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​ How to Tell if Your T shirt is Quality

Posted by Thabang Motsotsa on 30th Oct 2019

(Image by Victoria Grace)

Low quality t shirts are the fault of short sighted businesses more than they are the cause of quick fix customers that morph into cutting corners and dealing cheap. Quality assurance as a business is important and quality assurance as a consumer is also important so our job as Kgabo Merch is to make sure that this becomes a good working bridge in the T shirt business (consumers managing quality and businesses equally managing quality). So we got to look at where do we buy from, what is it that we buy, and how is it processed. But the proof is not in the pudding here but it’s all in the process through which a quality t shirt has to go through. Now, I won’t mention specific processes but I want to interpolate what is it that I am getting at exactly. With a quality t shirt, no phase in the production line is skipped; high end fabric is supplied; skilled labor is employed; and proper machinery is used. As you see this is all on the side of business. So if processes in business are shady then its product-quality is likely to be shady as well.

To gauge if the t shirt you’re looking to buy is quality, price is a good start but not an entirely assertive indicator so if it’s cheap it does not mean its low quality and if it is expensive it doesn’t necessarily mean its good quality. Again, remember the proof is in the fabric! The more cotton the better and for the most part the more organic the fibre and less synthetic the cotton the better the quality in the t shirt because some synthetic materials can cause skin irritation or certain allergic reactions. Keep in mind that not all cottons and fibres are created equal, like any other material, there’s going to be low-end and high-end variations to it. It does not matter if the label says 100% this or 100% that, it’s meaningless if the material is more synthetic than organic. Furthermore, as this is proverbial across the t shirt making business, “the tighter the weave is, the longer the t shirt will last. Unlike what most think, this doesn’t translate to a heavier T-shirt. It is the density of the fabric that counts; not its weight or thickness.”

(Image by Alex Anfrews)

Let’s not forget the old way of measuring the quality of a t shirt, that gentle sense of touch on the fabric speaks volumes. We do this because softness is another characteristic that is often associated with good quality in the clothing industry, although, it can be tricky, it is also wise to also understand most t shirts especially high streets ones are quoted with chemicals such as Starch which is the easiest way to make material feel softer and come across as good quality when it’s not that’s why you get that bleached look or rough feel after a few washes.

So ‘yes’ fabric is the go-to-guy if you’re looking to tell if a t shirt is good quality but construction is also important. What is construction? The thread-patterns that make up the look of the t shirt. One time, I was at this retail store and this other guy was just busy looking at the insides of the t shirts like really inspecting the detailing of stiches and knits checking if the steps in the thread weren’t skipped or missed. So look out for the quality of the construction.

We’ve gone through touching and checking the label for quality assurance but it is also important to temporary crease the t shirt for a few seconds to a minute and then release if it maintains the crease it means there’s too much low-end cotton variation and if there’s no crease at all then it has too much synthetics. The more transparent the t shirt and fluffy the touch, the less cotton-fibre density and grade. Pay attention to the collar, sleeves, and lower edges of the t shirts there should be a higher quotient of stitches demonstrating the care and accuracy that went into making the t shirt.

(Image by Tembela Bohle)

Now we know that the proof is not in the pudding, the price, but in the density of the fabric, is it organic or synthetic, the stitches and knits, the transparency of the t shirt when directly exposed to a light source, and the degree of crease-then-release outcome, leaving the matching of patterns in layers or at the seams to indicate if quality time and money was actually invested in producing good quality. Lastly, comparing different t-shirts from different stores and brands is another conducive method to knowing good quality.

We would love to know how you tell your t-shirt is quality, share your tips.