Material Gains

Cotton, polyester, bamboo and more – which T-shirt fabric is the best fit?

Ringspun Cotton

Fiber: Ringspun cotton involves just what the name implies: The cotton is spun in order to twist and thin the strands, which are then arranged evenly, creating a strong rope of fibers that's finer and softer than regular cotton.
Features: Ringspun cotton provides a soft hand, which makes it a go-to fabrication for fashion-forward suppliers and discerning end-buyers. You'll find it most often in T-shirts, polos, sweatshirts, tank tops and fleeces.
Qualities: Silky, soft, lightweight.
The Beefy-T (5180) from Hanes Branded Printwear (asi/59528; circle 103 on Free Info Card), made from 100% 6.1 oz ringspun cottonl.


Fiber: Polyester is a man-made fiber that's petroleum-based. The most common type of polyester is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), which is often also used in plastic water bottles.
Features: Polyester is hydrophobic, so it doesn't absorb sweat. It's also moisture-wicking, shrink-proof and wrinkle-resistant and it maintains its shape. It's a staple of performance wear and increasingly featured in a diverse number of items.
Qualities: Smooth, durable, comfortable.
The Tidal Shirt (222413) from Holloway Sportswear (asi/61430; circle 104 on Free Info Card), made from 100% polyester.

Poly/Cotton Blend

Fiber: T-shirts made of a blend of polyester and cotton feature the soft hand of cotton and the benefits of performance properties. They're often hydrophobic, moisture-wicking, shrink-proof and wrinkle-resistant, and they maintain their shape.
Features: Polyester/cotton blends not only offer performance properties and a soft hand, but also tend to be affordable and comfortable to wear.
Qualities: Wicking, durable, soft.
The X-Temp unisex performance T-shirt (4200) from Hanes Branded Printwear (asi/59528; circle 103 on Free Info Card), made from 60% ringspun cotton and 40% polyester.

Poly/Spandex Blend

Fiber: Spandex is a man-made fiber originally developed in 1959 that can stretch to over 500% of its original size without breaking. It's often blended with polyester for compression sportswear, and it's also found in many different types of apparel, such as swimwear. Even a small percentage in T-shirts, blouses and jeans gives the garments a tighter, more form-fitting silhouette. Other names are Lycra and elastane.
Features: Spandex is abrasion-resistant, and holds up well again body oils and the washing and drying process.
Qualities: Stretchy, durable, lightweight.
The Gauntlet crewneck compression T-shirt (K604SS) from Tri-Mountain (asi/92125; circle 105 on Free Info Card), made from 88% polyester and 12% spandex.


Fiber: Tri-blend is a combination of cotton, polyester and rayon, a type of man-made fiber, which gives T-shirts a soft, worn-in feel.
Features: In one garment, wearers can enjoy a super-soft hand, durability and the fine draping that rayon brings to the table. This combination is especially popular for vintage T-shirts.
Qualities: Soft, comfortable, durable.
The unisex tri-blend short-sleeve track shirt (TR401) from American Apparel (asi/35297; circle 87 on Free Info Card), made from 50% polyester, 25% ringspun cotton and 25% rayon.


Fiber: Modal, a subset of rayon, is made of wood pulp cellulose from beech trees, which is then converted into fiber through a chemical process. The fibers are known colloquially as lyocell.
Features: Modal offers a soft hand and excellent draping qualities. It's also shrink-resistant, fade-resistant and breathable.
Qualities: Luxurious, soft, pleasant, flattering.
The Port Authority ladiess' Concept Stretch scoop tee (LM1006) from SanMar (asi/84863; circle 89 on Free Info Card), made from 58% cotton, 38% modal and 4% spandex.


Fiber: Bamboo is converted to rayon much the same as viscose rayon: the soft insides of the tree are extracted with a steaming process, crushed and then converted into a fabric with chemicals.
Features: Bamboo has an extremely soft, silky hand, often deemed softer than cotton or silk. It's also naturally moisture-wicking and antimicrobial.
Qualities: Silky, luxurious, butter-soft.
The Pamela sheer bamboo V-neck (111) from Brandwear (asi/41545; circle 106 on Free Info Card), made of 95% rayon bamboo and 5% spandex.


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