About a week ago, I received a package in the mail from Gap, stuffed with two of the brand's new t-shirts. The "Perfect T" collection, which launched July 1, includes tri-blend knits, micro modal tanks, and a soft, relaxed burnout fabric. Most styles are just $19.50.
Of course it's nice to receive a gift, but more than that, I was intrigued by the feel of the shirts. They felt, well, expensive.
Which leads me to my point. Thank you, The Row. Thank you, James Perse. But above all, thank you, Michael Stars--the original "I can't believe these t-shirts are that expensive" brand--for raising the quality bar in the t-shirt category.
Now, don't misunderstand my gratitude. I would never, ever spend more than $50 on a tee. (Yes, I know that's still kind of expensive, but if it's a silk blend I can excuse it.) But I am glad that these brands exist. Why? Because it pushes less pricey labels to create better product at a lower price. Do you remember what t-shirts used to feel like? They were thick, took years to soften, and often became a funny shape after a wash or two.
Why the change? Consider a brand like James Perse.
I'm not going to go crazy at James Perse every time I walk in, but I have spent money when there's been a good sale. My reasoning: Why would I spend a few dollars less at a specialty retailer if I can get higher quality on sale? Suddenly, the Gaps and J.Crews and even Old Navys of the world are not only competing with each other, they're competing with LNA, Kain, and Splendid as well.
So we must thank those ridiculous brands for offering up $500 t-shirts. We might not be buying them, but they've improved the quality of t-shirts we do buy. Here are a few of Fashionista's favorite tees for midsummer.
Pocket Burnout Tee, $15 Gap.com
Softspun Cotton Tee, $24.50 JCrew.com
Diesel Zip Detail Oversize Tee, $50.54 Asos.com
Washed Crew Neck Tee, $28 Topshop.com
El Salvador Lace Tee, $38 AmericanApparel.net
Starpoint Tee, $39.50 Madewell.com
Andrew Kuo Googly Tee, $50 OpeningCeremony.us