0. "Cheap" - Carded Open-End Cotton...
A lot of low-cost tees are made using carded open-end fabric, which results in a scratchy and heavy tee. This kind of cotton is full of impurities, which causes the surface to not be optimal for printing. Graphics will end up not being as clear/crisp, and will fade faster over time. The more you wash this, the more you'll have fabric pilling, which is where loose strands or balls of fiber form on the surface. Futurenaut Tees does not offer any products for sale which are made from this type of material.
1. "Basic" - Ring-Spun Cotton...
Even though this is the first level of material quality available from Futurenaut Tees, this is nothing to scoff at. Cotton by itself is loved for being soft, absorbent, and hypoallergenic. This is 100% ring-spun cotton, which is smoother, softer, and stronger than regular cotton. With its high stitch density, soft style, and durability, it makes for a great staple tee.
2a. "Premium" - Airlume Combed Ring-Spun Cotton...
This is a step up from basic cotton. It is 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton. This means the raw cotton goes through a unique process where it’s literally combed through to remove impurities. This results in an ultra-soft fabric that has a super tight weave, smooth consistency, and lighter weight.
2b. "Premium" - Polyester...
Made from a category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in their main chain, this synthetic four-way stretch microfiber is known for being smooth, durable, wrinkle-resistant, and water-repellent. It is referred to as "cotton touch", which means it is soft like cotton, but it is not as breathable as cotton. It won’t fade after washing, and it dries extremely fast. Something of note though is that when it does get wet it tends to cling to the skin, and any white portions tend to become rather translucent.
3a. "Fancy" - Heather...
Heathers are the result of blending together a little bit of polyester into the premium cotton. The amount of polyester can vary depending on the color of heather, being anywhere from 10% to 48%. This creates a nice textured look and feel. The polyester addition causes the material to be slightly stronger than cotton alone, as well as a little less prone to wrinkles, but it is still just as soft, breathable, and comfortable as premium cotton.
3b. "Fancy" - Poly-Cotton...
This is similar to heathers, except that it is more polyester than cotton, while heathers are more cotton than polyester. It is still soft and comfortable like cotton, but the increased percentage of polyester allows it to dry faster, weigh less, last longer, and be less prone to wrinkles.
4a. "Stretchy" - Poly-Spandex...
Polyester and spandex blended together into a microfiber yarn; oh man it's like space fabric! Soft, comfortable, smooth, stretchy, shrink-proof, and wrinkle-proof. Allows for form-fitting garments that you still have complete freedom of movement in while wearing. It isn't as breathable as cotton blends, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Just don't ever try to iron it.
4b. "Flowy" - Poly-Rayon...
A mixture of polyester and viscose (a type of rayon) that strongly resembles silk. This combines the strength of polyester with the drape and sheen of rayon to create a super-fancy fabric. It looks luxurious and feels nice, but is a bit more delicate than other fabrics and should not be twisted/rung out when wet or exposed to high heat.
5. "Luxory" - Tri-blend...
What happens when you create a material by blending together premium cotton, polyester, and rayon? Basically you end up with the perfect material. The comfort of cotton, the durability of polyester, and the luxurious silkiness of rayon. It doesn't wrinkle easily, it dries fast, and it makes for the softest, most comfortable, and longest lasting tees you can get.
*NOTE: Prints on tri-blend material will not come out AS opaque as on other materials because of the nature of the blend and the tendency for the texture to show through the print slightly. Rest assured this does NOT mean the print will fade faster than the other materials - quite the opposite in fact. It just means it will start out with just a little bit of that "vintage" look to it.
Comparison photo (click to enlarge)...
Basic cotton tees are made by Gildan Corp. Below are their statements with regards to their manufacturing process.
"Water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and necessarily plays a large part in the entire life cycle of apparel. We are working hard to make our water use as efficient as possible and ensure wastewater is managed responsibly and sustainably."
Energy Efficiency & Climate Change
"Through a number of innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects we are focused on reducing our energy intensity while minimizing GHG emissions to help reduce negative impacts on climate change."
"By thinking about the total manufacturing process and value chain, we strive to minimize our waste streams while maximizing our reuse, recycling and repurposing within every process from domestic to industrial waste to find better options than disposal."
"Strong guidelines prevent harmful chemistry from entering our operations and products. We are driving safe chemical management across our operations to ensure the safety of everyone who works to produce our apparel and all customers who wear it."
Almost all other materials used in Futurenaut Tees products are manufactured by Bella+Canvas. Below are their environmental statements about how their materials are produced.
"By using newer, more efficient dye machines, we use 7x less water than the average for clothing manufacturers, saving 24 million gallons a week. Any water we do use goes through a filtration system that allows it to be recycled."
"We are a green company through and through - taking every opportunity we can to reduce our co2 emissions. If you take a quick tour around our headquarters you'll find we use solar energy to power our sewing and cutting facilities, motion-sensor LED lighting and skylights throughout each building, and electric car charging stations to encourage employees to go green."
Virtually Zero Waste
"Our manufacturing facilities and LA Headquarters produce almost no landfill because we recycle pretty much everything that can't be turned into a tee. We've optimized our cutting to reduce plastic use, and excess fabric is recycled into a number of things like baby bibs or stuffing for upholstery. Let nothing go to waste!"