The Tao of Tees
1. FITTED CUTS
Boxy cuts were all the rage in the early '90s, when wearing a T-shirt was more of a grunge-inspired protest against the excesses of '80s fashion sense. But T-shirts are anti-fashion no longer—they're in style, and consumers want fashionable options. "Fitted cuts have now become a fashion staple because the majority of consumers no longer want (or wear) a boxy, unflattering T-shirt," said Yvette Corona, wholesale coordinator for Los Angeles-based American Apparel. "Fitted T-shirts provide a more fashion-forward look so the consumers can feel good in what they're wearing."
Likewise, where buying a plus-size T-shirt once meant forfeiting your right to style, many T-shirt manufacturers now offer fitted options in all sizes. "Many brands are coming out with shirts sized from XS to 2XL to fit a wide range of individuals with a slightly fitted cut to flatter women, while offering a trendier look for men," explained Ashley Adams, marketing coordinator for S&S Activewear, Bolingbrook, Ill.
If look is number 1 on the list of important T-shirt features, feel is number 1a. Luckily, blended designs offer both. "Blends are very popular at the moment, which gives the shirt a heathered look," Adams mentioned. "It also gives the shirt a very soft hand and allows the shirt to get softer after each wash."
Corona noted that blends lend themselves to a stylish fit. "Blended T-shirts, featuring polyester and/or rayon, offer slimming drapes and help to accentuate in all the right places," she said.
Joy Shi, marketing associate for Tri-Mountain, Irwindale, Calif., explained that cotton/polyester blends have traditionally been the most popular for T-shirts, but moisture-wicking and anti-microbial fabrics are becoming more desirable. "Materials like spandex and nylon in the fabric blend are also popular, especially for activewear shirts," she noted.
Next: Neons and heathers, knowing your customers, and schools