What does "XXL Athletics" stand for on the front of shirts?
March 26, 2007 1:07 PM   Subscribe

What does "XXL Athletics" represent on t-shirts?

I am doing some t-shirt design for my school and I was thinking of a varsity athletics style shirt - but I want to know what it means before throwing it on a shirt (see for a google image search results page with some examples)

I'm quite certain it's not the size - because the letters are the same on every shirt I see., no matter the size.
posted by davey_darling to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Actually, I think it is meant to "represent" the size, in the sense that huge NFL athletes have to wear XXL sized clothing to house their huge muscles. Which is not to say that it states the size of that particular shirt.
posted by OmieWise at 1:13 PM on March 26, 2007

I should say that that's speculation on my part, and there might be another meaning, but I've always taken it as meant to suggest the huge muscularity of the wearer, whatever the actual size of the shirt.
posted by OmieWise at 1:15 PM on March 26, 2007

Best answer: I'm not sure if this means I'm old or what, but in junior high/high school sports we used to get assigned hoodies in the school color with the school name and the size right on the front, exactly like that (but running from S/M/L/XL, not just XXL). Yes, that's a recipe for junior high cruelty. At the end of the season you gave them back to the school. So yes, it was originally meant to indicate size, and being right on the front makes it easier to hand out. I don't know why it would be extra cool to be XXL, but as a girl, perhaps size acceptance has come a long way since i was 14.
posted by pekala at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2007

I think Omiewise basically has it- maybe it's not meant to suggest "the huge muscularity of the wearer," per se, but it's supposed to imply it's professional-quality apparel that a pro athlete would wear.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:24 PM on March 26, 2007

Best answer: The reason they're all "XXL" is that they have to be all something because the manufacturer is not going to have a different screen for each size if they don't need it.

As to why specifically XXL, my guess is that if you're off by one size, you might lose sales (people who fit a large won't want to wear an I WEAR SIZE XL shirt), but XXL is big/rare enough that it's clear it's not the wearer's size.
posted by mendel at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2007

Best answer: At least at my college, each t-shirt provided by the athletic department to a varsity athlete was printed with the athletic-department initials and the shirt's size on the front. I assume the size was included to make it easier to confirm that you had the proper size. As a way to discourage theft, the shirts were spray-dyed using an terrible stencil; wearing the shirt off-campus would make most people think "escaped convict" rather than Joe College.

Meanwhile, the bookstore sold vastly superior "varsity" shirts that were beautifully screen-printed and, if they were XL or smaller (including baby sizes), had "XXL" on the front. The actual fat-alum sizes (hey, I'm wearing one now!) had no size on the front, since "XXL" might be brutal honesty or wishful thinking for the wearer.
posted by backupjesus at 1:36 PM on March 26, 2007

I'm a graphic designer and have been focusing on t-shirt designs for the past few years. I have several done in the athletic style and mine say "XL". As already mentioned, it is meant to represent shirt size.

The original template for athletic shirts reserved a space (the oval in my designs) for shirt size so they could be passed out quickly and easily. When designers started parodying the style they chose the most popular t-shirt size, which is "XL".

Others may have chosen "XXL" because their market is larger and/or are they focusing on a male ego boost in terms of muscle or a female one in terms of breast size.

For myself, I have made designs for athletic and non athletic people but chose to stick with "XL" for all of my designs except a few I altered as jokes... my Gnome shirts say "XS".
posted by Fricka at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2007

Maybe it's a sort of pun? If you want a shirt that's size "XXL" the way you'd usually sask for it is "Two-Ex-Ell", not "Ex Ex Ell"... and "Two Ex Ell" sounds like "To Excel". Maybe?
posted by Rubber Soul at 2:35 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

My guess is that XL and XXL are chosen because (a) it's useful to choose one size to print on the front of all shirts (reduces production costs, as someone said), and (b) XL and even more so XXL are unambiguously size references, and hence evoke memories of the real athletic department sweats, whereas an M or an S might stand for something else.

They are also common sizes in institutional gear (better to err on the size of roominess than vice-versa). It's my guess that it has nothing to do with the supposed ego boost/signaling that others are suggesting, but that is simply a guess on my part.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:36 PM on March 26, 2007

I'm still looking for shirts in extra-medium...
posted by tim_in_oz at 8:11 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

« Older Portrait of the Macbook as a river of text   |   Help me choose cast-iron cookware. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.