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The Search For The Perfect Unisex Tee

Posted by Courtney Hartman on

We take garment choice super seriously here at Free To Be Kids! When we're planning a new style we get a little obsessive with the sample collection and comparison. Here's what we demand on your behalf:

  • Ethical production. All potential suppliers must either be certified sweatshop free by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production or based in the US with a proven track record. If they're not, we won't even consider working with them. 
  • Quality manufacturing. Garments must be well sewn and symmetrical with consistent shape, straight cuts and seams.
  • Fabulous fabric. Of course the fabric has to look good, feel soft, and drape beautifully, but that's only half the battle! It also needs to show ink well when it's screen printed. What's the point of designing all these empowering tees if the designs don't show up well on the fabric, right?
  • Comfortable and fashionable cutClothes should fit a range of healthy bodies, move well, and look great!

We've spent these winter months looking for the most perfect Spring and Summer tees that meet all of our criteria, and I'm excited to give you the first look at the tees you'll soon see in our spring collection.

Our first new style is a short-sleeve unisex tee, which will come in toddler through adult sizes in heather grey, teal, and a bright, sunshiney yellow.

This style comes from good old American Apparel. We really searched far and wide for other options but the cut of their fine jersey and 50/50 tees truly is, uh, a cut above the rest. Let's take a look at how this style compares to a standard kids tee.

The picture below shows a size 6T "unisex" tee from another leading manufacturer (the pink one) with a grey American Apparel tee, also 6T, laid over the top. See how the neck and length are the same, but the pink one in the back is really boxy and wide, with longer and wider sleeves? That leads to a really baggy look with sort of droopy shoulders and sleeves that hang open. Just not cute, you guys. When you put that pink one on your little one it's not only sloppy-looking, it's also a very traditionally "boyish" cut that doesn't really deserve to be called unisex. 

American Apparel vs Another Leading T-Shirt Brand

The American Apparel style we chose for spring this year has a slimmer silhouette that is flattering on all kids. The sleeve is shorter and fits closer to the arm, so no sad droopy shoulder, and it's built more like the shape of a human body than, well, a square with two littler squares for sleeves. It does run small, so we're going to be recommending people err on the larger side when selecting a size. But you'll love it. It's a great quality shirt.

The fabric content varies slightly between each of the colors we picked out. Yellow is 100% cotton. It's bright and sunny and beautiful, and that 100% cotton is going to hold other bright, vibrant colors of ink really well. The heather grey is 95% cotton and 5% polyester, which gives it the slight color variance you see in a heathered fabric, and the teal is 50/50 cotton/polyester, giving it a beautiful neon brightness and a slightly lighter weight feel. Prints won't be quite as bright and bold on the teal because it's not 100% cotton so we'll go with darker inks or a slightly faded look on that one.

We're so excited to start printing some old favorites and some new exciting designs on these tees for you guys! Stay tuned for our next blog post, which will introduce our toddler "girly" tee for spring (and also explain why we only have a girly tee for toddlers. Spoiler alert, it relates to criteria #4 above... specifically the part about healthy bodies.



Owner/Designer, Free To Be Kids






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