When we started Smart Alec Tees and set out to create our first few pieces of clothing, we were moving quickly. We became possessed by a creative demon that couldn’t possibly have stopped to consider the little things, the intricacies of the business and our brand.
So we hammered out our initial designs and then made some shirts. Simple, right?
Wrong! There are a few crucial details that we failed to take into account: will our products be manufactured to high enough standards; and will our brand be front-and-center? These aren’t small, trivial things either… if we’re going to put all this time and energy into a project, we want to know that we can be proud of it.
So I needed to ask the important questions…
Does Cotton Shrink?
Yes! Yes, of course it does… don’t be silly.
A better question is: how much does cotton shrink, and what can we do to limit this effect?
When our first products were hitting the shelf, so to speak, we were just choosing the cheapest of everything to keep my costs down. That’s dumb, we realize in retrospect. The products Sydney and I were testing, which looked great, quickly lost a full size after washing them a few times in warm water and tumble-drying on medium.
But Syd still loves her “Holy Poop” hoodie, which was way too big to begin with. And we are NOT quitters… so we made some notes and started over (damn it).
But… Cotton? Or Combed, Ring-Spun Cotton?
Huh? What’s the difference, really? And who cares?
I certainly didn’t in the beginning, and I don’t blame anyone for overlooking such a detail… But it’s a whole other level, people. And research has found that the type and quality of the cotton used is a much more obvious factor than the popular “pre-shrunk” moniker.
The Winner? Combed, Ring-Spun Cotton.
And it’s not even close!
We’ll insert one caveat here though: this conversation is about cotton. Other fabrics don’t suffer the same shrinkage issues, so blended clothing will always fare better. This is about 90-100% cotton products, like the ones here at Smart Alec Tees.
Having said that, combed ring-spun cotton is just a way better version of cotton… it’s like cotton on steroids, after lots of good plastic surgery. 😏
Ring-spun cotton is a bunch of very thin strands spun together to create a stronger, softer cotton. And then combed, ring-spun cotton is treated before the spinning process– and carefully combed after. The result is an even tougher, even softer, more luxurious fabric!
And more expensive.
That’s common sense though. The extra care and work that goes into the fabric with which the clothing is made comes at a price. Nothing exorbitant… we’re not looking to take advantage of our droves of future customers! We adjusted for a little less profit per item, and we think we’ve managed to keep prices at or below the category average.
The Smart Alec Tees Brand… Take 2!
That is the title of this article, after all. So let’s do this thing!
On your marks… get set…
FALSE START! What’s wrong with you?!