Ever heard of a tri-blend shirt? Sure you have. You just have a slightly different name for it. You call it “My Favorite T-Shirt.” Did we just blow your mind that we know your most tried-and-true piece of apparel might be something you’ve never heard of? We’re not psychic. Here’s how we know you love—or will love—tri-blend. And if you don’t have that favorite tri-blend t-shirt or tank top just yet, here’s why you should consider giving some of our bestselling brands a good look.
What's in a Name?
Tri-blend is exactly what it sounds like, a fabric birthed from the blend of three different types of thread. To get specific, the industry standard is 50% polyester, 25% ring-spun cotton and 25% rayon. But why? There’s a perfect science to creating tri-blend. This ingenious material has the durability of polyester, the comfort of cotton, and the drape of rayon. What does all that mean? It means you now know the name of your favorite closet staple.
A Fashionable Entrance
When tri-blend burst onto the scene around a decade ago, it’s not that the fashion world needed another new and trendy buzzword. In fact, you made the fashion world go out looking for answers. You didn’t just want fashion and function anymore. You also wanted fun. You demanded clothing that made you look and feel great. That’s a tall order for any industry. So, let’s get blending. Polyester was a household name, and cotton was king, but who was going to buy an unheard fabric called tri-blend? Well, as it turned out, anyone with the want and need for the simplest, fashion-forward fabric. It may have been a gamble in the beginning, but tri-blend was—and is—no fashion fad.
The Best of the Best
We don’t want to just gloss over these three threads. They certainly weren’t chosen at random. So let’s talk about the insider info that got each one into the mix.
Cotton is classic. It was the industry standard for the most comfortable and breathable fabric we knew. If we haven’t been wearing it forever, we’ve at least been discussing its origins for about that long. Some of the earliest forms of the plant were discovered in caves in Mexico about 5,000 years ago. Around the same time, Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, described cotton as “a wool exceeding in beauty and goodness that of sheep.” And sadly, Herodotus didn’t even know about ringspun cotton, silkier than any sheep an ancient historian ever knew. While regular cotton is made from twisting plant fibers to make yarn, ringspun yarn is made by twisting and thinning cotton strands into a fine rope of cotton fibers. You’ll find most tri-blends proudly feature ringspun cotton, and for good reason. Now, the most breathable fabric has an even softer feel.Then along came polyester, which has come a long way since its “Brady Bunch” heyday. In fact, this synthetic material was created way before Mrs. Brady ever told Bobby not to play ball in the house. (Spoiler alert: Bobby did play ball in the house.) When it was first introduced to the American public in the early 1950s, it was called “magical” and “a miracle fabric.” Early marketers claimed it could be worn for 68 days in a row and still look good. Let’s hope there was a wash or two in that stretch of time. What we know today is that polyester is a true wash-and-wear material, no ironing or dry cleaning needed. The look is smooth, shiny and effortless. The material itself is amazingly resilient, while still managing to be deceptively lightweight. And with the right blend, polyester is a real workhorse in keeping any piece of apparel together.
Rayon, another man-made wonder, is a soft, breathable fabric with high-moisture absorbency. While cotton lets the skin breathe, rayon excels at absorbing sweat and wicking it away from the skin. It’s an ideal choice for summer, and most likely an element you’ll find in your athletic gear. Not only is the high absorbency good for keeping you dry, it helps keep any dyes in the fabric rich, deep and vibrant. Although it’s still considered a wash-and-wear fabric, rayon falls somewhere in between cotton and polyester for fighting off wrinkles.
What rayon really brings to the table is a term that doesn’t get much credit: draping. In the fashion world of design, draping is a term that means to actually drape fabric around a form and pin it into its desired shape. Think of when you put something on and it fits perfectly, as if it was designed just for you, not for a mannequin. Rayon is known for delivering the closest thing to a perfect fit. Drape matters from professional sports uniforms to workforce attire to high-end fashion pieces. So, if you felt like rayon was getting a bit of a snub for primarily being known for “drape,” now you know it’s one of the highest forms of flattery.
Put It Together
Tri-blend takes the best that cotton, polyester and rayon have to offer. Combining just the right amounts gives apparel amazing durability, strength, softness, breathability, wicking and drape. While the fashion industry is still playing with different percentages of the three materials, if it has cotton, polyester and rayon, it’s tri-blend.
Put It in Print
We hope there’s still room in your closet. While our tri-blend brands can be worn as a classic tee in a multitude of colors, screen printing takes them to a whole new level. Since tri-blend apparel is one of the most popular fabrics to have printed, a lot of science has gone into how to make that design or phrase really pop. Despite working with three different materials, synthetic and natural, screen printing isn’t impossible, but rather it has become an art. Skip scorching, because a classic process is making a comeback: hello, wet-on-wet. Because each layer literally goes on while the previous layer is still wet, without any bleeding, this gradual building up of color ends with a crisp and clean look. It’s instantly cool without any of the typical heating process. Tri-blend tees have an altogether unique look when printed. Some say this specific look has the highly coveted vintage or retro feel. Will your newly printed tee give you instant street cred? Start designing and find out. The tees and tanks we carry are up to the challenge.
What to Wear
We carry only the best brands, and our popular tri-blend carriers are no exception. Here’s a quick rundown on who’s offering our favorite products in tri-blend.
Bella + Canvas is one of the fastest growing companies in the industry. Customers fell in love with the soft feel, modern fit and superior construction of Bella + Canvas shirts, many of their garments are made right here in the USA on a solar-powered sewing and cutting floor. Whether you want a classic and casual tee like the Unisex Tri-Blend T-Shirt 3413C or a simple yet fashionable Women's Deep V-Neck T-Shirt 8435, Bella + Canvas won't disappoint.
Next Level t-shirts and tanks not only look great with their fresh fashion, but are also known for their extremely soft and comfortable feel. Next Level tri-blend shirts like the Men’s Next Level 6010 Tri-Blend T-Shirt are not only notably comfy, but also have great recovery and stretch. As for the very popular Next Level tanks, they are available in numerous colors and styles, such as the Women’s Next Level 6733 Tri-Blend Racerback Tank Top.
With two of our bestselling brands carrying a wide assortment for men, women and children in tri-blend, the rest of the industry is taking notice. Who’s next to join the assortment of offerings? We’ll keep you in the best threads as more brands join the tri-blend movement.
Try the Tri
Are you still wondering if your favorite tee is a tri-blend? Go ahead, check the tag, we’ll wait. Or better yet, see all the styles we have to offer. If your favorite tee isn’t a tri-blend, it just may have become your old favorite.