I need to purchase t-shirts - the kind with things on them
October 1, 2019 7:58 AM   Subscribe

For reasons, I need to have a couple of t-shirts with...designs. I'm really not a t-shirt person, but if I have to buy and wear them I don't want to hate them. I want nicely made ones that aren't itchy or totally cheap. Where do I get them? Details within.

Ideally, I'd like a couple of t-shirts with political slogans that align with my values at least sorta* and/or I'd like some with, you know, appealing abstract or arty images.

I would like them to be soft with higher quality cotton rather than coarse because I know from past experience that coarser t-shirts make me itch. Like, I've got a couple of shirts from my union and they're really coarse and scratchy and they shrink upward - so even though they say worthy things on the front, I hate wearing them.

I am happy to purchase shirts that support worthy causes. Price is...an object? In that I am not going to buy a $200 shirt even if it's ever so, but they don't need to be extremely cheap.

They should come in an average men's XL or if very slim-fit, a men's XXL.

I don't especially want super cheap ones with the meme of the day, that's the thing, so I don't just want to poke around on the various cheap t-shirt aggregator sites.

Where should I look?

*Left-left, queer in particular. Paris Commune or Emma Goldman, yes, Young Stalin** no. I am amused by academic ones.

**Everyone is all "oooh, young Stalin was so very good-looking" but to me he just looks like that one smug asshole in your seminar.
posted by Frowner to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I might start with checking out Topatoco. They sell a lot of t-shirts for various indie artists and webcomic creators.
posted by General Malaise at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, meant to add: their t-shirts are far better quality than you'll find on some crappy print-to-order meme of the day t-shirt aggregator.
posted by General Malaise at 8:03 AM on October 1, 2019

Have you checked out Northern Sun yet? They're in town, so you can walk over and feel the shirts for yourself before buying.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:03 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've found various ACLU shirts to be nice and soft.
posted by Glinn at 8:06 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Cotton Bureau has many designs that fit your description, and the shirts themselves are very nice.
posted by fifthpocket at 8:08 AM on October 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

There's amorphia apparel run by Mefi's own; they've got some nice graphic tees of various themes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:11 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

You have two questions because you are asking for both nicely made, and cool / political designs.

As far as places, but you can buy rad radical T-shirts from Just Seeds, at least sometimes. Northern Sun is great, and doesn't Ricardo Levins Morales sell stuff there? Look at his stuff, if that's your style. Go to sites for movements you like. Wooden Shoe in Philly has a nice clearinghouse of links to other anarchist bookstores, some with links to buy shirts.

My suggestion, as someone with a handful of beloved lefty Ts, is to be patient and only buy when you find something inspiring... when you are out and about, you'll find good stuff. Second piece of advice is to spend like $30-$40 on a T-shirt (which is insane, yes) but if gets you above that $10-20 price, and you'll end up getting less scratchy stuff.

posted by RajahKing at 8:14 AM on October 1, 2019

I haven't bought anything here so can't speak to the quality, but you might enjoy Philadelphia Print Works. If I wore shirts with things on them, I would get their "believe women....or else" shirt in a second.
posted by sepviva at 8:27 AM on October 1, 2019

https://www.akpress.org/wearables.html has a few good ones.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/StreetLeavesPDX is my first and main answer to such a question as you have
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 8:35 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you want to culture signal without being too overt, you can look for bands whose politics align with yours.

If you're willing to have designs that aren't political, go thrifting. They'll already have done their shrinking and it's cheap.
posted by Candleman at 8:41 AM on October 1, 2019

Threadless has been around a while and has decent quality shirts- I've always enjoyed the fact that the art is crowdsourced and the artists do get paidfor each shirt bought.

I've bought shirts from them for years, and have found they hold up pretty well.
posted by larthegreat at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

RayGun t-shirts might work for you. They have a lot of midwest jokes, but they also have political designs.
posted by PussKillian at 8:55 AM on October 1, 2019

If you want soft shirts, I think you may want tri-blend. For example, I have this shirt from Emily’s List which is super soft and comfortable. I basically don’t wear non tri-blend these days because it’s too scratchy.
posted by bananacabana at 9:26 AM on October 1, 2019

If you want tshirts to stay long, wash them in cool water, line dry, esp. the 1st couple times. The way they shrink also depends on how the fabric is made, but hot water seems to make them shrink in length. Quality all-cotton shirts soften with washing, so throw those union shirts in the washer several more times.

Redbubble has a variety of shirts, a friend has artwork there and the all-cotton women's shirts are soft. Print-on-demand is a different technique, not as high quality as screen printing, or as long-lasting, but you can get exactly what you want.
posted by theora55 at 9:32 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am similar to you in my t-shirt preferences, and my favorite is Darwin's finches. The design on mine is big like what the model is wearing, not small like the mock-up.

For political stuff, if anything here appeals, please let me know because I've been storing far too many of them for far too long and I'd send you (or anyone reading this) some for the cost of shipping. The org is a nonprofit that's thoroughly moved on from the t-shirt business but still does nice works. Remaining sizes and color combinations vary heavily but they're all organic cotton grown and produced in the US, hand-dyed, and screen-printed by a little local-to-us shop.
posted by teremala at 9:38 AM on October 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

we really enjoy BlackLava shirts (they skew more asian-american focused, but there are a couple of good "got privileged" shirts). I am also fond of SnorgTees (warning: runs small), but they run more towards science and pop culture.
posted by alathia at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2019

I bought a shirt on Teepublic last year, that turned out great. It's a tad thin, but it's very soft. BUT it's a huge site with a ton of designs, so it's a lot to sort through.

What I've determined though, is that it's important to scrutinize the quality of the t-shirt that they print on. On Teepublic, for example, I purchased what they called a "tri-blend extra soft." Look for the upgraded version of the shirts, or look for 'supima' for a softer cotton. There are SO many different ways to make a t-shirt. Some are horrible, and some are great. Usually, you will get what you pay for.

Do you have any open-air markets in your city? Sometimes those will have t-shirt vendors, and you'll be able to feel the quality before you buy.
posted by hydra77 at 9:58 AM on October 1, 2019

Is newness a requirement? I'm thinking for t-shirts with abstract and arty images, vintage ones are usually super-soft.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:06 PM on October 1, 2019

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