Every wardrobe needs a classic t-shirt. The building block to any outfit, and the perfect trans-seasonal piece that can be layered during the winter, and shown off in the summer months.
So when we launched Riley Studio, we knew this piece was a must-have in our collection. However, the journey to our perfect t-shirt hasn’t been as easy as we had hoped.
As a gender-neutral brand, designing any new style comes with its challenges. We launched with our ‘Human Kind’ slogan t-shirt as part of our very first collection, and after some initial feedback it transpired our first production was coming up too small on the body length for our taller male customers. We liked the fit of the t-shirt’s on our Sizes 0 - 3 so we looked at increasing this only on Sizes 4 - 5, which were the sizes our tall men typically shopped.
The sleeve length was also tricky, as we wanted to give it a classic cut but again as with the body length on our first batch, the sleeve length also came up too short, which needed work.
After our second production of t-shirts, there was still work to be done on the neck shaping, something we wanted to make sure was perfect as this can have a big impact on the look and fit of a t-shirt. We decreased the front neck drop and narrowed the opening for a neater fit around the neck. We also improved the final pressing of the neck and shoulder area which helped with the end result.
Our mission has always been to utilise recycled materials first and foremost, to minimise our impact on the planet. For cotton, this was a challenge, as it was difficult to find a fully recycled cotton yarn. We started working with a mill called Lurdes Sampio for our first production with their 70:30 organic:recycled cotton blend. After wash testing and wearer trials, we found that this fabric was not the quality we desired, shrinking above industry standard.
A key part of our ethos is to create garments that last a lifetime, so this did not sit well with us. As a result, we continued to search for a new yarn that would be better suited for our production. We came across Vilartex, a leader in circular looms production. We loved their yarns and developed one for our t-shirts that was a 75:25 organic:recycled cotton blend that we were really happy with.
Furthermore, we wanted to develop a heavier weight jersey to give the t-shirt a more luxe feel, and so went from 130gsm to 190gsm.
As with any young start up, you quickly learn which factories you want to develop long term relationships with. For our first production of t-shirts and further amends, it was clear we weren’t with the right factory. At one point the arms were sewn on backwards and sent to us, thinking we wouldn’t notice! After this incident, we moved our production to Esfani, a jersey specialist factory based in Portugal, where we developed our fourth, or even fifth, iteration of the t-shirt!
Finally launching our Recycled Cotton Classic T-Shirt last year, we had a fit and design that we were really happy with. We had the right factory, using the best fabric. We had finally created our perfect t-shirt.