The Heavyweight T-Shirt
Whenever we would canvas our customers about items they’d like to see us add to our product range, something that would come up constantly was a super heavyweight t-shirt. This coincided with new suppliers specialising in knit garments like t-shirts and sweatshirts and our desire to develop original garments of this type. Typically in the past, we would utilise a readymade or ‘blank’ garment, adding our branding and labels to create a unique item. Even with these blank t-shirts, we were pretty fussy around what we looked for and would go to drastic lengths to source these like importing blanks from overseas. Funnily enough, our printers weren’t big fans of this approach, favouring the slick, shiny surface characterized by a certain large New Zealand based wholesale–come brand’s well known t-shirts. We preferred the dryer, almost rough surface of the heavier t-shirts we would import from American brands along with the thick neckline that was typical of these sorts of tees.
Utilising these blank ready-made garments is a common way to start creating branded items, being that the barriers to entry are much lower, they are relatively cost effective as they are produced in bulk to be distributed around the world. To be fair there are lots of great t-shirts bases out there, and they have a time and place, having a more genuine feel for a sort of merchandise type product. We will most likely continue to use them for fast turnaround collaborations and such. However, developing our own knit garments was always the goal. Where we could really get specific around the fabric, fit and all of the details. This sort of heavyweight t-shirt is not really something you can find on the market in a blank, at least not at a price that is affordable for purchasing at wholesale and adding embellishments. So we would have to make our own, an exciting opportunity that coincided with the growth in Checks and confidence in ordering the sort of numbers required to create a cut-and-sew t-shirt. In fact as I type I am planning a restock for these Heavyweight T-shirts as the response has been so positive. This in itself is a pretty big step given the quantity we started with is about double what we would have ordered in a blank item with branding added.
This shows the value in creating an original garment and all the thought that has gone into it. But more about the t-shirt itself. When it comes to the fit of t-shirts, we often find that they are too long if you find the right sort of boxy dropped shoulder and body shape. We wanted a more cropped finish, coupled with the weight of this fabric at 280GSM, it has a significant drape that hangs with weight just below the waist. To put that weight into perspective, this sort of weight would be more common in a sweatshirt. In fact, when we asked the supplier to source fabrics for us in this weight they initially showed us brushed/loop back fabrics which would typically be utilised exclusively in sweatshirts. This cotton that we landed on has almost a rugby jersey-like feel however despite its weight it is significantly softer to the touch than you would expect. So it started with the fit and fabric, next all the other small details needed to be considered. The other significant one was the neck ribbing, as mentioned earlier we would typically look for a thicker, tighter fitting neckline in t-shirts. Specifically a three cm thick ribbing needed to be used, finished off with a top-stitch around the neck, this was sort of a nod to the substantial weight of the fabric and the way the collar would often be finished on a crewneck sweatshirt. The other detail that sets it off is the globe logo embroidery on the centre chest, we wanted this t-shirt to feel almost like a top, an outer piece that had enough depth and interest to stand on its own but equally be suitable to layering and the central embroidery sits nicely under a shirt or cardigan.
Finally, with the weight of the fabric, we wanted it to feel broken in almost like it had already been washed twenty times. So a softening enzyme wash was applied giving the tee a broken in feeling. This might sound like a lot of thought to put into a t-shirt, and maybe you wouldn’t notice all of these details at a glance or even when purchasing, but it all adds up in the final picture. Look out for cut-and-sew sweatshirts and original proprietary knit fabrics to come.
Now, to consider some other colours for the next run...