First, and without turning too philosophical on a summer Friday, the concept of perfection is subjective. "Some consumers like their T-shirts fitted," points out the WSJ. "Others like them slouchy and relaxed. Some want the fabric to be thicker, others sheerer. Some want the sleeves high, others low. Some want the shirt to be short enough that it looks neat when untucked. Others prefer something drapey. There is the customer who wants crisp T-shirts that can go to work under a blazer and the one who wants something that looks well-worn and lived-in." Some want the T-shirt to take them in its arms and tell them it'll be okay. That, and the increasing cost of cotton – which results in tees priced from $10 to $260 (The Row, duh) — nearly ensures shoppers' dissatisfaction.
However, none of this stops stores from branding their heroic attempts "favorite," "ideal," and/or "essential." Or, stating their cases. "While other companies use less expensive carded cotton, we only utilize fine-gauge, preshrunk combed cotton for all of our T-shirts," writes American Apparel on its website, the WSJ notes. Everlane explains its process using a graphic that reads, in part, "Before cutting we lay out our fabric for 24 hours... unrelaxed fabric has a tendency to pull in on itself." So, even the fabric is stressed out.
Still, the U.S. shells out more than $20 billion for T-shirts annually, reports the consumer market researchers at NPD Group — all in pursuit of a dubious dream. A Cotton Inc. poll showed that Americans have an average of 15 tees floating around and "consumers expect their T-shirts to last about four years," recounts the Journal. Fifteen T-shirts to take us through four years? Nary a fashion editor/hoarder was surveyed, evidently. (The Wall Street Journal)