It's hot(ish) outside so you should have one eye on a good t-shirt. Sunspel's Nicolas Brooke tells us what to look out for.
1. Sunspel t-shirts are made from 2 fold Egyptian cotton, knitted tightly on circular knitting machines. A poorly made t-shirt is likely to be made from a 30s cotton or even a mixture of cotton and man made fibre. This can be knitted on poorly maintained machines and often with a loose knit to save on costs.
A good t-shirt does not shrink after washing, nor do they twist as much as other t-shirts, which often lose their colour and shape. The fabric on a good t-shirt looks finer and feels more refined, the neck bindings are symmetrical and not twisted, the stitch lengths are shorter and neater, the labels are neatly attached and there are no loose threads in the garment or around the label. A good t-shirt will feel far smoother and lighter than most other t-shirts.
A good t-shirt not only endures but gets better with age, the fabric actually begins to feel softer over time. It is designed to last and to be a staple product that can be worn again and again.
Finally the design is critical. Sunspel t-shirts are designed with a slim fit that allows the piece to move with the body – meaning that you hardly even notice you’re wearing the t-shirt. There is no loose excess fabric and no pulling around the armholes or shoulders. We've been able to apply our experience in pattern cutting jersey underwear, refined over 150 years, to create the perfect t-shirt.
2. The first thing I would look at would be the look and feel of the fabric. The smoother the cotton the better the quality. I would then look at the make up. Does the t-shirt look symmetrical. How is the label stitched in? If that's a bit messy then it probably tells you about the rest of the garment. You should then definitely try it on. A good fit is critical. This is subjective in terms of whether you like it loose or fitted but you don't want it feeling uncomfortable.
3. I think it is really difficult to find a perfect t-shirt nowadays. In the past 20 or so years the t-shirt business has become all about volume and that has led to everybody looking to cut costs and provide a standard product. This means that the quality of fabric and make up has gone down and the fits tend to attempt to be very all purpose. This means it's tricky to find something that is really great quality and that fits really well.
4. I hope that men look at t-shirts as an important part of their wardrobe and think about what sort they want and why. If they don't then I think that's a shame. Some men get t-shirts wrong because they wear the wrong size, some because they don't try them on before they buy them. Others will go for a cheap option because they think of t-shirts as a throw away item. I think it should be the opposite, men spend so much time in t-shirts they should spend a little more on a good quality one that will last. A good t-shirt can definitely last 10 - 20 years.