The Discerning Shopper's Guide: 5 Ways to Identify Quality in T-Shirts and Hoodies

We all have those days, when nothing can comfort us quite like our favourite t-shirt or hoodie. 

It’s no surprise we all love wrapping ourselves in comfortable tees and warm hoodies - with minimum effort we can go from looking like we rolled out of bed, to looking stylish or making a statement. 

Graphic t-shirts and hoodies have become forms of self-expression and sometimes they get us more compliments than a dress or suit we’ve just blown half our paycheque on.

This welcome shift towards casualwear being adopted en masse started way back in the 90s, and has remained a staple throughout the various fashion trends over the decades since then!

Woman wearing Grit & Grace V-neck T-Shirt at the Beach

These days, it’s not odd to see big-wig executives running meetings in their favourite hoodie, or celebrities getting snapped around town by the paparazzi in graphic t-shirts. Everyone loves great-looking casual and activewear!

After spending your hard-earned cash, nothing’s worse than if our ride- or-die piece fades or loses its shape too quickly. 

Needless to say, having a rotation of reliable tshirts and hoodies in your wardrobe will make getting dressed easier than ever and help you establish your “style” for as long as you need them to.

This is where the quality comes in. In this article, we’re going to share how you can decipher a good tee/hoodie from a subpar item, so you get the most value (and life) out of your investment.

1. Quality of the material.

Beware fast-fashion. Not only is it a detriment to the environment, a lot of these pieces are made using low-quality fabric that won’t hold up very long in your wardrobe.  

Low-quality fabric also presents issues with holding a graphic design - another factor to be cognizant of when selecting your apparel.

Conversely, high-quality fabric is usually made from natural fibers (think 100% cotton) that springs back when stretched, and can maintain its shape with regular wear and washing. 

True quality is tied with how soft and dense a piece feels. Focus on something that feels firm, yet soft over something heavy or thick. 

See: An example of a high quality t-shirt  

How to test it: Hold it up to the light - you don’t want it to be see through because this indicates a lower density. Next, scrunch it up and see whether it gets wrinkly, or not. You want it to wrinkle slightly, but not so much that it loses the integrity of its shape as this indicates a low quality blend of fibers (regardless of whether it’s 100% cotton).


2. Inspect the hems and stitching.

Yes, this matters too! Look for stitching that’s neat and consistent, with no visible gaps. You want your clothes to hold up after all and the stitching is a huge part of that. Stitching is a tell-tale sign of whether the garment has been made with care, or not. Look for items with reinforced stitching (or taping) in areas where they wear out the most.

See: An example of a quality hoodie with reinforced hems and edges.

How to test: Take note of how the hems look after the first wash. If they become frayed, you know you’ve got a poorly made item on your hands. Check your items to ensure all raw edges are fully covered and ideally go for seams that are overlocked especially on the sleeves, collar and bottom hems.


3. Print Quality of Graphics.

Ever have that one t-shirt (or hoodie) with a graphic print that looked painted on - with cracks and everything? That’s an indicator that the technology and technique used to print it wasn’t the best for durability. That old fave of yours probably didn’t last long, did it?

Here’s what to check with respect to printed designs: thickness, softness, and stretch.
You want prints that are sturdy - yet, soft. Too thick and you can expect cracking in your near future, too soft...well, don’t expect the print to hold up much longer.
In terms of performance, the print ink should move with the fabric - when you stretch it, you shouldn’t see cracks when you do this test. If you do, you might need to be extra delicate with your item because it’s going to fade soon.

See: The kind of print that suits this test best

How to test it: You'll want to check how the print feels. A simple way to do this is just touch it - does it feel rough? If so, don’t expect it’s gonna stay stuck for very much longer.

Don’t forget, prints last longer on pure cotton blends, so also consider the base material when assessing quality!


4. Check the label.

Does it have enough detail? Does it have a comprehensive list showing the content of the material, where it was sourced and how to care for it?
Well-made apparel will always have these details baked in so that you know exactly how to care for your new garment.

If you're shopping online, check the product description for this information. If it's not being shared, you may want to inquire within.

5. Is it backed with a guarantee?

Another way to look at this is: does the brand stand by the quality of what they’re selling? This is an especially helpful consideration when shopping online as you can't actually see, feel or test what you're buying yet.
When brands are confident about the quality they sell, they usually back it up with a guarantee. If you’re unsure what their policy is on returns or exchanges, contact the brand to find out!
(In case you're curious, you can read our money-back guarantee here!)

So there you have it, the discerning shopper's guide to identifying quality of t-shirts and hoodies online!

As always, feel free to reach out to us directly if you'd like to learn more.

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