayon and poly blends improve the look, fit and wear of the shirt.
100% cotton often starts out stiff and boxy. They may get softer over time, but not always.
Modern, premium materials don’t require hundreds of washings to be comfortable. They are comfortable from first touch.
Some premium shirts look vintage from day 1! This is done by choosing certain faded and “brushed” colors, then combining them with an intentionally vintage-looking inking process. Brushed fabrics are literally brushed to a soft finish when the materials get made. Our in-house design experts can help you get a premium vintage look, if you want.
You will pay more for nicer threads. Organic cotton costs more. So do bamboo-based rayons or other specialty fabrics. Whether or not that is “worth it” to you has to do with the total package. Sometimes organic cotton is still a cheap, ill-fitting t-shirt. Sometimes premium t-shirts are available in organic or recycled materials, which you pay more for but have a more positive impact on the environment.
Okay, so what about the t-shirt’s fit and “cut”? What does that mean and what are you paying for when you get a premium cut t-shirt?
Cheap t-shirts often have a boxy shape. The front and back have essentially the same rectangular cut. They use traditional tubed seams.
Shirts with a “modern cut” or “modern fit” have a more tailored fit. For women’s cuts the shirt will have a more hourglass-enhancing fit. For men’s shirts the waist will also be more tapered, in a way which creates a more broad-shouldered look than a cheap t-shirt.
Shirts with a more tailored fit are also cut to have a better drape.
The “drape” of fabric is how it lays or hangs on you. Not to get too technical, but it involves the fabric itself but also how the shape is cut out of the fabric.
Ever seen a cheap t-shirt where the seams drift to the side after washing? The shirt might appear to be twisting? Or it shrinks more on one side than the other? Cheap t-shirts are cut from the fabric to maximize the number of shirts that can be cut from the fabric. Nicer t-shirts are cut in a specific direction (the “grain” of the material) to enhance fabric drape.
When it comes to premium t-shirts, you also usually get other better fabric options. The material colors are often more vibrant. The garment is dyed-through, instead of the pattern or color being printed on the outside. Fabric which is dyed-through will remain true-to color longer.
While the exact options may vary, these sorts of things are what you get when you go for premium t-shirts. They can make a big difference in the overall feel and look of quality of your t-shirt.
When you order custom t-shirts online, look for examples or request a sample. Great custom t-shirt design, printed on premium quality materials, will get worn for years!
At T-shirt Labs, we specialize in great design and quality materials.