Branded Apparel Part One: The Impact of Fabric

Virtually every company is looking for ways to get their name in front of consumers. One of the best ways to do this is with branded apparel. When employees wear branded apparel, it makes it easy for customers to identify someone to help them quickly. For promotional pieces, a quality apparel item with unique imaging can set you apart from a sea of other companies.  

A great place to begin is determining who the end-user is and what message you want to convey about your brand. Next comes the quantity needed and the budget for the project. This information helps determine the quality of apparel and the decorating technique used. 

When deciding on branded apparel, the following are some key factors to take into account: 

  1. High-end apparel feels better, looks better, and lasts longer. Choosing quality apparel ensures that the pieces you have invested time and money into will be worn more often and not just tossed to the side. 
  2.  Are you going for a professional or casual look for your business apparel? Button-down shirts and polos tend to be seen as more professional. T-shirts and some polos work better for more casual businesses or businesses where button-down shirts are impractical. Caps are beneficial for employees who are frequently outdoors.
  3.  Create a branded apparel closet for a variety of situations. Employees can be given apparel for office, business events, and casual events. Showcase your apparel in company videos and social media posts as well.
  4.  Is your company eco-conscious? Earth-friendly materials are becoming more mainstream. Cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen are all eco-friendly. Apparel made from recycled materials is also on the rise. Many apparel companies also give back to helping the planet, providing an additional way to show your love for our planet.

Fabric… there are many options, and we know it can be confusing. We’re here to help in your decision-making process. 


There are four basic types of cotton: Upland, Pima, Egyptian, and Organic. The type of cotton used and the manufacturing process play a significant role in garment quality.

Upland cotton has short fibers. Almost 90% of the world’s cotton production comes from Upland cotton and is extra soft, making it some of the nicest cotton to use. Pima fabric is typically ringspun and used for higher-end garments. Egyptian cotton is used more in sheets than apparel, even though it has many similarities to Pima cotton. Organic cotton is grown without chemicals or genetic engineering. The process is usually less efficient, causing organic materials to cost more.

When looking at apparel, the terms “ringspun” and “combed ringspun” often appear. Here is a little useful information regarding these common terms. 

  • Ringspun cotton uses longer fibers spun in the same direction, resulting in a smoother fabric that is softer. This process is less efficient, which tends to make ringspun cotton shirts cost a bit more.
  • Combed ringspun cotton is a level up in quality. The spun cotton fibers are combed to produce a cleaner and smoother fabric.

Fabric manufacturing terms or factors to consider when selecting apparel to decorate are singles, weight, and tubular.

Singles count refers to the number of times the fabric is twisted into shape. The higher the numbers or twists, the nicer the fabric. It also means the fabric is less likely to tear, fade, or look fuzzy. 

Weight refers to the ounces per square yard (in the US). Keep in mind that heavier weight does not mean higher quality. 

Tubular shirts are cut from fabric woven into a tube shape; they can be less flattering because they don’t have side seams to create a more tailored fit. Tubular shirts also tend to be less expensive.

Blended Fabrics

Heather colored fabrics are made from different fiber colors of yarn being woven together. Heather colored apparel is quite popular and comes in a variety of colors. CVC (Chief Value Cotton) is an indicator of higher quality in heather fabrics. 

Tri-blend shirts are made of cotton and polyester with a percentage of rayon. Tri-blend shirts are comfortable, durable, and drape well. When you want a soft and luxurious blend, these are the shirts to buy. You can also get a tri-blend slub; the fabric will have a tonal texture causing it to have an uneven surface and be slightly sheer.

Eco-friendly Fabrics

Earth-friendly products are becoming more popular, and the apparel industry provides more green clothing regularly. Organic clothing manufacturing must comply with organic agricultural standards. Types of organic fabrics include cotton, wool, hemp, and silk.

Hemp is a popular and sustainable organic fabric that grows well with little water and requires no pesticides. It also regrows easily. 

Bamboo fabric is considered eco-friendly but not always organic when solvents and bleaching are used in the manufacturing process.

Apparel is now being produced out of recycled items like plastic bottles. There is even a process that uses soy husks to make apparel. Soy is naturally UV resistant and moisture resistant. 

A new organic clothing trend is to make fabric by spinning wood pulp with organic cotton and other fibers.

The cost to manufacture organic clothing is much higher than traditional fabric manufacturing. However, if you are looking to celebrate eco-friendly choices, organic clothing is a good way to show your commitment to helping our Earth. 

Basic Decorated Apparel Tips

Typically a smoother shirt will produce a higher quality print. Large fill areas can cause soft, comfortable shirts to be less comfortable when using screen printing. (When designing artwork for apparel, keep in mind that using soft-hand printing will provide the most comfortable results for large fill areas.) For direct to garment printing, shirts with a higher percentage of cotton are best.

Embroidery is also an excellent decorating method for most apparel. It can create a high-end look to elevate your branding.

Ready to start work on your branded apparel order? Give Rimco a call at 407-290-0883 to get started.

Stay tuned… In future blogs, we will touch on decorating tips in more detail. There are several methods of decorating for apparel that are unique and help you create customized branded apparel.