Do the makers of heavyweight cotton t-shirts have any idea that cotton is no longer a substitute for melton wool? Cotton can now be both soft and breathable. It can even make us look good by showing off our guns, pecs and lats. It doesn’t have to choke our throats, give us contact dermatitis on our shoulders and expose a large portion of our midriff. Following in that wave of thought, for this month’s edition of The Many Faces of Manny, I’m going to tackle a product description that really gets me livid: “Printed on 100% Heavyweight Cotton T-Shirts.”
You’ve seen that sentence used to encourage purchases of both licensed and unlicensed band merchandise in prices ranging from seven dollars (with free shipping) to twenty-five pounds (with pricy international shipping). From this I can surmise that the bands, or whoever is marketing the band’s merch, actually thinks that heavyweight cotton is a bonus to the purchaser—that it’s what the kids are looking for. They believe that if a potential buyer went to their webstore and didn’t see the words “Gildan 100% Heavyweight Cotton” they would not complete their purchase, opting to purchase a burlap sack to wear over their general torso area instead.
This is not to say I have totally shunned heavyweight cotton t-shirts. Hell, I’m wearing one in my Twitter profile picture. But two things I’m not looking for in a t-shirt are: 1.) protection from the cold; and 2.) the ability to pass the shirt down to my great-great-grandchildren. As a person that owns way too many pieces of clothing and is a shopaholic of sorts, my t-shirt collection is littered with these useless rags. Like a drawer full of back patches that came with sleeves.
When a heavyweight cotton t-shirt arrives in the mail the first thing I do is check the order form to see if I accidentally ordered a baseball tee, since the sleeves are usually so long that they eclipse my excessively dry elbows. The second thing I do is cut those sleeves right off. I mean, why did they even put sleeves on this “shirt” if the sleeves were going to be as wide as a pair of JNCO’s and as long as some Italian guy’s linen capri pants? (Pro-tip for sleeve cutters: you have to cut on the sleeve-side of the seam or else the shirt will fall apart. Don’t cut too far from that seam though, or the sleeves will roll up causing you to look like some sad, homeless crust-punk version of The Fonz.)
I polled my circle of friends (which caps out at two people) and I received some great feedback. I was reminded that the printed area of a heavyweight cotton t-shirt feels as rigid as a mobsters tomb. In fact, that area is so rigid I have heard that southerners actually use these t-shirts as a substitute for a washboard in their jug bands. I was also reminded of the insane width of the waist area of these shirts—and it’s not only wide; it’s usually slightly too short. Dear bands with heavyweight merch: not everyone wants to look like Scott Weiland writhing like a spineless snake, flailing our hands above our head so our shirt pops up to reveal a heavily track-marked stomach.
Also, bands that print on heavyweight cotton do not make female sizes in their shirts. I can only imagine the effort that goes into a female purchasing a men’s small and spending hours cutting and mending to make the shirt something wearable. All to wear the logo of a band they enjoy and want to support. Maybe bands haven’t noticed that one of the quickest ways to make your band popular is have women wear your merchandise. That is a great way to get men, as well as other women, to take interest.
A final note: when I was in bands and we were dreaming of stardom and screening our merchandise, we tested out t-shirts. This was in the ’90s and early 00s. We settled on a 50/50, cotton/polyester blend. They fit well, didn’t shrink awkwardly in the wash and were actually breathable. Later, we started printing on American Apparel tri-blend (50% Polyester / 25% Rayon / 25% Cotton) t-shirts. Thus, I know from experience that, when purchasing wholesale, the price point isn’t really that much different. In fact, it’s often more expensive to buy the ill-fitting, lap blanket that is a 100% heavyweight cotton tee. So please, we beg you, make an effort people.
So while you people sweat your breasts off in your 100% heavyweight cotton t-shirt that fades after multiple washes in a manner akin to selvedge denim, I will be sitting here cool and content in my tri-blend, trim-fit Murder City Devils t-shirt (pictured above).